Research projects within Design of Urban Landscapes

Last changed: 03 March 2023


Gunnar Cerwén
(Formas Mobility Grant 2022-2026)
Noise is recognized as one of the main environmental challenges globally, with major impact on experience and health. International agencies and policymakers have promoted “quiet areas” as a means to counteract noise. Previous research has highlighted the potential of quiet areas to support health, but also pointed to knowledge
gaps and ambiguities associated with the broadly defined concept. In order to safeguard proper implementation, there is a need to further uncover how quiet areas influence health.

The overall purpose of the present project is to increase the understanding of experienced qualities in quiet areas and evaluate the associated health benefits. Initiatives for quiet areas in Sweden are mapped and health effects studied in situ using measurement of visitors' physiological responses combined with interviews.

The results are expected to provide a deeper understanding for the qualities in quiet areas that influence health, particularly in terms of sound source combinations, multisensory experiences and contextual factors. The project will also contribute with an increased understanding of how noise disturbance vary beyond sound pressure levels.

The project is multidisciplinary in nature and incorporates a mixed-methods approach rooted in environmental psychology, landscape architecture and soundscape research. The project connects with contemporary discourses in those fields, including biodiversity, sustainability, densification and salutogenic environments.



Caroline Dahl 
(PhD project, Lundberg Foundation Grant) 
This doctoral investigation focuses on the masterplan as today’s primary tool for urban planning and design. It sets out to explore alternative modes of operating in order to formulate revised or alternate protocols for the transformation of urban landscapes. To do so, it draws upon inherent attributes of the discipline of landscape architecture; the ability to foster dynamic processes, to recognize the undeveloped as opportunities, and to raise action-oriented site knowledge. The doctoral project aims to introduce a landscape perspective and design thinking into the practice of urban transformation with the goal of freeing such projects up from Modernist principles and a masterplan culture. Using literature studies and design critiques of current transformation projects, such as Ile de Nantes in Nantes, France and Frihamnen in Gothenburg, Sweden, the studies intend to inform a design experiment. Additional concerns of this doctoral project include the promise (or menace) of parametric computation and how we understand change of space instead of state of space.


Lisa Diedrich
(independent research for LAE Foundation) 
Landscape Architecture Europe (LAE) is a foundation that seeks to enhance the dialogue in landscape architecture on a European level by publishing a triennial yearbook. Produced for the LAE Foundation and the European branch of the International Federation of Landscape Architecture (IFLA Europe), the books aspire to be the definitive critical review of the state of the art of European landscape architecture. This research, carried out as chief editor for the book series, engages with practitioners in Europe, a jury of design personalities of various backgrounds and origins, and a team of researchers, journalists and teachers to select, interpret and publish the most forward looking contemporary design projects in landscape architecture.

Diedrich, L., Hendriks, M., Lindgren, C., Friesen, M. (eds.) (2018), Care Create Act. Landscape Architecture Europe # 5. (Wageningen: Landscape Architecture Europe Foundation / Uitgeverij Blauwdruk).


Lisa Diedrich
(independent research) 
Post-industrial transformation poses one of the biggest challenges of urban planning since the late 20th century, and a major task for the physical design disciplines. Design answers most often aim at radical turn-over or radical museumification of derelict industrial land, without much interest for the qualities of the specific sites. Behind these dualistic approaches lies a shadow zone of alternative, more site-responsive answers, observed in contemporary transformation projects. This project explores radicant design as a concept that brings transient aspects of site back to mind, such as human uses and processes of nature, so far often overlooked. The act of design, rather than formalization of static site components, becomes then an act of continuous translation. Such reconceptualization of design builds on the exploration of design practice and promotes design research as a transdisciplinary endeavor in a historic moment in which no one discipline can claim to solve globally entangled problems alone.

Diedrich, L. (in publication), Translating Sites – a plea for Radicant Design. Burns, C. and Kahn, A. (eds), Site Matters – Design Concepts, Histories and Strategies. 2nd edition. (New York: Routledge)


Lisa Diedrich 
Cooperation with Gini Lee, University of Melbourne 
(independent research) 
Within urban development designers all too often dismiss existing site features to build up sites anew, which is resource-intensive and unsustainable in regard to social and ecological systems. This common planning and building practice is based on an inherited understanding of design as creation ex novo, a prevalent architectural paradigm since the Renaissance and highly appreciated during 20th century modernism. To counter this tacitly accepted heritage and to pave the way for a resource-saving and respectful practice, this project relies on an alternative understanding of design as transformation of that what already exists on a site. The question is then, how to identify site values, be they material, immaterial or dynamic, as a basis for a sustainable development of urban landscapes, especially if related to water systems? Consequently, this research aims to develop a method for capturing site qualities through deep fieldwork-based empirical enquiry and evaluation that becomes part of the conceptual design act: the travelling transect. Its theoretical foundation relies on a reinterpretation of Alexander von Humboldt’s trans-areal and mobile empirical science, which this research proposes to unfold.

