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 people’s changing values, cultural imaginaries, social orders and politics. I specialize in the histories, legacies and transformation of the built environments of the 20th century welfare states, most recently by developing landscape-based, feminist, and narrative approaches. My research examines multiple intersecting themes, such as public space, urban natures, social housing, gender, diversity, care, participatory methodologies, historiography, repair, renewal and design as transformation.


I currently work on the project Women in Danish Architecture 1925-1975. A new history of practice and gender, which I co-lead together with Henriette Steiner (2021-2024).

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



I am currently working on an edited volume called Diversifying Histories. Women in architecture and collaborative research methods (with Henriette Steiner, to be published at De Gruyter). My most recent book is Untold Stories. On women, gender and architecture in Denmark  (with Jannie R. Bendsen and Henriette Steiner, Strandberg Publishing 2023), which presents the diverse contributions made by women architects to shaping buildings, cities and landscapes of the Danish welfare society 1930–1980. The book shows how architecture comes into being through creative 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 and asks how the area's industrial open spaces were valued in this process. The book reappraises Carlsberg's open spaces and tells stories of how they emerged through the interplay of materials, practices 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. ed. with Tietjen, Skov, Arkitektskolens Forlag) presents the squatter free-town Christiania in Copenhagen as a laboratory for alternative preservation practices and examines the ways in which this former military area has been transformed into a very particular urban landscape from which, the book argues, authorised heritage preservation practices can be questioned and rethought.

My articles have appeared in journals such as International Journal of Heritage StudiesJournal of Architecture and Architectural Histories, and I have been editor of 10+ academic volumes on architecture, cities, narrative approaches, design as transformation, and more.

Exhibitions and outreach

You can find films, podcasts and short articles from the project Women in Danish Architecture here: With this project group and the Danish Architecture Center, I co-curated the exhibition Women in Architecture in 2022.

As part of Aktionarkiv, I co-organize public oral history seminars, participatory events and exhibitions about contemporary conditions for social housing in Scandinavia. Doing so, we wish to foreground actors and perspectives that don't usually make it to the archive. 

I co-curated the living-heritage section of the HERA-funded research-based exhibitions Public Space in European Social Housing, which was shown at universities and local community centres in Naples, Wroclaw, Copenhagen, Bern and Drammen 2019-2022 and which can now be seen online PuSH


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 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, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, 2019–24

PhD supervisor for Anne Pind, "Eco-feminist spatial practises: Sweden and Denmark at the beginning of the 20th Century" The Danish Academy, School of Architecture, co-supervisor

Supervision of successfully completed PhD-projects 

Nicole De Lalouviere, "Irrigation Systems of Canton Valais. Transformations in Material Culture and the Resilience of Landscape Commons", ETH Zürich. Completed 2023 (co-supervisor).

Lærke Sophie Keil: "Microhistories of Landscape Elements in Albertslund Syd: Plant Beds, a Canal and Garden Fences of Welfare", Graduated 2022 (main supervisor).

Ann-Charlott Erichsen: "Into the green facades. On the values ascribed to a popular cultural phenomenon in contemporary urban development", Graduated 2019 (main supervisor).

Past Post-doc supervision

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, Karin and Georg Boye’s Foundation. 2020-2023.



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