Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes: The Future of the Green Open Spaces of Postwar Danish Social Housing Estates – University of Copenhagen

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Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes: The Future of the Green Open Spaces of Postwar Danish Social Housing Estates

Green open spaces were considered pivotal for ensuring the ‘good life’ in the social housing estates built as a cornerstone of postwar Danish welfare politics. Danish landscape architects created numerous internationally renowned examples of these spaces. At present, these open spaces are being transformed for new purposes. Nevertheless, their landscape architectural legacy as ‘welfare landscapes’ and the spatial qualities they embody are strongly under-researched. As a consequence, we undertake a methodological prototyping of a generative spatial quality analysis to reveal existing assets with the purpose of qualifying ongoing and future development. Expanding landscape architectural knowledge with methodologies and perspectives from urban theory, heritage studies, cultural history, and philosophy, the proposed project asks: How can we understand the spatial qualities of postwar social housing landscapes as a point of departure for considering their future?

The project studies three iconic social housing areas in the Copenhagen Region, which are regarded among the most exquisite projects accomplished by Danish architects, planners, and landscape architects: Bellahøj, Albertslund Syd, and Farum Midtpunkt. We examine which landscape architectural qualities they possessed when they were conceived as well as their receptions today, and we reflect upon how we may enhance and adjust these qualities tomorrow. We reveal the ideological bases and paradoxes of the welfare state programme, tensions that may point to new positive uses and receptions.

The project studies three iconic, social housing areas in the Copenhagen Region that is regarded among the most exquisite done by Danish architects, planners and landscape architects: Bellahøj, Albertslund Syd and Farum Midtpunkt. We examine which landscape architectural qualities they possessed when they were conceived, and their reception today and reflect on how we may enhance and adjust these qualities tomorrow. We reveal the ideological basis and the paradoxes of the welfare state programme, tensions that may point to new positive uses and receptions.

PI and PL: Prof. Ellen Marie Braae, SPL1: Associate Prof. Henriette Steiner, SPL2: Associate Prof.  Anne Tietjen, SPL3: Associate Prof. Svava Riesto. The project comprises three phd-fellows and is guided by an Advisory Board consisting of Prof. Rodney Harrison (UCL), Prof. Thordis Arrhenius (LiU), Prof. Tom Avermaete (TU Delft), Prof. Paola Viganó (IUAV Venezia) and Prof. Anne Whiston Spirn (MIT).

The projet "Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes" is funded by the The Independent Research Fund Denmark.