Press "Enter" to skip to content

Spaces of power and spaces of gentleness

Today we experienced two kinds of space that are diametrically opposed, or mutually exclusive. The first was the palace and gardens of Versailles, known as the residence of a succession of French kings, of whom Louis XIV and Louis XVI are probably the best known (the latter with his equally well-known queen, Marie-Antoinette, who was beheaded nine years after her husband, in the wake of the French revolution). The second was the house and gardens of Claude Monet, the artist, one of whose paintings gave the Impressionist movement its name.

And what a difference! While Monet’s house and gardens, including the famous Japanese garden, with the Japanese footbridge that Monet painted several times, exuded a sense of peace and tranquillity, the palace at Versailles struck me as the embodiment of what Deleuze and Guattari (in A Thousand Plateaus) call “striated space” — a specific modulation of space according to lines of power that organise, hierarchise, exclude or hem in. In fact, compared to Versailles, Monet’s estate, while certainly not devoid of a subtle kind of striation, or the kind of gentle power that is peculiar to some kinds of art, including impressionism, struck one almost as an exemplary instance of “smooth space”, where the freedom of nomadic exploration breathes a welcoming aroma.

Not even in the most ornate Baroque buildings in Europe, or the most flamboyant palaces in China — with their penchant for red and gold — have I ever witnessed such excessive opulence. Small wonder that the impoverished masses of France launched a rebellion that eventually turned into a full-scale revolution in 1789. If they had seen the interior of Versailles palace, they would have rebelled much earlier. Although it had started out as a mere hunting lodge used by Louis VIII, about three hours on horseback from Paris, he eventually turned it into a brick and stone palace, which was enlarged and completely transformed by his son, Louis XIV, who also decided to move the royal court as well as the seat of government to Versailles in 1682. He may not have read Machiavelli’s The Prince, but he certainly knew that you had to keep those who might undermine your power close to you, within view, as it were.

And what power it was! Small wonder that this was the clearest example of an “absolute monarchy” around; Franklin Baumer (in Modern European Thought) goes as far as alluding to the French king of this era as a “mortal god”. Louis XIV was called the “sun king”, and everywhere around this splendidly preserved palace the iconography – in sculpture, painting and metal ornamentation – confirms his megalomaniac self-conception. True, if it had not been for this inflated idea of his own importance, the palace would not have been the repository of as much outstanding art from the 17th and 18th centuries as it is today. Louis XIV died in 1715, and the further embellishment of the palace continued under Louis XV and Louis XVI in the 18th century. The latter and his family had to leave Versailles during the first few days of the revolution in 1789. Although French democracy was arguably born with the advent of the revolution, it was soon followed by “the terror” in the guise of the persecution of everyone suspected of not having the requisite amount of revolutionary fervour, and ironically it did not take too long before the monarchy was reinstated, with King Louis-Philippe opening a museum dedicated to “all the glories of France” in Versailles palace in 1837.

What particularly interests me is the paradigmatic embodiment of political power in everything that makes up this palace and its enormous gardens and parks. I have already mentioned the notion of “striated space” — space qualitatively marked by the imprint of power — here, “absolute” power, which is imprinted in the many sculptures of the “sun-king” on his horse, or posing in regal paraphernalia in many paintings, usually dressed predominantly in red (the colour of royalty; even their shoes were colour-coded: red for royalty, blue for nobility, etc). Interestingly, the presence of thousands of visitors streaming through the palace on a daily basis with their cameras and mobile phones represents the incursion of “smooth space” into what used to be the striated space of monarchical rule, and what has today become the striated space of (here, French, but ultimately international) capital — no one gets to enter the palace grounds without paying a hefty entrance fee. Sure, it is needed to maintain the place in pristine condition, but it is also aimed at turning a handsome profit.

Ranciere gives one another, complementary perspective on Versailles with his evocative phrase, “the distribution of the sensible”, which is the manner in which the extant world is organised, arranged, and ordered according to what is visible, audible, admissible and sayable. In every era this “distribution” changes according to the parcelling out of social spaces by the dominant powers of the time. In the 17th and 18th centuries this meant a hierarchy of classes from royalty through nobility and the bourgeoisie down to the fourth estate, or proletariat, whose absence from this elevated space is conspicuous in that they are not represented anywhere in the artworks surrounding one. In other words, they were pretty much invisible, AND inaudible, until they made themselves heard in the clamour of the revolution, which was a disruptive manifestation of what Ranciere calls “equality”, the gist of the political. Simply the violence would not cut it; as Ranciere reminds one, the assertion of the equality, in principle, must be accompanied by the logos, or the assertion of the ability to speak, no less than those in power.

