Coursebooks 2017-2018


UE U : Cartography


Lecturer(s) :

Maçães E Costa Bárbara




It is not allowed to withdraw from this subject after the registration deadline.


Orientation: G Urban Nature


This teaching unit aims to experiment with the medium of cartography as a means of spatial representation, and as a tool for reading, perceiving and changing the territory.


The term cartography is based on Latin charta, meaning `paper' or `map', and -graphia, meaning `description', which derives from graphein, meaning `to write' or `to draw'. Swiss historian André Corboz defines description as something between the act of reading (analysis) and writing (designing). He claims that there can be no description of a territory without a fiction of the territory, a positioning that contains a speculative and ethical critique. This is reminiscent of a sketch by Le Corbusier that defines a certain type of `architectural gaze' as the gradual transition from the act of `looking' to that of `creating', stating: 'la clef c'est regarder' regarder, observer, voir, imaginer, inventer, creer'. The map-as-description is situated at the heart of this process that turns observation into action. Maps have the power to actually make the territories they represent because description, -graphia, is already a project.

In its totality, the territory is chaotic and complex. In order to guide subjects in this inconceivable space, maps encode the peculiarities of the physical world into abstract symbols, made up of particular marks that help suggest spatial correlations, such as direction, distance, movement and structure. Maps are drawings and cartography is a language, a system of communication made up of meanings (contents) and signs (forms). Drawing is complementary to thought, it is a machine of vision, measurement and assimilation.

During this course, we will refer to a wide range of historical cartographic references and question established stereotypes of spacial representation, such as linear perspective, the navigation chart or the God's eye view. The course will point out the links between cartography and landscape painting, and we will discuss and experiment with drawing techniques both in class and outdoors.


Cartography, drawing, landscape, territory, tracing, system, reading, palimpsest.

Learning Prerequisites

Important concepts to start the course

Basic hand sketching skills appreciated but not mandatory. Abstraction, composition, urban palimpsest, territorial networks and structures.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

Transversal skills

Teaching methods

The content of the class will be transmitted through a series of lectures and practical individual assignments followed by desk critiques and intermediate reviews. Classes will occasionally include the close reading of historical maps and the analysis of texts or passages on cartography/landscape. Special focus will be given to hand drawing, CAD and GIS assistance may also happen uppon request. The final submittal of the U.E. will consist of all the work produced during the semester.

Expected student activities

One of the classes will be a trip to the Geneva botanical gardens.

Assessment methods

Continuous assessment. 

Intermediate exercises and desk critiques: 50% of grade. 

Review of final work: 30% of grade.

Visual Journal: 20% of grade.


Office hours Yes
Assistants No
Forum No



Reference catalogues:

AKERMAN, James R. and KARROW JR, Robert W., eds., 2007. Maps: Finding Our Place in the World. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.

BROTTON, Jerry, 2014. Great Maps. London: Dorling Kindersley.

ECO, Umberto, 2013. The Book Of Legendary Lands. New York: Rizzoli.

HARMON, Katharine, 2013. You Are Here: mapping the soul of the city. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

HESSLER, John, 2015. Map: Exploring the World. London and New York: Phaidon Press.

Theoretical writings:

CASEY, Edwars S, 2002. Representing Place: landscape painting and maps. Minneapolis: University of Minesota Press.

CLARK, Kenneth, 1950. Landscape Into Art. London: John Murray

COSGROVE, Denis, ed., 1999. Mappings (Critical Views). London: Reaktion.

CORBOZ, André, 2001. Le Territoire Comme Palimpseste et Aurtres Essais. Paris: Les Éditions de L'Imprimeur

HARLEY, J. B., 2002. The New Nature Of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

JACKSON, John B., 1980. The Necessity for Ruins. Amherst: University of Massachussetts Press.

MAROT, Sébastien, 2010. L'art De La Mémoire, Le Territoire et L'Architecture. Paris: Éditionsde la Villette.

PONTE, Alessandra, 2014. "Maps and Territories" in The House of Light and Entropy. London: AA Publications.

ROGER, Alain, 1997. Court Traité Du Paysage. Paris: Gallimard.

SIMMEL, Georg, 2007. "The Philosophy of Landscape." in Theory, Culture & Society [e-journal] 24(7'8), p.20'29.

THROWER, Norman J. W., 2008. Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society.Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.

TURCHI, Peter, 2004. Maps Of The Imagination: the writer as cartographer. San Antonio: Trinity University Press.

Ressources en bibliothèque

Prerequisite for

Atelier de Projet Gugger / Urban Nature / laba.

In the programs

    • Semester
    • Exam form
       During the semester
    • Credits
    • Subject examined
      UE U : Cartography
    • Lecture
      3 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
    • Exercises
      1 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
    • Semester
    • Exam form
       During the semester
    • Credits
    • Subject examined
      UE U : Cartography
    • Lecture
      3 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
    • Exercises
      1 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
  • AR Exchange, 2017-2018, Autumn semester
    • Semester
    • Exam form
       During the semester
    • Credits
    • Subject examined
      UE U : Cartography
    • Lecture
      3 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
    • Exercises
      1 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks

Reference week

Under construction
      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German