Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes
This project explores relationships between landscapes of social housing and the construction of the Danish welfare state in the post-war period. Hereby we aim to establish a new understanding of landscapes of social housing as ‘welfare landscapes’ in order to contribute to the debate on their future preservation and development and to create new knowledge about architecture and welfare politics from a landscape perspective.
Access to open spaces was considered pivotal for ensuring the social welfare and individual wellbeing of residents in the numerous social housing estates built as a cornerstone of welfare politics between 1945-1975. Many of these became internationally renowned for precisely their high quality designed landscapes, while social housing estates have also long been blamed for being socially and physically problematic, culminating recently with the 2018 Danish national ghetto policy.
Today, welfare landscapes of social housing are substantially transformed to meet new challenges ranging from material decay, to spatial and social segregation, to climate adaptation and new ways of life. Yet surprisingly little attention is given to their historical legacies. We lack knowledge about their material and spatial qualities, their social and cultural uses and how they are related to shifting ideas about welfare. Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes (Welland) thus aims for prototyping a research strategy to foster a relational understanding of welfare landscapes of social housing.
Welland is carrying out interdisciplinary and innovative research bridging design and humanities. It exchanges landscape architecture, urban design, cultural studies and architectural philosophy and makes use of a wide set of research methodologies also deploying creative practices as design and exhibitions as knowledge exchange and production means.
Welland is a 4-year research project (2016-2020) funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. The project is hosted by the Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning, IGN, University of Copenhagen.
- A new network for Welfare and Landscapes has obtained funding from NOS_HS (Dec 2019)
- 2020 Welland will have a session on the upcoming ACHS 5th Biennial Conference in London in August.
- 2020 WELLAND will have a session on the up coming EAHN2020 conference in Edinburgh in June.
- 2019-20 The Welland team prepares a special issue of Landscape Research entitled Welfare Landscapes of Social Housing, with contributions from the project team and international scholars. Expected publication 2020.
Practicing Welfare Landscapes questions the social role of Danish post-war housing estates from a landscape perspective.
The many large-scale housing estates that were realized in Denmark 1945-1975 relied on novel ideas about how the physical landscape could improve the lives of their residents. Yet, despite these high ambitions, the social capacities of these landscapes have been subject to massive critique. Surprisingly, however, despite of the numerous contemporary renewal projects, little knowledge exists about the social roles of these landscapes.
This sub-project takes a deep dive into selected Danish social housing landscapes and explores how their material articulation relates to specific ideas about social welfare, individual wellbeing and citizenship in the welfare state.
We seek to inform the contemporary debate about renewal, preservation, demolition and renovation by showing how specific welfare landscapes absorb frictions by alternating social practices over time. Further, we develop theoretical concepts and methodologies to study how physical landscape elements and figures are entangled with shifting and contested ideas concerning the collective and the home, childhood, gender, individuality and more.
Materialising welfare landscapes (of social housing) explores how welfare materialised in and around the landscapes of three iconic post-war social housing estates in metropolitan Copenhagen; how these welfare landscapes have been transformed in relation to changing spatial practices and ideas about welfare, housing and the city; and how welfare landscapes could be materialised in the future according to new challenges and political agendas. Drawing on actor-network theory the project unpacks dynamic relationships between things, people and ideas as socio-material assemblages across multiple scales from the local open space to the city and the region at large. Through analytical maps and drawings and speculative projects for possible futures the project aims at contributing to a new relational understanding of welfare landscapes to inform their future transformation and to add to an emerging body of knowledge about relationships between welfare and spatial design from a landscape perspective.
Welfare Imagined exposes conflicting discourses of Danish post-war housing estates, documenting, analysing, and experimenting with the diverse narratives, images and ideas they have fostered. With a focus on the ‘green’ open spaces, visual and written archival material is studied alongside more recent cultural representations of the estates and their landscapes e.g. novels or films. This is complemented by on-site explorations e.g. with photography, thereby contributing to a re-configuration and re-conceptualization of the housing estates by means of creating new representations. We hereby aim to historicize, contextualize and provide a framework for critical discussion of the Danish post-war landscape architecture tradition and, in this way, illuminate the changing ideas behind the very concept of ‘welfare’ in this context.
Ariadne is to bring together and synthesize the knowledge produced by the three other subprojects into one methodological framework for understanding spatial quality in Danish postwar social housing estates in a past-present-future perspective. On an everyday level, the Ariadne subproject works as a managerial strategy, vertically securing the exchange of the Welland-group and the Advisory Board and the exchange between the triple-layered group-structure formed by the landscape architect PhD-fellows, the subproject leaders representing and expanded field of knowledge and the PI. Horizontally the Ariadne subproject ensures the project’s progress by weaving together and exchanging knowledge on various levels throughout the process. From setting up internal working seminars on key-terms, framing the collaborative topics with the advisory board to steering the accumulative and synthesizing processes into seminars and publication and dissemination.
Ellen Braae, Professor, Architect MAA, PhD (Subproject 4 leader)
Anne Tietjen, Associate Professor, Architect MAA, PhD
Henriette Steiner, Associate Professor, Cand.Mag., PhD
Svava Riesto, Associate Professor, Cand.Mag., PhD
Welland – Reconfiguring Welfare Landscapes
Welland is a 4-year research project funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.
The project is hosted by the section for Landscape Architecture and Planning.
Cell: +45 29 17 71 17