Compared to Versailles, the home of Monet is gentleness incarnate; here the “distribution of the sensible” operates according to inclusion, not exclusion. What Ranciere labels the art of the “aesthetic regime” is conspicuous here, in contrast to the hierarchical art of the “representative regime” at Versailles. Accordingly, Monet’s paintings, replicas of which are everywhere in the house, are of flowers, trees, mountains, ordinary people; that is, objects of interest selected from the endless spectrum of what offers itself to artists, and not as dictated by conventional rules — as it was the case in Monet’s day by the French Academy of the Arts, from which artists like Monet broke away. His love of Japanese prints, which adorn many of the walls in his house, reflects his openness to the world around him.

Monet’s house and everything it contains, together with his gardens, reflective of the “aesthetic regime”, therefore instantiates a model for true democracy — everything is treated with equal love and gentleness. Versailles, on the other hand, represents a model of what Ranciere calls “the police”, a symbolic constitution of the social according to hierarchies of exclusion. And don’t make any mistake: the French absolute monarchy may be long gone, but in its place we have an equally ruthless, globally extended, dominant power that perhaps deserves the epithet of “absolute” more than Louis XIV did. But as historical events showed, “absolute” was a misnomer. Let’s hope today it is, too.


  • As an undergraduate student, Bert Olivier discovered Philosophy more or less by accident, but has never regretted it. Because Bert knew very little, Philosophy turned out to be right up his alley, as it were, because of Socrates's teaching, that the only thing we know with certainty, is how little we know. Armed with this 'docta ignorantia', Bert set out to teach students the value of questioning, and even found out that one could write cogently about it, which he did during the 1980s and '90s on a variety of subjects, including an opposition to apartheid. In addition to Philosophy, he has been teaching and writing on his other great loves, namely, nature, culture, the arts, architecture and literature. In the face of the many irrational actions on the part of people, and wanting to understand these, later on he branched out into Psychoanalysis and Social Theory as well, and because Philosophy cultivates in one a strong sense of justice, he has more recently been harnessing what little knowledge he has in intellectual opposition to the injustices brought about by the dominant economic system today, to wit, neoliberal capitalism. His motto is taken from Immanuel Kant's work: 'Sapere aude!' ('Dare to think for yourself!') In 2012 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University conferred a Distinguished Professorship on him. Bert is attached to the University of the Free State as Honorary Professor of Philosophy.


  1. Charné Hirst Charné Hirst 26 May 2014

    It is inevitable that a well-crafted space, immersed with power and finesse, will evoke an internal emotional response. Following, are two contrasting examples of spaces that epitomize spaces of power, and spaces of gentleness.

    Striated lines of power organize the palace of Versailles, and the spaces within tell a story of vanity and dictatorship, where the opulent decoration and excessive size of the palace exhibit mans greed and desire. In the case of Monets work, it is the power of freedom and smooth space that allows for picturesque harmony. Having briefly studied Monet’s work as an adolescent, the Japanese bridge within its blooming garden context has remained unscathed in my memory. Even at a young age, I was able to comprehend the peaceful, natural landscape that Monet depicted, reinforcing my idea that nature is the ultimate beauty.

    The smooth space of Monets garden versus the striated space of the palace of Versailles instill contrasting evocations of “the distribution of the sensible”. Through the harmony in Monets work, his impressionist approach gracefully encompasses ordinary people in an extraordinary world, a place if infinite beauty. On the other hand, humans have always had a tendency to organize space, hence the striated space that embodies the palace of Versailles.

    So long as we seek power and control as a global entity, we will never be able to experience smooth spaces and the freedoms that exist within.

  2. T. Kolobe T. Kolobe 26 May 2014

    “Monet’s house and everything it contains, together with his gardens, reflective of the “aesthetic regime”, therefore instantiates a model for true democracy — everything is treated with equal love and gentleness” these explicitly draws a clear picture of space of gentleness. Therefore distribution of senses as in Japanese gardens, places of relaxation and peace of mind.

