Sanda Lenzholzer appointed as Professor Landscape Architecture

Published on
February 10, 2020

The executive board of Wageningen University & Research has appointed Sanda Lenzholzer as Professor and Chair Landscape Architecture. She succeeds prof. Adri van den Brink who has retired. Her new position started as per 1 February 2020.

Prof. dr. Lenzholzer formerly was an Associate professor at the Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning group, part of the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) of Wageningen University & Research. She is also Principal investigator Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Amsterdam (AMS).

Sanda Lenzholzer (Bensberg, Germany, 1967) had always felt a fascination for cities and landscapes, their processes, people and aesthetics. Hence she decided to study landscape architecture at the Leibniz University Hannover and graduated as a ‘Diplom Ingenieur’ in 1996. During this study she discovered her interest in design and especially in designing together with architects. Shortly after, she acquired a competitive grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to follow another Master programme: ‘Housing and Urbanism’ at the prestigious Architectural Association School in London. After her graduation there as a ‘Master of Arts’ in 1998, she decided to go into design practice and apply her distinctive expertise on the interface of urban design and landscape architecture in the ‘real world’.

She worked in Dutch and German design offices ranging from architecture and urban design practices to classical landscape architecture offices (e.g. Mecanoo, Sant en Co, ST Freiraum). Parallel with her practical work, she started teaching in a German landscape architecture programme as a part time lecturer. There she discovered her didactic talent and her passion for research. Eventually, this proclivity for research motivated her to accept a position at Wageningen University & Research in 2004, where she combined teaching and working on a PhD research.

Improving the urban climate

She chose to focus her PhD research on a topic that was hardly addressed in Dutch academia at that time: urban climate and how to change the design of cities to improve the urban climate. In the past years the topic has gained much more attention and Sanda Lenzholzer has been very actively involved in the scientific and the societal debate on this matter. She has published widely in refereed academic journals and her book on urban climate adaptation is acclaimed internationally.
Within her current research she integrates urban climate science with urban planning and design practice and focuses on how to bridge the ‘implementation gap’ in urban climate adaptation. She also bridges the gap between science and practice by advising design offices, municipalities and provinces. Furthermore, she has developed methodological theory on ‘Research Through Design’ on the crucial role of design in research processes to develop new solutions in landscape architecture and urban design. Through combining expertise on urban climate adaptation and ‘Research Through Design’ she was very successful in project acquisition and she is a frequently invited guest to give (keynote) lectures, workshops and master classes in many countries.

Solving urban and rural challenges

Her own future research will focus on pressing new challenges that will occur in cities: urban climate improvement, energy transition, water management, circular material flows, electrical and autonomous mobility as well as digitization. Meeting these challenges will require massive spatial interventions, and to prevent our cities being construction sites far and wide for decades they need to be solved shortly and in an integrated way. Together with her colleagues within the Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning group she will also develop solutions on the challenges in the countryside as circular agriculture, climate adaptation and energy transition have to be designed integrally as well. Multi- and transdisciplinary ‘Research Through Design’ will be their key method to create urban and rural solutions that enhance each other and contribute to more beautiful and liveable environments.