Gardens: a symbolic and sacred world
Somewhat irritated by the increasing number of clichés on French formal gardens and by the dogma around their absolutism, Alain-Claude Debombourg strives to prove that they are, in fact, extremely esoteric sites. To do so, he will delve back into the linguistic origins of the word ‘garden’, to identify how and by whom this concept emerged here, and how it became one of the founding principles of territorial development. Then, by taking example from a few symbolic features of which the majority of we ordinary mortals have forgotten the significance, he will draw the audience’s attention to the meaningful symbols, essentially those seen in the cloister gardens that were behind our Western gardens, then in regular gardens and, finally, the finest example – the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. He will propose a study of their outline and of its highly esoteric features and will demonstrate the syncretic coherence of their signification.
Born in Lyon on the 13th of May 1953 and initiated by his grandfather into work in the garden, Alain-Claude Debombourg continued his apprenticeship in Germany, where he discovered the professions of landscape architect. After studying in Belgium, he specialised in historic gardens, through instruction from René Pechère at the American Fine Arts School in Fontainebleau. Prior to setting up his own business as a landscape architect, he worked as a landscaping worker, site manager, then – when he moved to Savoie – as foreman. To his credit: the requalification of the outdoor areas in Avoriaz and the restoration of the Prieuré gardens in Le Bourget du Lac (Arbre d’Or award in 1991). He then worked for twelve years as an adviser for the CAUE du Rhône (architecture, urban planning and environment council), as a lecturer at the ENTPE (National Public Works Engineering School) and as a landscaper in a technical design office in road development. Alain-Claude Debombourg also wrote the essay entitled, ‘Symboles cachés dans les jardins occidentaux. Des origines à Versailles’ (Hidden symbols in Western gardens. From their origins to Versailles’, published in September 2008 by Ivoire-Clair. In 2008, he successfully passed the academic competition to qualify as an ‘Architecte des Bâtiments de France’ (architecture experts in charge of ensuring the coherence and conservation of national built heritage) and currently occupies a position in the Pas-de-Calais region.
Further reading :
Symboles cachés dans les jardins occidentaux : des origines à Versailles, Editions Ivoire-Clair, 2008