Dr. Werner Nohl · landscape architect · honorary professor (Technical University of Munich)

Of power lines, trees, animals, and men - their aesthetical effects in the context of landscape

Werner Nohl

In Germany wind energy is, first of all, produced in the northern and eastern states (offshore and onshore). Since large parts of this energy is needed in western and southern states some 3.500 km of further power lines will have to be erected, in near future. As may be expected, such intentions encounter heavy resistance among local people, especially. They are concerned that profitable touristic areas, large forests, nature parks and other valuable landscape will be fragmented and damaged otherwise.

Since supporters and opposers use landscape aesthetic arguments, the aesthetical effects of power lines are more deeply investigated in the following empirical research.

Because of methodic reasons further landscape elements like trees, animals and people are enclosed into the investigations. Therefore not only the aesthetic effects of these elements are identified, but also the aesthetic appreciation of the power line gets more understandable.    


Using aesthetic preference scales and photographic comparisons various landscape elements are empirically investigated with regard to their aesthetical effectiveness. The results show that for those questioned (55 persons) a power line with lattice pylons of 30 m in hight leads to the complete loss of the highly aesthetic quality of the related landscape (cornfield). As opposed to this inanimate technical structure, animate elements like grazing sheeps in a pasture or a few hikers in the mountains strongly contribute to the aesthetical improvement of the landscapes to go with them. Also, two horsemen on a field path within a large area of arable land do not reduce the aesthetic value of this landscape. As a further result, both a big single oak tree and a row of old oak trees aesthetically appeal to the interviewees much more in a leafed state than as bald trees. Interestingly, several persons perceived the bald trees as inanimate, as well, yet in the sense of “died”. All in all, the results suggest that landscapes – aesthetically speaking – can be conceived as “impression fields”, in which the single impressions of various animate and inanimate elements meet in an integral emotional-aesthetical overall effect.

As the report is written in German, please, refer to the German language site (use link below).

Impressum · Kontakt · last modified01/15/2019

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