How could one design for a site seen only in photographs taken by someone else? Impossible. Site analysis, at a large scale and recorded through detached rational mappings, has given way to site readings and interpretations drawn from first-hand experience and from a specific site’s social and ecological histories. These site-readings form a strong conceptual beginning for a design response, and are registered in memorable drawings and mappings conveying a site’s physical properties, operations, and sensual impressions.

Material Imagination

The imagining powers of our mind develop around two very different axes.

Some get their impetus from novelty; they take pleasure in the picturesque, the varied and the unexpected. The imagination that they spark always describes springtime. In nature these powers, far from us but already alive, bring forth flowers.

Others plumb the depths of being. They seek to find there both the primitive and the eternal. They prevail over season and history. ln nature, within us and without, they produce seeds – seeds whose form is embedded in a substance, whose form is internal.

By speaking philosophically from the outset, we can distinguish two sorts of imagination: one that gives life to the formal cause and one that gives life to the material cause – or, more succinctly, a formal imagination and a material imaginationThus abbreviated, these concepts seem to me indispensable for a complete philosophical study of poetic creation. Causes arising from the feelings and the heart must become formal causes if a work is to possess verbal variety, the ever-changing life of light. Yet besides the images of form, so often evoked by psychologists of the imagination, there are – as l will show – images of matter, images that stem directly from matter. The eye assigns them names, but only the hand truly knows them. A dynamic joy touches, moulds and rehnes them. When forms, mere perishable forms and vain images – perpetual change of surfaces – are put aside, these images of matter are dreamt substantially and intimately. They have weight; they constitute a heart. 
Of course, there are works in which the two imagining powers cooperate. It is not even possible to separate them completely. Even the most fleeting, changing and purely formal reverie still has elements that are stable, dense, slow and fertile. Yet even so, every poetic work that penetrates deeply enough into the heart of being to find the constancy and lovely monotony of matter, that derives its strength from a substantial cause, must bloom and bedeck itself. It must embrace all the exuberance of formal beauty in order to attract the reader in the first place.

Gaston Bachelard, Imagination and Matter (1942)


Julie Bargmann + D.I.R.T., Urban Outfitters Headquarters (2011)