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Pioneering Power: Design and Coordination in the UKs First Nuclear Programme

Coucill, LS (2017) Pioneering Power: Design and Coordination in the UKs First Nuclear Programme. In: Creation/Reaction : ECLAS 2017, 10 September 2017 - 13 September 2017, Greenwich, London. (In Press)

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Abstract

Innovated in the UK, the Magnox programme was the world’s first full-scale commercial nuclear energy programme (UKAEA, 1978). Launched in the wake of WWII, the first operational plant, Calder Hall (1956), provided the prototype for further reactors in the programme. This unprecedented, industrial-scale programme was not only manifest in the UK, but reactors pioneered as part of this programme were also built at Tokai Mura, Japan and Latina, Italy (Cocroft, 2006). Responsible for the development of reactor types, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) played a key role in the coordination of this first, civil nuclear programme together with the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), responsible for the supply of electricity in Britain at the time. Under these bodies, the power stations designed were explicitly modern landmarks: a clear product of their time and role in burgeoning technological advancement. The output of several design and engineering consultants, post-war energy infrastructure was given significant attention by avant-garde landscape architects such as Sylvia Crowe in her book Landscapes of Power and prominent architectural figures were commissioned to design power stations. Issues of design coordination in such complex programmes have highlighted friction between the functionality of engineering and wider considerations of design integration (Wainwright, 1967). Focussing on Wylfa (Farmer and Dark Architects, commissioned 1969) the last station to be built under the first programme, this paper will explore and examine the coordination of design roles and delivery, reflecting on how changes were instigated as the second wave of gas-cooled reactors began to emerge.

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