A site exists as a location which something occupies. However, the potential for a site has always been part of the landscape, even though the site is only formally recognised in people's minds when considering a specific use. This study develops the thesis that the potentiality of a site can be perceived as a distinct reality by people, in contrast to the conventional idea that potential is assessed pragmatically on an ad hoc basis (thereby regarding the site as a purely cultural construct).
In order to find sites in the landscape, (and to assess their potential), folk societies codify their intuitive responses to the environment into systems of geomantic practice. Whilst each practice has a different manifestation, certain landscape qualities are similarly described by most cultures. The concept that the landscape could contain universal qualities for people which coalesce in discrete locations to form sites is examined to determine whether intuitive techniques for recognising these qualities could have relevance to architecture.
The belief that the potentialities of a site can be recognised and enhanced by human interaction is a central feature of the geomantic tradition. These potentialities are described variously in terms such as auspiciousness, spirit, or energy. An Australian architect, Greg Burgess, embraces these concepts in his work in an effort to rediscover the relationship between people and land. By using an interactive process referred to as 'intuitive osmosis' on site, Burgess's produces architecture which reinterprets traditional responses to the environment. This study also examines some of the issues raised by this reinterpretation.