Women professionals and their work are relatively unseen in the history of Landscape architecture. This is also the case in our Archive, where the majority of the collections are male contributions – at least at first glance. To change this perception, an international research network was initiated with the aim of contributing to a more complete understanding of Scandinavian landscape architecture. Our ‘History and Theory’ Research Group and the Archive, as one of three main partners in this research network, hosted the second physical workshop on 21-22 March 2022 at the campus Ås. Around 20 researchers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway participated in this workshop.
International network meeting on 21-22 March 2022 at the campus Ås
Focusing on the representation of women in archives, the workshop explored how to better document and understand contributions of female professionals to landscape architecture in the past and today. We have seen that female garden/landscape architects of the past were often unmarried and had no descendants to preserve their legacy, so much of the potential archival materials were lost. In other cases, the female garden/landscape architect collaborated with a male colleague (sometimes a husband) and her work went more or less under his name and therefore her name was hidden. In relation to this, the PhD candidate Berit Rønsen from NMBU gave a presentation about the garden architect Torborg Zimmer and concluded that researching female garden architects and their contributions requires an alternative and more creative approach. We cannot merely rely on standard and established archives.
Former colleague Mette Eggen (left) with a presentation on her own career. Phd candidate Berit Rønsen from NMBU (lower right) presented parts of her PhD project on Torborg Zimmer. Professor Annegreth Dietze-Schirdewahn with an introduction to female professionals in the Archive of Norwegian Landscape Architecture.
In this workshop we also raised awareness of how and in what ways oral histories can be used to document and understand the contributions of women in the field. Our former colleague and landscape architect Mette Eggen was invited to present her own history, entitled “Where are the women…? – Experiences from a long career”. This was followed by an interactive group exercise, where researchers worked in small groups and explored interviews as a method of uncovering and securing oral archives and narratives. As a result, an extensive interview guide for women professionals in the discipline was produced. The outcomes of the workshop in Ås will be presented in a book chapter as part of the research network contribution. The book is edited by the colleagues from University of Copenhagen and expected to be published in 2023.
Work group discussions and interactive excercise with professor Catharina Nolin from Stockholm University
All photograps by courtesy of Liv Løvetand, Copenhagen University.