AMP > Publications > Experiential Analysis of Versailles (...)
Année : 2010
Auteur :
Szanto, Catherine

Experiential Analysis of Versailles : A Methodology to Teach Spatial Thinking

SZANTO Catherine, « Experiential Analysis of Versailles : A Methodology to Teach Spatial Thinking », in Ahmet C. Yildizci, ed., ECLAS 2010 Conference Proceedings, Istamboul, Turquie, 2010, pp. 937-948.

Landscape architects are designers of space. But while « space » as a global concept is omnipresent in the discourse on landscape architecture, few analytical tools exists to describe in a more detailed manner our perception of space and its importance in our appreciation of designed spaces.. In the present paper, I will look at „designed space” such as a garden, not as a backdrop for our perception of spatial objects, but as a spatial object of its own kind, whose experience can be described following a phenomenological framework based on the work of Husserl, Straus and Merleau-Ponty. For Straus in particular, our ability to move defines the structures of the spatio-temporal modes of „here” and „there”. Through the changes or continuity in specific sensory experiences that occur as we move through space, combined with distant views and memory of what we have already seen, we experience the garden as a succession of units combined into structured wholes. The garden invites motion through its spatial form, by offering the possibility for heightened experiences of ‘here’ – views, objects, spaces seen on axis - and ‘there’ – views and objects in a distance, that we feel we can reach. But more subtly, the garden can accompany the transition from the fulfilment of being ‘here’ to the desire of going ‘there’ and enrich through such transitions our motion itself. Space is here conceived not as a backdrop that we see as we move, but as an invitation to motion, as a spatial dialogue taking the shape of a promenade. By combining 17th century descriptions of promenades in the garden and a phenomenological description of spatial experience outlined above, I propose a graphical analysis of Louis XIV’s walk in the gardens that highlights the richness of the spatial experience that the garden proposes. Presented along a timeline like a musical score, the analysis juxtaposes the many sensory and perceptual elements that combine together through time to give the visitor a a meaningful aesthetic experience of the garden. The methodology developped for this study highlights the spatiality of the experience of the garden of Versailles. It offers tools to analyse spatial experience that can be useful for the study of all kinds of designed spaces. These tools can be used by students to analyse existing spaces. They help enhance their spatial awareness and sensitivity, which they can then exercise in their own designs.