Expanding Danish welfare landscapes: Steen Eiler Rasmussen and Tingbjerg housing estate

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

In 1950, the well-known Danish architect and urban planner Steen Eiler Rasmussen (1898–1990) was appointed principal architect on the development of Tingbjerg, a large new housing estate set in a picturesque natural environment on the northwestern fringe of Copenhagen. In this chapter, we focus on the planning logics behind the Tingbjerg estate’s green open spaces - a meticulously thought-through structure that sought to ensure the well-being, the welfare, (trivsel) of all who lived there. In this chapter, we discuss how, why and in what way the Danish understanding of “welfare” – as a societal model providing access to “the good life” for all citizens – can be said to have been expanded through the housing landscape of Tingbjerg. Despite the good intentions, however, today the estate regularly appears in Danish news media due to gang violence and other social problems marking the area. Tingbjerg has therefore recently been selected for a vast new development plan which, as we argue, has spun the estate into a neoliberal logic which fundamentally changes the way the very idea of welfare applies to the estate. Tracing the history of the concept of welfare in the Danish context, we first revisit Rasmussen’s classic 1954 publication, Experiencing Architecture, and, as we find, illuminates and challenges some of the fraught dichotomies –freedom/control, individual/community, architectural ideals/daily life – that have haunted and still haunt Tingbjerg, and which provide a surprisingly topical backdrop for Rasmussen’s later defense and self-critical recognition of the issues facing the Tingbjerg estate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscapes of Housing : Design and Planning in the History of Environmental Thought
EditorsJeanne Haffner
Number of pages22
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date1 Jan 2022
ISBN (Print)9781138504394, 9781138504400
ISBN (Electronic)9781315145983
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

ID: 286414009