Recently there has been a new awareness among garden historians of the importance of
movement in shaping the experience of a garden. Indeed, the garden exists for its visitors only
inasmuch as its spaces have been discovered, sensed, “lived”. The garden is the garden
explored. Promenade – a leisurely walk with no other end than itself – is thus a privileged
activity to study spatial experience.
Despite historians’ awareness of an itinerary through the gardens devised by Louis XIV
himself, Versailles has hardly been studied as a place for promenade. Only recently have there
been studies on the implication of written itineraries on the social reception of the
domineering message of the gardens.
Through the changes or continuity in specific sensory experiences that occur as we
move, the garden offers the possibility for heightened experiences of ‘here’ – views, objects,
spaces seen on axis – and ‘there’ – distant views and objects that appear reachable. But more
subtly, the garden can accompany the transition from the fulfillment of being ‘here’ to the
desire of going ‘there’ and thus enrich 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.
The richness of this dialogue in Versailles comes from the complexity of the choices offered
to the promeneur, allowing one to build through time a meaningful aesthetic experience of the
- Title Original : “LE PROMENEUR DANS LE JARDIN” : Analyse expérimentale des Jardins de Versailles
- Project start : 0000
- Project end : 0000
- Contact Person : Catherine SZÁNTÓ
- Funding Agency : [École d’architecture de Paris-La Villette and Paris-VIII University, Ecole Doctorale « Ville et Environnement »]
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