Landscapes of Housing


Friday October 14 2016


How does housing shape landscape, and, in turn, how is it shaped by it?

Housing programs lie at the very center of socio-spatial relations and the politics of space. Landscape – broadly defined to include landscape design, ecology, topography, energy infrastructure, aesthetics and ideology – is part of this complex, but its role has largely been ignored in housing studies. The aim of this one-day colloquium, jointly organized by the Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, is to explore how housing shapes landscape and is, in turn, shaped by it.

Landscape has at times been used as the basis for social reform and the creation of “communities of dwelling.” It has also been utilized as a referent for particular housing forms, especially single-family housing, and has been seen as an answer to the perceived social problems associated with mass-produced modernist housing. More recently, housing has been the site of experimentation in ecological design, urban food production, building technology, and improved health.

Bringing together scholars and practitioners, this colloquium will pose questions such as the following:

How have conceptions and practices with respect to landscape shaped novel designs for dwelling over time, and what role have they played in promoting political, social, and environmental policies? What meanings are evoked today by established patterns of housing in post-Socialist cities and informal settings? In what ways have the material aspects of landscape, from concerns over stormwater and flooding to energy infrastructure and topography, shaped these discussions in different ways? Finally, what possibilities exist for scholars and practitioners to work together to develop new ways of thinking about the intersection of housing and landscape, and of implementing such ideas in practice?

The colloquium consists of three panels:

Panel 1: LANDSCAPE & DWELLING features presentations by:

– Daniel Bluestone, Director of Preservation Studies and Professor of Art and Architecture, Boston University
– Sophie Hochhäusl, Assistant Professor of Modern Architecture, Boston University
– Thomas Nybo Rasmussen, Landscape Director, Vandkunsten Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark

Panel 2: LANDSCAPE, HOUSING & THE POST-SOCIALIST CITY is moderated by Eve Blau, Adjunct Professor of the History and Theory of Urban Form and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Principal Investigator, Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, and Márkus Keller, Research Fellow, Crisis History Research Group, Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary) and Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin. It includes presentations by:

– Christina Crawford, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Architecture, Emory University
– Christoph Bernhardt, Senior Researcher and Head of the Department for Historical Research, Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning; Lecturer, Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin


– Christian Werthmann, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Design, Leibniz University
– Vyjayanthi Venturupalli Rao, Director, Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research
– Bruno Carvalho, Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures; Co-director of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.

Opening remarks by John Beardsley, Director of Garden & Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, and Jeanne Haffner, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, and final comments by Ellen Braae, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Copenhagen, and Henriette Steiner, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Copenhagen.

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