Svava Riesto

Svava Riesto

Associate Professor

I am an associate professor in the history, heritage and theory of landscape architecture. My research contributes historical perspectives to contemporary architectural and urban questions, especially concerning climate change, ecology and social justice. I focus on the buildings, infrastructural complexes and landscapes of the 20th century welfare states, which left more significant marks on European landscapes than any other period. Today, as cities need to address this living heritage ecologically and socially just ways my research contributes knowledge and frameworks with which we can build such approaches. My key topics span from social housing, public parks to climate adaptation technologies and vernacular settlements. I am concerned with questions of how we can diversify historiography, build inclusive heritage practices and engage with local communities and other societal actors as a key aspect of research and teaching. 

From 2020-2023 I lead the project Women in Danish Architecture 1925-1975. A new history of practice and gender together with Henriette Steiner. The project contributes to building a more just and comprehensive understanding of how the buildings, landscapes and cities of the Danish welfare state came about, focussing on collaboration across genders and practices. You can hear a podcast about methods and findings in the project Women in Danish Architecture here (in Danish). English-speakers can read an interview with me about the project here


Since spring 2023, I lead the new research group Landscape Architecture and Urban History. 



Among my books are Biography of an Industrial Landscape: Carlsberg’s Urban Spaces Retold (Amsterdam University Press 2017), ByWomen. A guidebook to everyday architecture in Greater Copenhagen (with Liv Løvetand Rahbek and Henriette Steiner) and the co-edited Vademecum: 77 Minor Terms for Writing Urban Places (NAi Publishers 2020, with Havik, Pint and Steiner), European Mass Housing Landscapes (special issue of Landscape Research with Braae, Tietjen, Steiner, 2021) and Forankring i Forandring. Christiania og bevaring som ressource i byomdannelse (ed. with Tietjen, Skov, Arkitektskolens Forlag).

My next books will be Untold Stories about women, gender and architecture in Denmark (Published in June 2023, Strandberg Publishing, with Jannie Rosenberg Bendsen and Henriette Steiner) and a book about feminist transnational historiography (edited volume, deGruyter, with Henriette Steiner).


Exhibitions and outreach

I often collaborate with local communities and other societal actors in my research and teaching, and I draw from several years’ experience working in participatory urban planning and landscape design. 

I co-curated the historical part of the critically acclaimed exhibition Women at DAC (May-October 2022) together with the team of the research project Women in Danish Architecture and the Danish Architecture Centre. Other examples of my curatorial work is the exhibition Wunderstadt at the Galerie Aedes Berlin, Albertslunds Øhav at the local town hall Albertslund and, the living-heritage section of the HERA-funded exhibitions PuSH Public Space in European Social Housing. 

I am part of Action Archive -a group of researchers and artists who co-organize public oral history seminars, participatory events and exhibitions to give voice to actors and perspectives that don't usually make it to the archive.


Current teaching, supervision and mentoring

MSc course leader, Theories and Methods of Landscape Architecture

BSc course leader, Landskabsarkitekturens historie, nutid og fremtid

MSc and BSc dissertation supervisor

Current post-doctoral supervision:

Postdoctoral mentor for Heidi Svenningsen Kajita, (Im)possible Instructions: Inscribing Use-Value in the Architectural Design Process, international postdoc based at Newcastle University, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, 2019–21


Supervisor for postdoctoral researcher Jannie Rosenberg Bendsen Women in Danish Architecture, together with Henriette Steiner. Project funded by Realdania, the Danish Arts Foundation, National Building Fund, Dreyer’s Foundation, Boyes Foundation. 2020-2023.



PhD supervision (2 gratuated, as main supervisor). Currently supervisor for :

Anne Pind, The Danish Academy, School of Architecture, co-supervisor

Nicole De Lalouviere, ETH Zürich, co-supervisor



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