Svava Riesto

Svava Riesto

Associate Professor

Member of:

I am an architectural historian and heritage researcher interested in the dynamic relationship between urban landscapes and changing values, cultural imaginaries, social orders, and power. I specialize in the histories, legacies, transformation and imagined futures of 20th-century welfare states’ built environments. My research examines multiple intersecting themes, including public space, social housing, urban natures, gender, care, urban renewal, and forms of collaboration in architecture and research.

I am currently working on the project Women in Danish Architecture 1925–1975: A New History of Practice and Genderwhich I co-lead with Henriette Steiner, 2021–2024. You can find films, podcasts, and short articles from the project here. 

I lead the Landscape Architecture and Urban History Research Group, and together with Luca Csepely-Knorr I am coordinator of the European Architectural History Network’s /EAHN) Interest Group for Women and Gender in Architecture, Landscape and Urban Design.


Publications and outreach

My next book is an edited volume called Diversifying Histories: Women in Architecture and Collaborative Research Methods (with Henriette Steiner, forthcoming from De Gruyter). I am author of Untold Stories: On Women, Gender and Architecture in Denmark (with Jannie R. Bendsen and Henriette Steiner, Strandberg Publishing 2023), which presents women architects’ contributions to the buildings, cities, and landscapes of Denmark’s welfare society during 1930–1980. The book shows how architecture comes into being through collaborations that cut across genders and professional disciplines.

Biography of an Industrial Landscape: Carlsberg’s Urban Spaces Retold (Amsterdam University Press 2017) examines the reinvention of the Carlsberg brewery site in Copenhagen as a city district. The book reappraises Carlsberg’s open spaces and tells the stories of how they emerged through the interplay of materials, practices, economies, and the imagination—shaped and reshaped by water, yeast, industrial working routines, and conflicting ideas about the future city.

The book Forankring i Forandring: Christiania og bevaring som ressource i byomdannelse [Rooted in Change: Christiania and Preservation as a Resource in Urban Transformation (with Anne Tietjen and Pernille Skov, Arkitektskolens Forlag) presents the squatted “free town” Christiania in Copenhagen as a laboratory for alternative conservation practices. It examines how this former military area has transformed into a very particular urban landscape, arguing that it offers a ground from which authorized heritage conservation practices can be rethought.

As part of Aktion Arkiv, I co-organize public oral history seminars,  and exhibits on contemporary social housing in Scandinavia, foregrounding actors and perspectives that do not usually make it to the archive. The exhibition Women in Architecture was shown at the Danish Architecture Centre (DAC) in 2022, and was co-curated by Jannie R. Bendsen, Henriette Steiner, Svava Riesto and the team at DAC.  The exhibition “Social housing as living heritage”  was part of the HERA-funded Public Space in European Social Housing, shown at universities and local community centers in Naples, Wrocław, Copenhagen, Bern, and Drammen in 2019–2022, and online at PuSH

Current teaching, supervision, and mentoring

MSc course leader, Theories and Methods of Landscape Architecture

BSc course leader, Landskabsarkitekturens historie, nutid og fremtid 

Workshops at the introductory courses for PhD fellows at the Faculty of Science, Fundamentals

MSc and BSc dissertation supervisor

Current postdoctoral and PhD supervision

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

PhD co-supervisor for Anne Pind, Eco-Feminist Spatial Practices in Sweden and Denmark at the Beginning of the 20th Century, Danish Academy, School of Architecture/University of Copenhagen


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