Thursday, September 8, 2011


Architecture needs a ground to stand on.  But the ground is not a flat entity, it consist of a wide range of layers. These layers can be physical but also social, economical, political, aesthetic,... A site needs boundaries to be defined. Every layer out of which the site is made up, doesn't necessarily has the same boundary. Sites are a complex network of relationships in which architecture and landscape architecture have to move.

After the paradigms of Modernism, with it's tabula rasa planning and apparent neglecting of the subject site, Why Site Matters tries to bring back to life the discourse on the subject of sites. In a series of essays this discourse tries to focus on three important issues. A first group of essays tries to talk about vocabulary, terms and concepts, the second tries to revisite and rewrite history to measure the degree of importance of site matters in design and a third speaks to the relationship between representation techniques, methods of study and strategic approaches on design. From the concept of owning property as   one of America's basic rights, to the history of site importance in landscape architecture and ecology, a very thorough theory of site matters is reached in this book.

A beautiful photo essay shows a images and commentary which signals the importance of creative work on the discourse of site matters and works as a graphic representation of the matters addressed in the book.

Agnes Denes, Wheatfield - A Confrontation, 1982
Agnes Denes planted two acres of wheat and harvested it on the Battery Park landfill in Manhatten's financial district. A geographical (city/country) and social ( Denes was making a point about world hunger and the exploitation of recources by putting the field next to the financial district) confrontation.

Drex Brooks, Pyramid Lake Battlefield, 1988-1989
In May and June 1860, two battles initiated the Paiute resistance to white invasion of their lands. They were subdued and scattered to reservations, not allowed to return to Pyramid Lake until 1883. The construction of a playground by the descendants of those who died transforms the site of the battles, hope overcoming despair.

Source: Burns Carol J. and Kahn A., Site Matters, Routledge, New York and London, 2005, pp319