The Poetics of Space

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The Poetics of Space
The Poetics of Space (French edition).jpg
Cover of the French edition
AuthorGaston Bachelard
Original titleLa Poétique de l'Espace
TranslatorMaria Jolas
PublisherPresses Universitaires de France
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN0-8070-6439-4 (English edition)

The Poetics of Space (French: La Poétique de l'Espace) is a 1958 book by Gaston Bachelard. Bachelard applies the method of phenomenology to architecture basing his analysis not on purported origins (as was the trend in enlightenment thinking about architecture) but on lived experience in architectural places and their contexts in nature. He focuses especially on the personal, emotional response to buildings both in life and in literary works, both in prose and in poetry. He is thus led to consider spatial types such as the attic, the cellar, drawers and the like. Bachelard implicitly urges architects to base their work on the experiences it will engender rather than on abstract rationales that may or may not affect viewers and users of architecture.

Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home…. Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it. For a house that was final, one that stood in symmetrical relation to the house we were born in, would lead to thoughts—serious, sad thoughts—and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.

— Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Chapter 2: House and Universe: section VIII


Camille Paglia has listed The Poetics of Space as an influence on her 1990 work of literary criticism Sexual Personae.[1]

Edward S. Casey has noted the importance of The Poetics of Space in and for his book Getting Back into Space (2009).


  • Joan Ockman. Harvard Design Magazine Representations/Misrepresentations Number 6. Fall 1998. [1]


  1. ^ Paglia, Camille (1993). Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays. London: Penguin Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-14-017209-2.