Diedrich, L; Lee, G. (in publication), Disruption Onsite: Weather, the Tyranny of Distance and Archipelagic Approaches to Fieldwork. Horrigan, P. and Oles, Th. Fieldwork in Landscape Architecture – Methods Actions Tools (London: Routledge)

Diedrich, L; Lee, G. (2018), Transareal excursions into landscapes of fragility and endurance: a contemporary interpretation of Alexander von Humboldt’s mobile science. Braae, E, Steiner, H. (eds) Routledge Companion for Research in Landscape Architecture (London: Routledge)

Diedrich, L; Lee, G.: Travelling Transect – an approach to mobile knowledge generation. Lecture Kosmos Conference, Navigating the Sustainability Transformation in the 21st century, Humboldt University Berlin, 8/2019       

Diedrich, L; Lee, G.: Travelling Transect – reinterpreting Alexander von Humboldt’s Tableau Physique. Lecture at Symposium ‘Design Research for Urban Landscapes’, 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt, Humboldt University Berlin, 8/2019         


Lisa Diedrich
Cooperation with Flavio Janches, University of Buenos Aires 
(Linneaus Palme Partnership) 
This research introduces a global and cross-disciplinary perspective into learning processes understood as research. It builds on a networked studio approach between an urbanism and a landscape architecture programme (University of Buenos Aires, SLU University Malmö) which collaborates with other urbanism and landscape schools (TU Delft , University of Stuttgart, TU Berlin), and aims at educating young professionals and researchers to critically reflect upon and at the same time devise concrete, sometimes hands-on actions, to overcome exclusion in urban landscapes characterized by particular water regimes. Climate change and globalising economies are global challenges that have an impact on the spatial organisation of urban sites on the local level. Educating young landscape architects and urbanists from different localities of the globe together means to address both the global dimension of designing urban water landscapes, and local differences. The project aims at formulating local pedagogical formats for teaching and research across continental, cultural and geographical boundaries.

Diedrich, L.: Changing Narratives from a Landscape Perspective. Lecture at INVIHAB research institute, University of Córdoba, Argentina, 11/2018            Diedrich, L.: Changing Narratives from a Landscape Perspective. Lecture at FADU, University of Buenos Aires, 11/2018                                                        Diedrich, L., Janches, F., Sepulveda, D.: ‘Can we co-transfer urban transformation knowledge?’. Lecture and workshop at the International Transdisciplinarity Conference Göteborg, 9/2019                                                          


Lisa Diedrich, Mads Farso
(pedagogical research) 
Urbanisation is a global trend, and since industrialisation intervening in the urban realm has increasingly become a task for landscape architects. In Europe landscape architects have developed a strong reputation as professionals of the urban environment. In times of rapid change of ecological, economic and demographic patterns, which means in times of extremely unpredictable urban futures, the skills, work modes, methods and knowledge of today are often outdated tomorrow. This research involves students in  an open-ended learning process that focuses on re-formulating questions and re-defining methodology, instead of posing standard questions and training through traditional methods.

Diedrich, L.; Farso, M. (2019), Teaching the Unpredictable – Urban Landscapes. Jorgensen, K. et al (eds) Teaching Landscape (London: Routledge)

Diedrich, L.; Farso, M. (2019), Teaching the unpredictable, critically engaging with urban landscapes. Proceedings of the ECLAS 2019 Conference at NMBU Oslo, 171-172


Mads Farsø 
(independent research) 
This project focuses on the ambient nature of spaces in film and architecture, and how a new aesthetic language of architecture can be developed by using film to promote a greater awareness of definitive roles of time, ambience and movement in defining spatial landscape characteristics and conceptions. The project aims to develop and exemplify new spatial typologies in time, space and sound using film as a tool. It investigates how film can articulate overlooked values in our everyday surroundings and landscapes. On a strategic level the project intends to demonstrate the potential uses of new media in the landscape architecture field; it also intends to reframe, reconceptualize and rephrase the qualities found in the modern, suburban, open, landscape city.

