Site Matters

Three premises inform this book. First, site knowledge, even if unspoken, exerts a powerful force in design that theoretical inquiry should acknowledge and critically assess. Second, historiography has sanctioned particular ways of engaging with site matters, and the dele- terious effects of these sanctions should be recognized and countered. Third, modes of representation construe sites, and their formative role in the production of site knowledge should be revealed and expressed.

Design does not simply impose on a place. Site and designer engage in dialogic interaction. At once extrinsic and intrinsic, a site exists out there in the world but acquires design meaning only through its apprehension, intellectually and experientially. Therefore, we claim the site as a relational construct that acquires meaning and value through situational interaction and exchange. This relational condition of the site derives from uninterrupted exchange between the real and the representational, the extrinsic and the intrinsic, the world and the world- as-known. (…)

Theorizing site thinking involves critically examining ideological, historical, and disciplinary frameworks to discern the sources of unarticulated knowledge and the ends to which it is put. We begin with basic questions. How are sites defined? How is value assigned to a site? How do meanings accumulate around the notion of site? Where do they come from, how are they applied, and how are they derived?

Carol J. Burns, Andrea Kahn, Why Site Matters (2005)

Shuishi, Nanchang Red Earth Park (2018)

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