Aarhus Universitets segl


The aim of this project is to show how a water culture developed throughout the 20th century. Among other this, this culture has led us to take for granted that we need 2-300 liters of water every day in order to lead a normal life. The project suggests that this culture is composed of a series of “hydro regimes”. It examines two such regimes that have been central in shaping the modern cities’ relation to water, the “liberal regime” and the “welfare/wealth regime”, covering the decades around the turn of the 20th century and the Second World War respectively.

We examine these regimes by looking at the interplay between different technologies, including “micro technologies” (such as the toilet, the bathtub, the washing machine, and swimming pools). We also consider the practices involving water usage in private and in public (such as bathing, washing, irrigation, etc.), and we explore the contemporary norms and perceptions in which water became a central element (such as cleanliness, hygiene, and health). Furthermore, the project argues for the hypothesis that the water culture, throughout its several hydro regimes, has affected local citizenship and social distinction – a relation we call material politics. 

The project is funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark.


Creating the Creativ Urban Waterfront in Scandinavia: Harbour Areas from Industrial Multitude to Planned Creative Spaces

For decades now, the waterfront areas of industrial harbour cities of Europe have been among the prime spots for large-scale redevelopment. The classic freight harbour gives way to the mechanised container terminal, and the remaining spaces are redeveloped, very often with a clear reference to cre- ative users and inhabitants. The overall questions of this chapter are how these urban spaces become creative and how their creativity changes across the phase of deindustrialisation. How is the multitude of the industrial har- bour giving way to an intended or planned creative space? Conceptualising this as a process of de- and eterritorialization, the harbour is approached as an assemblage with components ranging from global discourses over national urban systems to working culture and local material structures. The primary case will be the harbour of Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city.

Urban Nutrient Emissions in Denmark in the Year 1900

Pre-industrial emission levels can serve as a basis to set emission requirements in current conditions to approximate natural circulation of resources and protect the environment. In Denmark, the year 1900 has been set as a reference for water regulation purposes. Reliable measurements from this time are not available. To define reference conditions, we estimate point source emissions of nutrients from Danish towns in 1900 based on historic documentation and current quantitative data. The flow of nutrients emitted by humans and animals and in industrial wastewater is quantified based on the assessment of typical discharge routes in a set of model towns. We find that point source emissions were significant, with 4261 t nitrogen and 764 t phosphorous emitted from towns in 1900. The main source were human excrements (61%), followed by excrements of animals held in towns (32%) and industry (6%). 59% of nutrients was discharged directly to water, 22% were used as fertilizer on agricultural soil and 19% was emitted to soil via landfills and spills. Current point source emissions of nutrients to water (6,600 tN/yr) are significantly higher than our results, revealing a need for radical reductions if historic emission levels should not be exceeded in the future.  

Urban Metabolism on the fringes of Europe

Stoftskifte under tryk: Vandets infrastruktur og rum i København

Artiklen kortlægger gennem en række skalaskift, hvordan Københavns bystyre fra slutningen af 1800-tallet gik ind i en accelererende opbygning af infrastrukturer til at forsyne borgerne med vand. Det dobbelte pres fra urbaniseringen og den ny hygiejniske kultur skabte en ekspansion, som artiklen undersøger, først gennem nogle nedslag i det fremvoksende lag af kommunale teknologisk specialiserede embedsmænd. Gennem deres viden mobiliseres byens undergrund som vandforsynende lag, hvilket er artiklens næste fokus, og fra dette reservoir trækkes forsyningen gennem et netværk under hydraulisk tryk for at nå brugerne gennem såkaldte mikroteknologier, altså grænsefladen mellem hverdagspraksis og netværk, artiklens tredje skala. Herfra zoomes der yderligere ned til den ’faktiske’ mikroskopiske skala, hvor den nye mikrobiologi gør byens vand til genstand for utrættelige studier. Afslutningsvis diskuterer artiklen, hvordan vandets infrastruktur således kan ses som et urbant stofskifte, der på de ovennævnte skalaer er eksempel på en moderne materiel politik.  


Governing Urban Natures: Infrastructure, Citizenship and Municipal Ecologies

This collaborative conference at Aarhus University, Faculty of Arts, brings together a diverse group of scholars from across multiple disciplines to interrogate the past, present, and future of urban natures, focusing especially on the material politics of urban citizenship, infrastructural relations and service provision, and the formation and transformation of cities in the broadest terms. Among a number of other themes, confirmed presenters will interrogate i) the flows of water, energy, elements, and affect that bind the city to its hinterlands; ii) the complex intersection and co-constitution of human and more-than-human urban spatial forms; and iii) the nature of “the municipal” as both an empirical and analytical category in relation to questions of environmental crisis and governance. Taking place over two days in the picturesque Danish city of Aarhus, the conference welcomes attendance from anyone with an interest in the politics, governance, and everyday experience of urban environments around the globe. 

For more information click here.