Seminar on Landscape Democracy

Time and place: Tuesday 10 October 2017 09:30-16:00 in UR 328

Please RSVP by 30 September here

Landscapes are complex environments both physically and socially. Addressing contemporary challenges requires multidisciplinary knowledge and collaboration. In this seminar three inspiring speakers will introduce their work and perspectives on landscape democracy and spatial justice in order to stimulate a critical discussion on the ways in which landscape scholars and practitioners as well as experts in global development can get involved and work to address burning issues relating to landscape justice in the global context.

The present increasing refugee crisis brings migrants to the doorstep of Europe, also requiring development studies knowledge and skills in welcoming and facilitating integration of migrant populations from the global south. A landscape approach can have an important role addressing such challenges. This discussion will take place in the context of a current plan to establish a new master’s degree at the Faculty of Landscape and Society that will engage with these topics.



Randy Hester, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture, UC Berkeley – USA

Victoria Kiechel, Architect and Faculty Member in Global Environmental Politics, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC – USA

Line Ramstad, NorwegianLandscape architect, founder of the NGO Gyaw Gyaw Thailand that focuses on sustainable architecture and democracy in practice.




Randy Hester

Measuring Injustice, Designing Justice

Randy Hester

Progress towards a just society is seldom achieved until invisible injustices are made visible in a way that they can be measured and depicted so convincingly that power must be redistributed to redress the inequality. This presentation introduces simple ways to measure injustices and correct them through design. It summarises years of research about the skills that landscape architects must have to effectively do democratic design.

Injustice is a significant part of democracy in the United States from Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson to Negro Removal and the Trail of Tears. Environmental injustices there are typically related to inaccessibility, unequal distribution of resources and exclusion. The experience may not be relevant in Norway, but some aspects may be. These thoughts will hopefully advance the discussion about inclusion and democracy. The focus is on designing with marginalised people including racial and economic minorities, new immigrants, as well as the very young and old.

Landscape architects and other design professionals have important contributions in advancing justice because they make the invisible and unimagined visible. They can measure and draw almost anything. They can map injustices and draw power maps. They design places where justice is contested. They can imagine inclusive form that antagonists are blinded to.

Three areas of environmental inequity are discussed with examples from practice that address an injustice. Access: Can I get where I need to go? involves necessities like transportation to jobs, healthy food and medical care using low income housing in Baltimore as the case.

Distribution: involves who gets the good things and who gets the bad things from housing and open space to polluting industry and flood hazards. Distribution of urban wilderness in Los Angeles is the case.

Inclusion: Am I welcome? Whose needs is it designed for? involves the policy and detailed design of public facilities from sacred sites to park benches. Cases include Old Men’s Park in Oakland and Mauna Kea Mountain in Hawaii. A framework of “Tolerance for the Other” and celebration of difference conclude with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington.

Victoria Kiechel
The Just City: Social Equity Issues and Urban Sustainability

Victoria Kiechel

The third “leg” of the three-legged chair of sustainability is social equity, yet many would argue that in the framework of urban political decision-making it has ranked well behind considerations of economy and environment. Politicians and activists are now catching up to the fact that without attention to issues of the “right to the city” and social equity, progress towards environmental sustainability will stall or fail. In this session we will:

·         Explore the what and why of global cities that have or are introducing “just city” or “right to the city” plans, including Mexico City and New York City;

·         Consider top-down case studies of socially equitable planning, such as Medellin, Colombia;

·         Examine ground-up examples of urban social movements such as exist around existing or proposed public spaces in Berlin (Templehofer Feld) and Washington, DC (11th Street Bridge Park).


Line Ramestad

Gyaw Gyaw – Sustainable architecture, local development and democracy in practice.

Line Ramstad

Gyaw Gyaw was established in 2009 and the staff have since become respected by their fellow and neighboring villagers along the Thai-Burma border, both as designers and construction workers. With a locally adjusted focus on sustainable architecture, climate, landscape and cultural adapted designs and an inclusive process towards the projects’ realisation as the main goal, they have built schools, dormitories, toilets and other community buildings for and with local communities.  

They strongly emphasise the running their organisation in a democratic manner by putting focus on equality, human and workers’ rights, and group decision-making in an effort to be an example of what democracy in practice can be.



Tuesday 10 October


coffee and fruit available in room


Tore Edvard Bergaust, welcome words from the Head of School of Landscape Architecture

Deni Ruggeri on the Landscape Education for Democracy programme

Karsten Jørgensen on the prospective new Master in Landscape Architecture on Design for Global Landscape Challenges (working title).

Shelley Egoz, on the Centre for Landscape Democracy and the interface between landscape and migration




Randy Hester: Measuring Injustice, Designing Justice



Victoria Keichel:The Just City: Social Equity Issues and Urban Sustainability



Lunch room TBA



Line Ramstad: Sustainable architecture, local development and democracy in practice



Panel discussion



Coffee break



Discussion and conclusions






Published 25. september 2017 - 13:15 - Updated 25. september 2017 - 15:11