Dr Jan Woudstra

PhD, MA (Cons), Dip Hort (Kew)

Department of Landscape Architecture

Reader in Landscape History and Theory

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+44 114 222 0609

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Dr Jan Woudstra
Department of Landscape Architecture
Floor 12
Arts Tower
Western Bank
S10 2TN

My research activity has been guided by a general concern for the quality of the built environment. It has aimed to increase knowledge within the landscape profession and to challenge perceived notions about landscape design and research.

This has included turning practical issues, which unlike theoretical discourse were not previously considered as a suitable academic subject, into internationally recognized scholarship. For example, research in the history of planting design has been pioneering and it informs and challenges notions of innovation. Yet there has also been research into theoretical issues, in order to encourage different approaches and attitudes in the profession.

Following my training in landscape design, horticulture and conservation at Frederiksoord, the Netherlands, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and at the University of York, I worked as a landscape architect and historian.

Initially in landscape consultancy, I was employed with Travers Morgan in London, contributing to some of the largest conservation schemes of the time, including the restoration of Chiswick House Grounds and the reconstruction of the Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace that was completed with his own practice EDA Environmental Design Associates in 1995.

I simultaneously studied at the Department of Geography of University College London, completing my PhD entitled `Landscape for Living, Landscape theory and design of the Modern Movement´ in 1997.

From 1988 I've taught on a part-time basis at the course `Conservation of Historic Parks and Gardens´, later re-named as `Landscape Conservation and Change´, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and have been employed at the University of Sheffield since 1995, where I teach landscape architecture and history. I was Honorary Editor of Garden History from 1998 to 2005.

Research interests

History and theory of the modern movement in landscape architecture

One of Jan´s main interests, which was also the subject of his PhD, is the exploration of international design trends during the twentieth century in order to achieve a fuller understanding of contemporary philosophy and the processes of design.

This is done via the work of individual designers and selected design projects. Research projects include the analysis of designed landscapes, exploring such landscape architects as Leberecht Migge, Heinrich Friedrich Wiepking-Jürgensmann, Hermann Mattern, Wim Boer, Jan Bijhouwer, Mien Ruys, Christopher Tunnard and Peter Shepheard.

Some of this work is undertaken in association with Professor Peter Blundell Jones, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield and concentrates specifically on domestic scale schemes on which both modernist landscape architects and architects have contributed.

Critical reviews of past housing landscapes have been undertaken and include the work of Peter Shepheard and of Span/ Eric Lyons.

Large scale comparisons of international trends; the issue of memory

With a considerable understanding of modernist fashions it is possible to put current trends in context. Jan´s perspective with reference to landscape architecture is with respect to `working with the existing´, as opposed to providing fashionable `new carpet´ approaches that treat any site as a blank sheet, thereby lacking references and thus meaning. His subject area reflects both conservation issues and new design, at various levels and scales.

This is important as it embraces not only issues of memory and authenticity, but also sustainability, ecological diversity and social equitability. Research in this field aims to make a profound impact on the landscape profession by influencing both theory and practice and has included the following:

  • general assessments and analyses of current trends in landscape design; parks, gardens and housing
  • attitudes and approaches to landscape and garden heritage
  • detailed analysis of the work of individual designers within their context; thus far a number of landscape architects have been subjected to critical review: Henry Wise (forthcoming), Daniel Marot, Lewis Kennedy and Robert Marnock, besides the aforementioned modernist designers.

History of hard landscape detailing and planting design

An important aspect in the success of designed landscapes is appropriate landscape detailing, combined with adequate maintenance. Like with anything else fashions evolve, and as they do our perception of appropriate detailing changes and historic methods of maintenance are forgotten.

As a result even historically important `heritage´ landscapes change, and it is this aspect that requires to be guided by a full understanding of the implications of change, which for this reason merits separate study.

Initially Jan´s research in this field was led by conservation work he was undertaking while in private practice and concentrated on detailed analysis of fashions in planting design and hard landscape detailing in order to repair or reconstruct them. Lately research in this field has been directed towards assisting the improvement and refining of archaeological techniques, by working in co-operation with archaeologists.



