Thinking without Vitruvius? Diagrams as Design Tools for Garden Architecture in the Northern Renaissance

As it is generally understood the design process of gardens and garden architectures in the Northern Renaissance relies on ground plans, elevations, profiles and perspectives. But considering the complexity of gardens and their architectures I am interested just how these structures could have been developed in the designing process.

Hans Vredeman de Vries: the garden in style and manner of the dorica. Image or diagram of an ideal garden, Hortorum viridariorumque 1583.

Fig. 1 Hans Vredeman de Vries: the garden in style and manner of the dorica. Image or diagram of an ideal garden, Hortorum viridariorumque […] 1583. 

 

 

 

 

In that context it appears that design drawings show diagrammatic structures. These diagrams seem to have been a helpful tool to design and communicate complex structures: On the one hand diagrams are useful in order to reduce the complexity of spatial phenomena during the design process; on the other hand they transform the individual design into a multifunctional design system which can be applied to various other designs.

Of course, a diagram is a tool to reduce complexity into a system of images and text. And, of course diagrams are not architectural drawings itself, but we could think about the drawings to reveal new knowledge about their function and usage as I try to discuss in my forthcoming PhD Thesis (2013) about Northern Renaissance architectural drawings.

In order to show that I will e.g. focus on recently discovered plans for garden labyrinths. Furthermore, I will reveal their connection to the first printed theory of gardens in the so-called Garten-Ordnung from Johann Peschel (1597). As a second example I will treat a 16th century drawing for a summer house by Friedrich Sustris. I will illustrate how we can gain more information about the design process by viewing it not as a ground plan, but rather as a diagram.

Johann Peschel: the diagram of the garden from doctor Caspar Ratzenberger in Naumburg. Reducing complexity of spacial phenomena, Garten-Ordnung 1597.

Fig. 2 Johann Peschel: the diagram of the garden from doctor Caspar Ratzenberger in Naumburg. Reducing complexity of spatial phenomena, Garten-Ordnung 1597. 

 

Overall, I intend to reveal how understanding drawings as diagrams can enhance our comprehension of the communicatory aspect of drawings and the distribution of innovative gardens and their architectures in the 16th century. I would argue that the diagram as a flexible designing method is even more appropriate in understanding the design process in drawings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[This article based up on ideas of my forthcoming PhD Thesis and a paper held on the Masterclass of the colloquium „Designing Architecture in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Drawing as Motor & Medium for Architectural Innovation“, Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW), Amsterdam, 5th May 2013]

Credits

Fig. 1: Hans Vredeman de Vries: Hortorum viridariorumque […], Antwerpen 1583.

Fig. 2: Johann Peschel: Garten-Ordnung […], Leipzig 1597.

 

 


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