Arquitectura palimpsest (Versalles l'any 1701)
ColaboratorGinovart, Josep Lluis; Lahuerta, Jordi; Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament de Composició Arquitectònica
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
The thesis investigates the ideological and historical sense of an architecture based on change. Louis XIVs Palace of Versailles provides the thematic framework and serves as the object of investigation. The time frame is centred on the summer of 1701 , which is when the King's Bedchamber is last moved. The Chateau is placed on an east-west axis, giving order to the castle as well as the city and the gardens. The East-West axis is also the solar axis, marking the order of the days. The centrality of the chamber symbolizes the process of centralization characteristic of the advent of the modern state, which Versailles marks the beginning of. The king begins refurbishment on his father's (Louis XIII) castle in 1661 . This means that for 40 years the suceessive king's bedchambers (six in total), have been moved around in search of the proper location. In a way, the new centrality and the interpretations of order and rationality that arise from it form a kind of palimpsest over the original sense of a Versailles as pure transformation. Based on the study of the ancient descriptions of the castle and floor plans of the period, the thesis seeks to make sense of the true ideological and cultural context of a palace initiated in full baroque period France, with a still itinerant king and court (Louvre, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, Vincennes, etc.) and which culminates in the emplacement of the king's bedchamber as the centre of the world and symbol of a new rational and centralised state. Much has been said about the order of Versailles , but very little has been said about the disorder. In order to do so one must determine the twists of chance surrounding the displacements of the king's bedchamber, study the official discourse lhrough the descriptions of Versailles by the Ancien Régime and from the administrative documents of the period (the États de la France) which enable us to understand how the royal household worked and was organised. We shall focus above all on Jean-François Félibien's description from 1703: Description sommaire de Versailles, ancien et nouvelle. Apart from being the first book to describe the new king's bedchamber, Jean-Françoisis Félibien composes a strange text consisting of new text blended together with fragments from the description which his father. Thus, that which is intended as a guide becomes a time labyrinth with the reader/visitor wandering through an impossible palace, arising from the blending of two very different Versailles . The thesis is organised in three parts . We begin with the Duke of La Rochefoucauld. As the neighbour below the king's bedchamber he is one of the people most affected by the construction of the final bedchamber. Through his rise within the court, we analyse the meaning of the court and the way it works in relation to the distinct forms that the palace takes on. The second and most descriptive part shows the context of change. The Félibien books, the meaning of the solar axis, the elements used in construction, and also the problem of lodging in Versailles (15,000 people). We discover two great movements: the axis of penetration and transparency and an enormous avenue over half a kilometre long at the first level, veritable public place open to all. The third section proposes a reading of the disorde through an analysis of the official texts describing Versailles in three registers (castle (the place); the États de la France (the users); the feasts (the activities). The discursive disorders the three registers have in common are arranged in parallel to the spatial order of the Versailles of representation (excess, abundance, and chaos). The thesis opens up a long reflection on the disposition of the enfilade; understood here as antiperspective and the definitive crisis of the space of humanism.
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