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Doctoral Defense: Hannes Zander


17 April, 2024, 10.00 – 15.00

Hannes Zander from the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape will defend his doctoral thesis ‘A Landscape Approach. Reading a Geographic Context Through Multiple Dimensions: The Case of the Hexi Corridor Region in China’s Northwestern Gansu Province‘.


10:00 Trial lecture: Landscape Agency and Projective Futures: A Recent History of Landscape and Urbanism

12:00 Defence

Thesis abstract

Long-term processes of socio-environmental transformation have severely degraded entire world regions, leading to pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. In this planetary context, the thesis develops a Landscape Approach as a theoretical framework to systematically read and better understand large-scale geographies. It promotes landscape as a culture of thinking and a mode of working across spatial, temporal, and disciplinary dimensions.
As a case study serves the remote and arid Hexi Corridor in Northwestern China. The region is portrayed through a narrative that spans from its first integration as a strategic territory into imperial China (121 BC) to recent trends concerned with environmental challenges, as well as ambitions of economic growth and development. Ultimately, the Landscape Approach aims to inform new interdisciplinary practices that can find integrated solutions to intervene in specific locations and restore degraded ecosystems at watershed scales, creating conditions that are socially and environmentally more just and sustainable.


Hannes Zander is a landscape architect and researcher. He holds a post-professional MLA degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a BLA from the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil, Switzerland. Prior to joining AHO’s PhD program, he worked as managing director at the research institute Ecological Urbanism Collaboration at Peking University, as a research associate for the Sustainable Exuma project at Harvard University, and has practiced at landscape design firms in the U.S. and Europe. Hannes is co-editor of the books Landscape Approach (2022, Applied Research and Design) and From the South (2019, Universidad del Desarrollo Press). Currently, he works as co-director and head of research at the Integrated Sustainable Development Foundation, based in Zurich.


Professor em. Karl Otto Ellefsen

Adjudication committee

Associate Professor, Jorg Sieweke
Professor, PhD, Bruno De Meulder