Canadian Architect


Daniels Faculty Sessions: “Perspective = Landscape? An Epistemic Puzzle Cracked by Design” with Georges Farhat, Daniels Faculty, Toronto

January 28, 2016
230 College Street, Room 103

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
230 College Street, Room 103



Glass model and video of Grand Canal axis construction, Château de Versailles, 2013-2014. Photo ©G. Farhat.

As a means of representation, which at once shapes and reflects a cultural framework, perspective is considered to be foundational to landscape construed as a ‘way of seeing’ in modern times. But, while the digital turn reconfigures notions of scale, sensory experience, and territory, designers and historians may still ask: How did perspective technically inform the built environment? What were its nature and actual agency in landscape design and landscape experience? To address this puzzle one has to paradoxically explore perspective as a non-representational, optical practice and a design technique. In that respect, three different sites of cultural transfer need to be interrelated: the workshop (artifacts and devices), the treatise (geometry and gardening), and the worksite (topography, living material, and land institution). As a result, historical knowledge is integrated with design protocols, thus allowing to reach beyond the limitations of text-based and iconographic methods specific to the humanities. Approach and findings presented in this talk draw from a research project focused on the Grand Canal of Versailles, which was initiated for the Le Nôtre exhibition at the Château de Versailles (Oct. 2013-Feb. 2014) and further developed in the ‘‘Perspective as Practice’’ Working Group at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.


Reconstruction of Grand Canal axis scheme, Versailles. ©G. Farhat, 2013

Daniels Faculty Associate Professor Georges Farhat was trained as an architect and landscape historian. He began his career in France as a designer and academic. His research focuses inter alia on technology and territorial economy in French 16th-18th-century landscape design practices and their transfer to other places and times. His findings have been published in English and French in numerous journals and edited volumes. He is the co-editor of André Le Nôtre in Perspective (Hazan / Yale University Press, 2013) and editor of Fragments d’un paysage culturel. Institutiuons, arts, sciences et techniques (Musée de l’Ile-de-France, 2006). In 2011-2014, he was the co-curator of the exhibition André Le Nôtre en perspectives at the Château de Versailles. His work has received recognition, among others, from Académie d’architecture de Paris, the Foundation for Lansdscape Studies (New York), Bibliothèque René Pechère (Brussels), and the Society of Architectural Historians (Chicago). He is a founding member of Laboratoire de l’école d’architecture de Versailles (Léav) and a Senior Fellow in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, an Institute of Harvard University.



Daniels Sessions aims to explore new and alternative viewpoints on architectural practice and research. The series features speakers who present unconventional perspectives and work from both inside and outside of the discipline. Daniels Sessions aims to provoke thought and generate discussion in a less formal setting.

Visit event's website

Print this page

Related Posts