NSCPHD1166 Qualitative Research Methodologies within Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Urban Design and Planning

Volume 2015/2016


PLEASE NOTE         

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Research in landscape architecture, as a systematic and organised activity at universities and in research institutions around the world, is of newer date. This is partly to be seen as a result of the profession’s relatively recent establishment, and partly as a result of the general prioritisation of research at the design disciplines’ educational institutions in the latter half of the 20th century. Landscape architecture as a subject area is intertwined with different areas of knowledge. This is also reflected in the methodological apparatuses that research in the field of landscape architecture draw upon and which span from the natural and life sciences to the social sciences and humanities. In addition to well-developed theories and concept formations, each of these areas has adequate corresponding methodologies that can be brought into the field of landscape architecture as part of interdisciplinary research design. Yet, like the other design disciplines, landscape architecture has evolved significant tools, approaches, and bodies of knowledge that involve methodological apparatuses in and of themselves. While these methodological apparatuses are both heterogeneous and remain under-theorised, we propose to define them under the heading of ‘qualitative research methodologies’. By this we mean methodologies that cultivate a strong interpretive element and are driven by questions of ethical urgency due to their links with the practical and aesthetic dimensions of the discipline. Yet, the relevant work done to frame and support this proposition is scattered, and one of the purposes of this PhD course is to bring together some significant positions within this area, and to designate, deepen and contextualise them whilst also bringing them into dialogue with one another.


The purpose of this PhD course is thus to present, discuss and work with qualitative research methodologies within landscape architecture and its related fields such as urban design and architecture. All of the invited guest professors are high-profile capacities from design fields; including architecture, landscape architecture and the humanities. Each of them cultivate methodological frameworks that suggest affiliations with the above-mentioned qualitative perspective and come from internationally acclaimed and highly active research environments that address these wider questions. Seen together, their keynotes will address a broad range of issues concerning historicity, contexuality, knowledge, language, aesthetics, etc., in landscape architecture and urban design research more broadly. Their contributions will be in relation to both theory and practice. The guest professors will lay open the theoretical backgrounds for the methodologies in focus and contextualise them within larger qualitative research landscapes.

The course is structured around three main components:

•  theorising and contextualising methodologies;

•  presentations and feedback about the PhD fellows own methodological considerations;

•  a hands-on, design-driven collaborative workshop addressing questions of methods and processes.

These three components will run in parallel throughout the course days. Thus, this course offers an identification of methodological strategies in ways that go beyond the patching together of methodologies from outside the discipline; instead developing from within design-oriented contexts themselves. Furthermore, the PhD fellows must present methodological considerations related to their own dissertation work. This material constitutes a central contribution to the course and will allow the fellows to receive constructive feedback from the esteemed international guest professors regarding the appropriateness and overall positioning of their methodological apparatuses. The combination of the lectures and presentations coupled with the more hands-on type of enquiries of methods and processes in the design-driven workshop, will provide the participating PhD fellows with a unique and invaluable opportunity to expand upon, reflect on and fine-tune the methodology section of their dissertation.


Learning Outcomes:

The purpose of the PhD course is to map out seminal positions within the field of Qualitative Research Methodologies in landscape architecture and urban design research – in theory and practice alike. Furthermore its aim is to create a clearly defined learning space that offers possibilities for reflecting on one’s own research in relation to contemporary, state-of-the-art qualitative methodologies within landscape architecture and related discipline. The course addresses PhD fellows whose work is situated within the context of a design school or in other ways negotiates the boundary between ‘research’ and ‘design’, by focusing on the production of knowledge with respect to both one’s individual PhD research and via collaborative work. Moreover, the readings that will be offered aim at supporting the PhD fellows’ own research and the creation of their written work.

Lastly, in attending and completing this course, a paper describing the PhD fellows’ own methodological framework (in relation to the topic, the research questions and theories in use) must be written. This paper will provide the basis for an article or chapter and is included as part of the course evaluation.