New project project and network homepage launched 2019
Related research lectures on film & architecture provided in 2019 at
Nordic Architecture Forum, University of Cambridge, ECLAS Norway
Seminar + workshop arranged October 3rd+4rd at STUDIO Malmö


#MORE THAN A GARDEN – international research consortium application – in process for FORMAS / KAW foundation calls Spring 2020

Mads Farsö (research application & consortium leader)
#MoreThanAGarden will use applied, artistic co-research in community gardens as the basis for developing new solutions to mitigate current societal and environmental challenges. A multidisciplinary, global consortium proposing artistic perspectives and innovative micro-ecological solutions using an explicit bottom-up art-based strategy. Local constitutions and NGOs will be empowered in new quintuple helix outdoor laboratory gardens of government, business, academy, civil society and artists - which includes artistic approaches as cultivation vehicles for new policy solutions and community agency.

Strategy is threefold:

1. Map and promote already existing artistic socially based projects
2. Develop a new multidisciplinary, cross-cultural, comparative, participatory and applied research school, a garden approach& media platform to mobilise innovative research of artistic approaches as strategic policy vehicle for societal change
3. Initiate, assess and exhibit the artistic co-research of 4 testbed commons or schools of cultivation targeting a diverse range of societal and environmental challenges in EU

#MORE THAN A GARDEN – Swedish artistic research / SLU campus exhibition application [Formas communication grant - rejected]

Mads Farsö, Lisa Diedrich, Lotte Möller (external curator/research assistant)
#MoreThanAGarden communicates the unique research of the Alnarp Landscape Laboratory to a broad audience through public artworks installed on the SLU campus. Three artists/artist groups paired with landscape laboratory researchers will work closely together over a period of up to 12 months as artists-in-residence and co-researchers at SLU. The artists will use the research developed together with the SLU scientists to create three public permanent art works.
The artistic co-research strategy has two objectives:
1) communicate and highlight the landscape lab research to a wider non-academic audience in public exhibitions
2) challenge academic thought & research within the SLU and other landscape labs/campuses worldwide through art

An appointed research curator will facilitate, supervise and publish on the co-research process and outcomes, which will include workshops, public seminars, a permanent public exhibition on the SLU campus with an audio guide, and a website documenting the project in film, images and words. The project will explore and manifest how the developing field of art-science can provide new values, tools or strategies for researchers to influence policy makers and communities, locally and globally.


Mads Farsö, Maria Finn (future SLU post doc), Anna Jacobsen, Anne Margrethe Wagner (University of Copenhagen), Elisabeth Friis (Lunds University)
Through an artistic investigation we wish to collect experiences concerning resilience in the context of the community Sjöbergen, in Göteborg, to mediate and manifest a multifaceted story about a unique place. The research will be conducted in a multi-disciplinary, inter-cultural co-creating field, in which all research participants each bring something forward from their various backgrounds; art, landscape architecture, film, geography, garden history and literature. On the collected experiences and artistic research made in Sjöbergen, we believe to harness and narrate a unique community identity that will be useful for future understandings of the value of the area. We find it appropriate to conduct this investigation with various theories, approaches and tools that we have developed within our individual fields of research and artistic research practices. With this we hope to enable and create large synergies in approach, thinking, perspective and outreach for multidisciplinary, artistic research in general and for Sjöbergen in particular. The complexity of the area will thus be examined through different disciplinary methodologies that will enable us to map the resilience of the community in focus, e.g. to UNs Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, while simultaneously developing methods for knowledge-sharing and spatial analysis within artistic research. Our main objective is to mediate what Sjöbergen achieves for the common good, by inclusion, sharing, and co-creation.



Andrea Kahn, Lisa Diedrich, Gunilla Lindholm
(pedagogical research) 
Historically, landscape researchers and educators have adopted either natural science, social science, humanities or design-based research methods, depending on the project or educational programme at hand. Devising new research models places heavy demands on landscape education. It requires new partnerships between the academy and society; new modes of pedagogical cooperation between different landscape knowledge areas; and new teaching methods from undergraduate through post-graduate level. Critical thinking, reflective practices and transdisciplinary collaborative skills are increasingly recognized as foundational for addressing complexity. This research explores how landscape architecture pedagogy, at the PhD level in particular, can be reimagined to foster those crucial habits of mind.  

