Københavns Universitet
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PhD thesis defense

Lærke Sophie Keil, IGN, defends her thesis at the Section of Landscape, Architecture and Planning

PhD thesis defense — PhD defence 3 FEB


Date & Time:

Auditorium Landskab, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg

Hosted by:
Section of Landscape, Architecture and Planning


Lærke Sophie Keil defends her thesis,

Microhistories of Landscape Elements in Albertslund Syd: Plant Beds, a Canal and Garden Fences of Welfare
A part of Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark

Associate Professor Svava Riesto, IGN
Professor Tom Avermaete, ETH Zürich

Assessment committee:
Associate Professor Ranja Hautamäki, Aalto University – Finland
Associate Professor Niels Peter Skou, Department of Design and Communication, SDU
Associate Professor Trine A. Carstensen (chair), IGN

By investigating the landscape of Albertslund Syd, a 1960s post-war social housing area in Denmark, the Ph.D. project explores how ideas of welfare have evolved over time, in a negotiation with the users of the landscape and the landscape itself. The thesis examines how this negotiation leaves physical traces in the ‘welfare landscape’, as well, as how these traces change over time as new ideas about welfare emerge. The thesis aims to create a framework for analysing the relationships between spatial, material, and social practices in the welfare landscape through time.
The thesis presents and develops the idea of ‘landscape elements’ through a comprehensive use of empirical material, such as photos, maps, drawings and historical sources. By reducing the scale of investigation and exploring the landscape as it has evolved over time, the research focuses on three major landscape elements in Albertslund Syd: plant beds, a canal, and garden fences.
The three landscape elements are investigated to see how they have changed over time, from their original design and the welfare conceptions of the designers to the current design and practices and welfare understandings they imply and articulate. As a result, new information about Albertslund Syd’s development has emerged, while others add to our understanding of the welfare concepts driving social housing landscapes.
Furthermore, the welfare landscape is approached as a field of tension in which values associated with welfare are constantly negotiated by multiple actors, both human and non-human (e.g. plants, soil, tiles), raising questions on the idea of a causal relationship between materiality and social practices that are prevalent in renovation processes and new developments.
The thesis demonstrates that the welfare landscape of Albertslund Syd was complicit in allowing changing practices to take root and redefine the function and significance of landscape elements, and that the landscape, with its underlying conceptions of welfare, influenced how these shifting practices evolved. Additionally, the thesis demonstrates that, when viewed as dynamic terrains rather than static entities, welfare landscapes function as contemporary dwelling environments in which concepts of welfare are constantly articulated, rearticulated and accommodated.

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary Mikala Heckscher at mikala@ign.ku.dk