Relevant literature will be defined in coordination with a precision of relevant fields within landscape architecture, design and urban design, addressing questions about the nature of qualitative research methodologies in design contexts and in a close collaboration with the guest professors. The long-term perspective is to offer regular PhD courses at the Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning at Copenhagen University which focus on qualitative analysis methodologies and which use this course and previous courses to establish a foundation.



The course is structured into three phases: preparation, participation, written assignment. The preparation consists partly of general readings and partly of writing a paper, as well as preparing a presentation describing the methodology employed in the PhD fellow’s own dissertation work. This text must be submitted before the course begins and must be presented at the course in a plenum for collegial feedback. After the course days, each participant will revise the initial version of their paper and resubmit it in order to receive final certification of course participation.



Preparation and submission of paper addressing methodologies, week 39,

21-25 September 2015

Course days: week 41, 5-9 October 2015

Resubmission deadline and comments: week 43, 19-23 October 2015



5-9 October 2015


Week 41









Catharina Dyrssen, (Chalmers)



Ellen Braae (University of Copenhagen)


Tom Avermaete

(TU Delft)


Simon Swaffield

(Lincoln University, NZ)








Arrival and Lunch

PhD-fellow Presentation / Discussion

PhD-fellow Presentation / Discussion

PhD-fellow Presentation / Discussion

Workshop Exhibition and Closing Session



Welcoming Address: Ellen Braae and Henriette Steiner


Lecture + Site Visit (Lunch Bag)





Introduction to Workshop:

Jasper Ludewig (Architect, Sydney)







Keynote / Copenhagen Landscape Lecture:

Peter Carl (London Metropolitan University)

+ Drinks


Keynote /

Copenhagen Landscape Lecture:

Ross Anderson (University of Sydney) and Jasper Ludewig

 + Drinks










Main venue: Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg C

Morning keynotes: meeting room ‘von Langen’ in the ‘new building’, first floor.

PhD-fellow presentation/discussion: different meeting rooms, tba.

Workshop: model lab in the ‘old building’, first floor.

Lunch: ground floor, ‘new building’; dinner: tba.

Evening keynotes: ‘Festauditoriet’, located at Bülowsvej 17, 1870 Frederiksberg C


Keynote Speakers and Guest Lecturers:

Ross Anderson

Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sydney where he lectures in History and Theory and is degree programme director of the Bachelor in Architecture. His own research focusses on modern and contemporary German architecture. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK.



Tom Avermaete

Professor of Architecture at TU Delft focusing as a researcher on post-war architecture in Europe and abroad. He has a special interest in discourses and ideals and how it is manifest in architecture.



Peter Carl

Professor and head of the PhD Programme in Architecture at CASS at London Metropolitan University. The PhD course “sees architecture through the rubric of Practical Wisdom, which combines concrete design issues with their cultural significance as disclosed through phenomenological hermeneutics, in order to better grasp the nature of the ethical claims within late capitalist cities.“ Peter Carl has lectured and taught internationally and writes on the history and meaning of the architectural and urban conditions for praxis.



Catharina Dyrssen

Chalmers Technical University Professor of Architecture and design methodology focusing on how design and an architect’s work process can be developed and used within research, both within architecture and in trans-disciplinary research. The overall goal is to strengthen more long-term values within building and town-development.



Simon Swaffield

Professor in Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University, New Zealand and spans the field of landscape architecture, urban design and regional planning mainly focusing at sustainable development. With Elen Deming he is the author of (2011) Landscape Architecture Research: Inquiry/Strategy/Design, John Wiley & Sons, NY and he has edited Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader (2002) University of Pennsylvania Press.



Workshop Convener:

Jasper Ludewig

Sydney-based architect and author of the honours dissertation Made Ground: A Spatial History of Sydney Park (2013) from the University of Sydney which won the RIBA dissertation prize in 2014. 



Professor Ellen Braae and Associate Professor Henriette Steiner
Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning
Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Rolighedsvej 23
1958 Frederiksberg C

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 40
  • Course Preparation
  • 40
  • Practical exercises
  • 30
  • Total
  • 110
Type of assessment