ar(chi)pentage : what’s in a name?

The name ar(chi)pentage derives from the combination of the French word arpentage with that of architecture.
Arpentage describes the technique of taking measures across the landscape and of undertaking territorial surveys. As an activity, it has accompanied mankind from its early days on Earth, since the Egyptian civilisation was known for its knowledge of geometry as a basic surveying tool. Today technological innovations have allowed for increasingly sophisticated techniques to measure surfaces and territories.

Etymologically, the term arpentage derives from the latin arapennis, meaning ‘surface of a field,’ and indeed the arpent refers to a pre-metric unit of length and of area based on the Roman actus. Above all, what intrigued us about the term was its relevance for discovering cities and architecture, neighborhoods and their buildings. To practice arpentage both the precision of landscape measurement and the meticulousness of land subdivision are essential for a territory’s inhabitation.

If arpentage is all about taking measures, then ar(chi)pentage is all about composing intriguing itineraries for the architectural discovery of Belgium. Territorial measurement is translated into the exploration of urban environments where tracks still need to be beaten, and points along a path still need to be connected.

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