    ” Versailles, on the other hand, represents a model of what Ranciere calls “the police”, a symbolic constitution of the social according to hierarchies of exclusion” space of power which is fortunately expressed on paintings and ornaments within the building. I think most of us in these era would love to dwell in the space of gentleness than space of power

  3. Jacquiline Modu 212315757 Jacquiline Modu 212315757 28 May 2014

    The article has been insightful in describing the phenomenology or feel of both gardens despite not physically being in the spaces. Both Versailles and Claude Monets gardens have strong intentions each being influenced by the driving force of its time and context.
    Versailles being a “striated space” gives of the stench of dominance and exploitation of power, because such a place embodying such structures and wealth shouldn’t possibly belong to a certain “standard” of people in comparison to what the people that didn’t embody the required “standard” lived in. Where, compared to Monets gardens that give of a “smooth” sense as described, embodies a completely different sensual character, where one can experience life, earth through the spaces and paintings of nature and humanity.
    Though surely one can argue that a striated space is of necessity to indicate power being that it was for the king himself, but how far one can go with the “pompousness” of the spaces is the question to ask.

  4. Matthew Morris Matthew Morris 30 May 2014

    Through reading this article I was able to gain a better understanding of your lecture awhile back on “striated space” and “smooth space”, now being able to envision your two comparisons I can quite easily feel the difference of these two spaces. It is clear that’s both buildings and their surrounding resemble the personalities and character of the people that inhabit them. With the palace and gardens of Versailles having a very grand and decorative spaces that almost feel closed off and unwelcoming to its surrounds. It is purely a sculptured space to portray the magnitude of power in a selfish manor. Whereas the house and gardens of Claude Monet is a space that welcomes you with many of its features, from the peaceful tranquillity of the of the pond, and the less dominant lines flowing throughout the space on a more down to earth human scale. This portraying the fact that one individual does strive to outdo another.

  5. Kimon Maré (212363654) Kimon Maré (212363654) 1 June 2014

    Spaces of power and spaces of gentleness.

    How excessive wealth could be wasted on a building as elaborate as the Palace of Versailles whilst your country struggle to make ends meet, baffles me. All though it has has become one of the most sought after buildings and popular tourist attractions to date. The English garden of Versailles, with it’s geometric layout, unmarried walkways, and extreme maintenance it requires together with the Palace is probably the best display of hierarchical striated space. Grounds not to be entered if one does not posses a highly regarded social status.

    The nomadic feel of smooth space such as Monet’s house and garden sheds a feeling of restfulness and peace, a complete opposing feel given by the Palace of Versailles. Translating the artists’ love for nature and beauty though architecture and landscaping as well as inspiration in his art works.

  6. A. Pilliy ( 212219154) A. Pilliy ( 212219154) 14 October 2014

    I personally believe that architecture should not only be about form follows function but also phenomenology as this is what gives people reason to boast about a building. We may not notice it as humans but when we began to talk about a building it is because we were able to make an emotional connection to the building. So with that said, in this article the phenomenological description of the gardens was well put into perspective as one could almost feel as though they were experiencing the presence of the garden physically.
    Both the gardens of Versailles and Claude Monet’s contain robust intentions and each being influenced a driving force of its time/era and context. Whilst Versailles represents a model of what Ranciere calls “the police”, basically a symbolic constitution of the social based on “hierarchies of exclusion”. However the concept of “spaces of power” taking its place in being represented in the forms of paintings along with ornaments within the building. Basically becoming a garden which is sculptured to portray the essences and magnitude of power in what could be considered a selfish manor.
    On the other hand the house garden of Claude Monet is one that consists of spaces that welcome individuals by many of its features begin with its tranquil pond and less dominant lines flowing throughout the space making use of the human scale allowing its viewers to experience the place at a more earthly scale to humans. Basically allowing all individuals to be put a…

  7. Henco Rust Henco Rust 31 October 2014

    It is definite that these settings differ greatly
    Size, geometry and scale are very domineering in the Palace and Garden of Versailles and place the individual in a position of intimidation. King Louis was a man of status and wanted to make it apparent to the lesser individuals of that time and for ages to come.
    With the economic pressure placed on the individuals at the time, it must have been quite an expensive masterwork to complete. A recession had placed lesser individuals to bankruptcy.
    Claude Monet took proportion into account with regards to human Vitruvian principles with in the House of Gardens, decorating it to a point of harmony. Instead of the overcompensation for size/space as seen in the Palace of gardens, Claude chose a more subtle approach of invitation and balance revolving around the phenomenological character of the spaces and the morphing of one to the other.
    It can then be justified that even though the nature of these spaces differ greatly, they are both superb canvas’ of art speaking to the humans’ soul… power, control and forte versus tranquillity, peace and balance.