Diedrich, L; Kahn, A.; Lindholm, G. (2019), Animating Criticality and Transdisciplinarity in Landscape Architecture education. Proceedings of the ECLAS 2019 Conference at NMBU Oslo, 154-155



Andrea Kahn, Lisa Diedrich
(SLU Urban Futures Grant) 
The research collects tools and techniques for transforming cities in times characterised by uncertain demographies, economies, and ecologies. This situation demands a transdisciplinary approach to engage the cross-categorical melange of issues operating on urban regions.  Local land use regulation, zoning legislation, environmentally certified and quantitatively measurable urban typologies offer incremental advances, but sustainable urban transformation poses what Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber call a wicked problem (1973). It requires a new framing and moving beyond sectorial models of planning operations that produced non-sustainable cities in the first place.

Diedrich, L.; Kahn, A. (2019), Cross the Line to make the most of uncertainty. Introduction to dossier ‘Crossing the line – for uncertain times’. ’scape: The International Magazine for Landscape Architecture and Urbanism #16 2019: 10–17

Diedrich, L.; Wells, S. (2019), To Utopia. ’scape: The International Magazine for Landscape Architecture and Urbanism #16 2019: 80-91



Andrea Kahn, Lisa Diedrich
(SLU Urban Futures Critical Practices project)
The research explores how “synthesis” critically re-imagined beyond the conventional academic literature review may be mobilized as a potential and powerful transdisciplinary format. It starts from the claim that transdisciplinarity, while popular in principle, is not yet viable in practice, as it lacks proven working formats, methods, or means for communicating outcomes. The project proposes that reimagining synthesis through a design thinking and practice lens has potential to deliver useful models for those transdisciplinary actors seeking to navigate, collate, distil and communicate (synthesize) knowledge outcomes generated through diverse knowledge practices.  

Diedrich, L; Kahn, A; Bylund, J; Wrangston, C. (2019) CROSSING THE LINE - REIMAGINING SYNTHESIS WORK: URBAN LIVING LABS AS A TEST CASE International Transdisciplinarity Conference 2019, Joining Forces for Change) (Gothenburg, Sweden).



Andrea Kahn
Independent Research (with Carol Burns, co-editor, USA)
This project explores what has changed in the fifteen years since Site Matters was first published. A practical urgency compels recognition that site concepts and constructs be construed as multifaceted, systemic, and transdisciplinary—interlinked, constantly changing, unpredictable, and hyper-relational. The research addresses that need by re-editioning the anthology, adding new material to complement the initial volume. Drawing contributions from outside the traditional design disciplines as well from within, it traces and tracks important developments in site thinking since the early 2000s, including, among others: climate change, landscape as infrastructure, the politics of site,  and proliferation of participatory and transdisciplinary site transformation practices.

Kahn, A. Burns C. Eds. (forthcoming), Site Matters 2nd Edition (Routledge/Taylor Francis)



Johan Wirdelöv
(PhD project, Lundberg Foundation Grant)
Street furniture can no longer be thought of as a generic resource to an equally general and abstract “public”, because an increasingly hyper-diverse society produces increasing differences in the dependency on urban furniture. There is a conceptual gap in how contemporary societies in the western world think about cultures of street furniture in cities, and followingly, a lack of methods to compare and analyze how cities differ at this scale level. This research aims at a contribution towards conceptualizing street furniture as a socio-material urban concept related to different social roles of these physical artefacts.



Gunilla Lindholm
(independent research)
Urban planning and design make use of landscape visualizations in different stages of urban transformation projects; in comprehensive planning and visionary policy documents, pre-project site studies, during planning processes as well as in the marketing of buildings, districts and cities. These landscape representations strongly reduce the materialities, character and atmosphere of the experiential landscapes they represent. This long-term project aims at understanding (especially urban) landscapes as subjective experiences, in this sense manifold, and the translation of this manifoldness within the likewise subjective actions within urban planning and design. The publications so far deal with problematization of the landscape concept (2012), the differentiation between the two dichotomies “green/grey” and “private/public” in urban land mapping (2017) and the confusion between “land” and “landscape” in urban transformation situations (2019).  One possible further track in this research is to study visualizations within the process of transdisciplinary urban innovation projects (application to Formas 2019).

Lindholm, G. (2019) Land and Landscape; Linking Use, Experience and Property Development in Urban Areas. Land, Vol 8:9, 137.


Lisa Diedrich, Professor

The Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, SLU, +46 40-41 54 24