Edited books

  • Roth C & Woudstra J (Ed.) (2017) A History of Groves. Abingdon: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Woudstra J (2019) DEALING WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN HISTORIC PARKS AND GARDENS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, Historische Gärten und Klimawandel (pp. 337-348). De Gruyter RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2018) Detailing and materials of outdoor space: The Scandinavian example, Reformation without end (pp. 53-68). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2017) Introduction, A History of Groves (pp. 1-12). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2016) Pückler’s britische Inspirationen: England als “unerreichtes Vorbild” In von Velsen N (Ed.), PARKOMANIE Über Gartenlandschaften des Fürsten Pückler (pp. 126-133). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gao L & Woudstra J (2016) Altars in China, Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (pp. 285-291). Springer Netherlands RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2014) Climate change and historic gardens in the United Kingdom In Rohde M & Krellig H (Ed.), Historic Gardens and Climate Change: Recommendations for preservation (pp. 88-91). Leipzig: Edition Leipzig. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2014) 2.2 From Health to Pleasure, Architecture and Movement (pp. 102-111). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2014) From health to pleasure: the landscape of walking In Blundell Jones P & Meagher M (Ed.), Architecture and Movement The Dynamic Experience of Buildings and Landscapes Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2014) ”Much better contrived and built then any other in England”: Stoves and other structures for the cultivation of exotic plants at Hampton Court Palace, 1689-1702 In Lee MG & Helphand KI (Ed.), Technology and the Garden (pp. 79-107). Dumbarton Oaks Pub Service RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gao L & Woudstra J (2014) Altars in China, Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (pp. 1-7). Springer Netherlands RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2010) The Rodas in the Low Countries; on the rise and progress of horticulture and gardening in The Netherlands and Belgium, Marcellino e Giuseppe Roda: Un viaggio nella cultura del giardino e del paesaggio (pp. 93-103). Savigliano: L’Artistica. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2009) A naturalistic backdrop: the predominant paradigm for European modernist sculpture gardens, Urban naturmark I landskapet- en syntes genom landskaparkitektur: festskrift till Clas Florgård (pp. 289-307). Uppsala: SLU Service/Repro. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2007) The rise of formal education for gardeners in Prussia and Great Britain In Krellig H (Ed.), Prussian Gardens in Europe: 300 Years of Garden History (pp. 308-313). Leipzig: Edition Leipzig. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2006) Landscape first and last, Eric Lyons and Span (pp. 34-51). London: RIBA. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2004) The changing nature of ecology: A history of ecological planting (1800–1980), The Dynamic Landscape: Design, Ecology and Management of Naturalistic Urban Planting (pp. 33-80). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J & Woudstra J (1995) The planting of the Privy Garden In Thurley S (Ed.), The King's Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace 1689-1995 (pp. 43-78). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J () Pavilion Gardens, Buxton: An example of a regeneration scheme in the Urban Parks Programme In Jong E, Schmidt E & Sigel B (Ed.), Der Garten- ein Ort des Wandels: Perspektiven für die Denkmalpflege (pp. 239-250). Zürich: Hochschulverlag AG an der ETH. RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Conference proceedings papers

  • Woudstra J (2018) Obstanbau in den königlichen Gärten von Schloss Hampton Court, London (1530-1842). Stefanie Krihning (ed.), Obstgärten, Produktionsstätten, Bedeutungsträger, Kulturdenkmale: Das Brixner ‘Pomarium” im geschichtlichen und gartenbaulichen Kontext/ Frutteti, Luoghi di produzione, ogetti simbolici, monumenti culturali: Il ‘Pomarium” di Bressanone nel contest storico dell’arte dei Giardini, Vol. 8 (pp 154-167). Görlitz, 29 October 2015 - 31 October 2015. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2017) The history and development of groves in English formal gardens (1600–1750) (pp 67-85) View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (1997) Jacobus P. Thijsse's influence on Dutch landscape architecture. NATURE AND IDEOLOGY (pp 155-185) RIS download Bibtex download


  • Woudstra J (2016) Peter Blundell Jones obituary Historian of architecture who saw the human side of modernism. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woudstra J (2013) Edward Fawcett [Obituary]. RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Current research supervision includes the following topics:

  • History and development of Scenic Sites in Korea
  • Garden typologies and urban development in Shanghai (1850- 2010)

Recent research supervision includes:

  • Claudia Leticia Martínez Velarde, ‘Landscape-led approaches for the regeneration of low-income housing: A cross cultural assessment of social and ecological sustainability’, PhD, 2010
  • Lei Gao, ‘Breaking and repairing’: Conflicting values in the historic gardens of China’, PhD, 2010
  • Kairan Li, ‘Landscape improvement and Scenic Sites in pre-modern China: a critical review’, PhD, 2009
  • Sang Jung Yoon, ‘History and conservation of gardens in Korea’, PhD, 2009
  • Vivienne Rose Parrott, ‘Moon, magic and Elysium: A study of the design of Uraniborg, the observatory and home of Tycho Brahe on the island of Hven, Denmark (1576-1597)’, MPhil, 2008
  • Jijun Zhao, ‘Thirty years of landscape design in China (1949-1979): The era of Mao Zedong’, PhD, 2008
  • Hae Joon Jung, ‘Landscape as Heritage: a Critical Assessment of the Value-based Approach for the Use of Protecting Korean Scenic Sites’, PhD, 2015
  • Manoochehr Salahi Moghadam, ‘Cultural Landscapes in Iran: The Past, Present and Future of Binalud, a Rural Mountain Landscape’, PhD, 2014
  • Hossein Donyavi, ‘Agriculture and water management in the Iranian mountains: traditional methods as a basis for a sustainable future’, PhD, 2014
  • Sally O’Halloran, ‘The Serviceable Ghost; the forgotten role of the gardener from 1630 to 1730’, PhD, 2013
Teaching activities

Module co-ordinator for:

  • LSC 118 Histories of Landscape Architecture
  • LSC 304 Site Planning for Housing
  • LSC 330 Site Planning for Sustainable Housing