  8. S. Matlanyane (S213231832) S. Matlanyane (S213231832) 2 November 2014

    After reading both “Finding Nirvana” and “spaces of power and spaces of gentleness” I realized that even if we swapped their headings around, they would still be relevant. Both the cathedral and the palace at Versailles are symbols of power strongly reinforced by their multiple thresholds from common or public spaces to innermost chambers and holy of holies where access is limited. Not only are these spaces striated due to their functional needs, but they are also a direct reflection of the secretive and authoritative organizational structure of the bodies they house regardless of being religious or secular.

    On the contrary, it sounds like you can find Nirvana in Monet’s garden with everything treated with equal love and gentleness; bring you to a tranquil state which in turn enables emancipation of the mind, body and soul. South Africa’s freedom park is one of such a place with a strong essence of a smooth space in both symbolic terms and built architectural form. The park is a symbolic resting place of all fallen freedom fighters regardless of race and battle, realised with the aim of reconciliation. All symbolic meanings of the park are universal to South African’s indigenous believe systems. In addition the Voortrekker monument and the union buildings are part of the dialogue and experience of the Freedom Park, collectively taking part in the healing process.

    This I would then say is a step in the right direction towards secular and religious spaces of gentleness.

  9. Liza Joubert (213201496) Liza Joubert (213201496) 2 November 2014

    In this discussion two contrasting, what are today tourist attractions are being compared. One is a space of gentleness, the other a distinct space of power.

    Smooth space is occupied with the haptic rather than the optic; it is a space of continuous variation of freedom, freedom of actions and thought. The house and garden of Claude Monet, a space of gentleness, is an example of above mentioned space, it is a space where visitors can roam freely and explore in a nomadic fashion.

    The opposite, striated space is visible in the grand palace and gardens of Versailles. Where Monet’s garden has an occupation with the haptic, this space is certainly occupied with the optic. The display of ornamentations, sculptures and ornate Architecture is used to force power onto the lower classes.

    It appears that technology is always in the presence of striated space, which results in the consequence of quantities rather than qualities. This being said, it appears that the “measurable” is born from striated space. For King Louis XVI the measure of his power was the optic, earthly things in life.

    In our South African society, striation appears in the grand houses that are being built for important people; this optic measure of space is the human way of creating and forcing power onto others, seeing as a “title” won’t last forever.

    No space is ever in its purest form, even in a striated society, smooth space gently rolls into our homes with our desire for freedom.

  10. Gailyn Scott 213297086 Gailyn Scott 213297086 2 November 2014

    Part 1 of 2

    Since the beginning of mankind, humans have sought to define the spaces in which they live.

    As mentioned, there are two types of spaces, namely: smooth space and striated space, which have been distinguished by Deleuza and Guattari.

    Smooth space is categorised as a space of the nomad, a space of free flowing form which generally resist the political restrictions the city places upon us, such as the House and Gardens of Claude Monet.

    Striated space, on the other hand, can also been seen as the traditional space of architecture, with its direction and defined paths.

    These spaces are rarely existent on their own and thus interact as a conceptual pair with each other. As mentioned, these spaces are create particular moods and experiences, and are created though the different inter-relations of elements, including form, scale, proportion, surface, shape, openings, light, view, and acoustics. These elements are what make up architecture and it is their manipulation that defines these spaces and their particular “distribution of sensible”

  11. Gailyn Scott 213297086 Gailyn Scott 213297086 2 November 2014

    Part 2 of 2

    The Palace of Versailles has been categorized as a strong striated space created for political power and shines a negative light on humanity reflecting its greed. The smooth space of the Monet garden, however, reflects friendliness and a welcoming sense.

