Artificial Landscapes and Total Environments: ’Environment’ as Key Term in the Design Debate around 1970

Aktivitet: Foredrag og mundtlige bidragKonferenceoplæg


’The Depressive Deep Freezer Called Model Housing’ was just one of the many critical descriptions of the industrialised housing of high modernism around 1970. Critiques of alienating and inhumane planning and housing came from many sides and commented on both social, psychological, political, ecological and aesthetic problems. But one thing in common was the notion of ’environment’, or ’miljø’ as it was called in the Scandinavian debates. This notion performed as a lens both to gather – but also to muddle – the many perspectives together. The notion carried meanings as both habitat (Canguilhem), creative milieu (Constant) and spatial design. The critics looked at both physical environment and social milieu (Gehl) and experimented with total environments, open systems and participatory building (Ussing & Hoff) to create awareness and find new ways of planning spaces of welfare. In these ways the notion of ’environment’ was central to ideas of a both mental, cultural and physical transformation throughout any scale. ”Design means coming to grips with our environment and doing so from a socially responsible viewpoint. […] Our environment consists of landscapes, regions, cities, climates, shelters, tools, devices, informations, products, happenings, messages and much else.” (Papanek 1970b) And even the education of architects and designers should be reformed according to this broad understanding of environments. It opened a general debate on public design and institutional aesthetics. We will sketch the complex discourse on environment in Denmark and Sweden around 1970 and look into some of the dilemmas of mediating the environments as well as solutions to make people participate and grasp the wishful emancipation. The muddling of aspects and the dilemmas are still stumbling stones to our debates of both spaces of welfare as well as ’environmental’ sustainability today.
Periode6. maj 2021
BegivenhedstitelSpaces of Welfare: Architecture, Design, Conservation
PlaceringKøbenhavn, DanmarkVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • Environment
  • Welfare
  • Design
  • Open System