I found this tucked away in a bookshop not long ago, looking a bit crumpled and water-stained. I loved the cover for its striking black and red, the bold question mark and the barest cut-out houses. It’s not the sort of visually-clever trick that would get used for this kind of thing today, and even then, in 1955, it was more like design for a movie poster. But it’s a tiny work of art. It makes you stop, and think, and put the pieces together – ancient landscape, super-imposed houses, traditional fonts that conjure vintage auction posters. Course I’m reading too much into it, I just want to know why I like it.
Dartmoor folk have in the past built honest, comely houses, in keeping with the unique and characteristic quality, the rugged integrity, of the Moor itself… [we] see no reason why this tradition should not be preserved.
– from the introduction
In the back is a paint chart, great in the way it encourages buildings to be part of the landscape, to grow with it, not against it.
It gently asks planners and architects to absorb and feel the history of the landscape and interpret it afresh, so that buildings belong to the landscape.
Here’s an ancient heart still beating. This is a photo from inside, of Drewsteignton village, circa 1955…
…and here’s the same scene, more or less, today.