    These ‘smooth’ spaces tend to pick up more positive feelings and a feeling of connectivity, however they tend to lack enough order, such as in striated spaces, to exist within an urban city. So instead of our society of today concentrating on the ‘power’ and order of spaces, a balance between smooth and striated spaces needs to start being further developed in order to create a sense of harmony and freedom amongst our busy urban lives of today

  12. Nic McNaught AT223 (213406128) Nic McNaught AT223 (213406128) 2 November 2014

    Nature is defined by climate and as man does we have ordered climate with predictions on weather, but as seen these are mere predictions it cannot be fully ordered or rational therefore climate has a sense of free movement it constantly changes. Vegetation and animal life depends and is guided not controlled by climatic conditions in which there is a freedom, plants do not grow in rows they grow where the seed lands and idea of nomadism in generated a freedom of movement of animal and plant life through this space .This is not created through defined paths between things but the spacing of factors such as water, soil fertility etc which all change, it is impermanent, irregular and unordered. The desert environment is Nature in its purest essence of smooth space, it encourages man to move through the space freely without permanent cues to guide other than the stars and sun, even if a path is created by footsteps it’s then covered by constantly changing sand. Striated space is ordered it is rational, man has interfered and wrangled nature into his control to be obedient and submissive, plants must grow a certain way according to his rules. In modern day these two spaces can be seen in a palace such as Versailles and Monnes house.

  13. Yusuf Gopee (213362937) Yusuf Gopee (213362937) 2 November 2014

    Mount Namsan is indeed a perfect example of smooth space. The Koreans have managed to merge architecture, without any hierarchy really, with nature. This is, I believe, how architecture should be expressed unlike how it is seen at Versailles and Giverny where a more striated space is experienced showing superiority of the different grades and rank of people.
    Nature was here millions of years before the first human made its apparition on Earth. I don’t think that it is of mere coincidence that one experiences spirituality, tranquillity, peace, or whatever one might call it, within nature. This start to make us reflect upon our connection with nature.
    Nowadays, unfortunately, with evolution and technology, we are doing a lot of damage to the environment. We should change our mind-set and start designing more smooth and nature-connected spaces.

  14. T. Kolobe T. Kolobe 2 November 2014

    The picture drawn between the two spaces, enlighten my perception when it comes to architecture analysis and space designing. It concludes that striated spaces are not only hierarchical due to party political forces but design conclusions also lead to spaces of power! Sometimes it could be due to the power of the elites which today reign the society. At the same time, spaces of power could evoke some emotional hierarchy pertain to our base emotion that may contrast with the given. By far striated spaces are born out of lack of connectedness to nature and political climax of power.

    Smooth spaces comprises of intangible phenomena such as feeling. There is a strong integration of our sansory effects towards the environment and the landscape. Man identifies himself within the environment and does not allow technology over powers his vicinity as of today verything in our space is high-tech.

  15. Mohloki Monne Mohloki Monne 3 November 2014

    The comparison between the palace of Versailles and the gardens of Claude Monet clearly shows the character of space in place respectfully relative to man. The influence rising from the occupant’s caliber definitely brings the difference between two buildings in spatial organization and expression. Clear evidence is seen on Palace of Versailles revealing its grandness that embraces itself within its particular environment. The planned modulation of gardening is an exemplary of the ‘striated spaces’ that displays distribution of sensible power, hierarchy, opulence, and accessibility restriction for the locality achieved by hefty entry fees.
    With regard to gardens of Claude Monet, where ‘smooth space’ is experienced through reflective sense of peace, tranquility and reflective of the ‘aesthetic regime’ revealing the existential space, relationship between man and his environment (Christian Norberg Schulz), and freedom of nomadic exploration breathing a welcoming aroma of such a particular place as opposed to the spaces of absolute power.

  16. Hymie Yspeert 213200252 (AT213) Hymie Yspeert 213200252 (AT213) 3 November 2014

    An opposition of spacial types exists between the two discussed examples. The same can be said of their context in time, both hinging on the pivotal time of the french revolution.
    It is interesting note how the respective architecture works compare to the art produced around the same respective eras. The obscene hierarchy of the palace of Versailles and geometrically planned gardens go hand in hand with Neo-classical art movement of the time where the paintings are constructed, composed, organised, dramatic and (much like Louis XIV almost pre-modern obsession with almost holy importance) was widely inspired by allegory, an example of which would be “The Oath of Horatii” painted by Jacques-louis David in 1784. The dramatic triangular composition of the brave sons preparing for battle is framed three commanding arches, while the dramatic urgency of the scene is further exaggerated by a strategic light source. We find almost absolute striation, much like the palace of Versailles.
    Moving forward in time to when Eugene Delacroix painted “Liberty Leading the People” in 1830 which depicts a bare breasted figure of Liberty patriotically leading the people of the revolution admits a scene of smoke, death and chaos. The painting still bares a loose gesture to composition, but bares a more atmospheric sentiment (a sentiment not unlike that of the impressionist painter of Monets era which was soon to follow).

  17. Hymie Yspeert 213200252 (AT213) Hymie Yspeert 213200252 (AT213) 3 November 2014

    (part 2)

    Much like the chaotic battle depicted in the painting, there is exists a battle between the smooth and striated.
    Move now to the time on Monet and the impressionists, and we see, much like Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, depictions of the smooth which are now free of the political motivations of the Neo-classicists.

  18. Sarah Sarah 3 November 2014

    The most is the most wonderful and powerful aspect of a being. The ways in which we perceive what we see and how we interpret it emotionally is quite phenomenal.

    Walking through the gates of Versailles created an overwhelming feeling. The intricate detail detail embodied in the walls and ceilings only added to the hierarchial sense and importance of the different thresholds, thus creating organised, striated space.
    This striated space reminded me of villa’s in Tuscany. The more you pay, the higher your villa on the mountain, the further one has to walk to get there, But the higher you are situated on the mountain the better the view from the villa’s verandah.

    The spaces of the palace may imply dictatorship, where the exquisite detail and massive size exhibit mans greed, yet also emphasize the rewards for hard work and extreme effort of some kind. (Walking to the to the top of the mountain in Tuscany to reach your villa should reep a greater reward than to those who climb a couple stairs, hence the better view the higher you go.) Indicating some sense of hierarchy just from climbing the steps to the villa.

    These villa’s have many thresholds which are created by verandahs, courtyards and geometrical symmetries.

    The smooth space of Monet’s house and everything it contains, together with his garden instills a feeling of comfort, tranquility and natural beauty of nature itself.

  19. Striation is necessary in the building spaces for order and creating a feeling of direction within spaces not leaving one feeling anxious or lost.

    Including smooth tranquility within nature/ ones garden could create the perfect balance as one can feel peaceful and almost “lost” as they carelessly roam through the natural beauty itself.

    Crating the perfect balance between smooth and striated space in Architecture which be the ideal the solution.

  20. Daniel kiwanuka(210024143 Daniel kiwanuka(210024143 3 November 2014

    reading this article has helped me gain an understanding of the complete difference between striated spaces and smooth spaces.
    Monet’s house together with the japanese garden is a true representation of “smooth Space” which serves to include and not exclude, reflected in his paintings of ordinary people and nature alludes to true democracy of the era. A space with freedom of nomadic exploration and nature incorporated all through the building through paintings and japanese garden is a standard reflection of SPACE OF GENTLENESS.
    On the other hand Versailles palace and large parks qualitatively represent “striated space” laid out in heirarchical manner according to lines of power with disregard of the the ordinary man of the 17th and 18th centuries. Everything about the palace including the paintings present the importance and power of a few people, a true reflection of dictatorship hence the SPACE OF POWER

  21. Ayapha Njoli # Ayapha Njoli # 3 November 2014

    In the comparison between the garden of Cluade Monet and the palace of Versailles i now see a clear play on the differences in the phenomenological characters of spaces.Where creation of space and place depending on its nomadicity or sedentarity will have an impact on how we relate or experience the space or place.

    Monet’s garden is amorphous but but is an examplary instance of a smooth space,even though smoth in this instance does not mean homogenous,but homogeniety is found in its subtle kind of straition.

    Where the palace of Vercailles is heavily straited and ornate,and its verticallity and hierarchical art that gives a sense of hierarchy by exclusion.A play on the role of monarchy by a space or place of power.

  22. Arno Struwig (ATT223) 213249618 Arno Struwig (ATT223) 213249618 3 November 2014

    There is a clear distinction between striated spaces and smooth spaces. Even though in what use to be striated space in monarchical rule, where for example the king was seen as “absolute power”, and what we classify today as striated space of capital, where for example you still have to pay a fee in order to be able to see the palace grounds. Both past and present fall under a hierarchy, regardless of the past being that of monarchical rule and the present being of capital, there is still a difference between levels where there is a distinctive higher power. These spaces are a distinct representation of spaces of power.

    Not one space can be fully smooth or striated. It is always a mixture of the two with a prevailing one.

    With regards to Monte’s house, everything is treated with equal importance which emphasizes smooth space, where there is no difference between spaces. The smooth space is the prevailing space regarding Monte’s house.
    If a space gives you a nomadic feeling, it is a sign of smooth space. This space in contrast to distinct spaces of power represents a space of gentleness.

  23. Ayapha Njoli # Ayapha Njoli # 3 November 2014

    In the comparison between the garden of Cluade Monet and the palace of Versailles i now see a clear play on the differences in the phenomenological characters of spaces.Where creation of space and place depending on its nomadicity or sedentarity will have an impact on how we relate or experience the space or place.

    Monet’s garden is amorphous but is an examplary instance of a “smooth space”,even though smooth in this instance does not mean homogenous,but homogeniety is found in its subtle kind of straition.Highlighting an intrinsic relation between humans and nature.

    Where the palace of Vercailles is heavily straited and ornate,and its verticallity and hierarchical art that gives a sense of hierarchy by exclusion.A play on the role of monarchy by a space or place of power.

  24. Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) 5 November 2014

    Part 1

    Striated space tends to never be “human” space (space where one can feel at home). Most often these spaces make us feel inferior especially when you do not belong to the select few who’s whole existence is why that space is there in the first place. Although Versailles is no longer used to house the monarchical rulers of France, and at the same time reflect their ruling power, it still has a sense of power now in this day. Not just any man off the street may enter through the towering and flamboyant gates that guard the palace from “unwanted” entrants; if you cannot afford it then expect to spend your day on the wrong side of the gates wondering what exactly is the big deal about Versailles.

    Although not as extreme as what it was during its use as a working palace, Versailles has once again managed to indirectly sort people into various classes, with “rich” and “poor” being the obvious difference. The palace does this through its grand and excessive architecture and gardens, which as Bert says, obviously requires financial support for maintenance, but nevertheless one can never expect to pay next to nothing to enter such grand buildings of the Versailles kind.

  25. Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) 5 November 2014

    Part 2

    Another example where this aura of striated space has remained in today’s time, through from when it was first purposefully made to have an empowering sense to it, is the main “Embizweni” building on the south campus of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. It exudes a sense of hierarchy through its tiered appearance, the top tier housing the dean’s office (the “ruler’s” quarters).

    The building was erected during the apartheid era in South Africa back when the university was called the University of Port Elizabeth, and its purpose was almost exactly that of Versailles’, to show a governing and ruling over those below it. Even to this day, one cannot expect to freely catch the elevator to the top floor whenever they feel like doing so. There is still the sense that only a select few may go to the top even though the apartheid regime has ended.

    The building’s architecture definitely isn’t as ostentatious as Versailles’, rather it is of a brutalist nature, but through this harsh and tiered manner in which it has been represented it is definitely a manifestation of power, even today.

  26. Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) Lisa Hayden AT223 (s213230070) 5 November 2014

    Part 3

    To conclude, one can change the purpose of a place (as in the case with Versailles), or its name (UPE to NMMU), but the architecture will remain the same and consequently its original character and purpose will continue to be reflected. Therefore through architecture, a striated space will always remain as is, no matter how “free” or “smooth” its current surroundings are, as in the case of a democratic modern France and South Africa.

  27. Daniel Bolton 212262815 Daniel Bolton 212262815 5 November 2014

    These two spaces remind me of two spaces that I have often encountered. One is the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s campus, the other, the beach. The NMMU Campus has a clear sense of striated space, specifically depicted in the Embizweni building, whose occupants are staff members and people of “higher importance” according to the university. It has a high emphasis on verticality, as well as horizontal lines that show its different levels from the ground floor to the upper levels. This building towers over the rest of the campus and there is a clear level of hierarchy shown here. A walkway through the ground floor which allows students to pass through is a way to introduce smooth space into this building. Besides that, there is not much reason for a student of the university, or anyone besides persons of importance, to venture upwards in this building. I feel that if I had to travel to these higher levels, I would immediately be questioned on my intentions. My experience of a greater influence of smooth space is the beach. Here there is not much hierarchy, except maybe life guards at specific points, but besides that, everyone is on an equal basis. You could occupy the same space as someone who is in a position of power and it would not matter here. Everyone and everything is mixed together and has the opportunity to interact. The beach is peaceful and welcoming.

Leave a Reply