- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 04 Oct 2019
In its widest sense, the term 'context' refers to the circumstances or interrelated conditions that are relevant to something that exists or occurs.
In terms of the built environment, 'context' can refer to the conditions which surround a particular site or project, and to which it should relate and connect to in some way. The buildings and structures that make up the built environment do not exist in isolation but are conceived and designed in order to respond to, support and enhance their surroundings.
With the notion of context come connotations of the existing fabric, the locality, tradition and the vernacular. By embedding the intentions of a design within the essence of its surroundings, a connection linking new and old can be made, creating or maintaining a metaphysical 'place'.
- The topography of the area.
- The site’s history and previous uses.
- Local culture.
- Architectural style.
- Local materials and construction techniques.
- Weather and microclimate.
- Political conditions.
- National and local policy.
- The state of the economy.
These factors can be analysed, adapted and adopted to make a proposed development 'fit' into its context. This can give meaning to different aspects of a project through reference to its wider surroundings.
Context is one the aspects of design that might be considered when a planning application is made. Planners may reject a planning application if they do not feel a proposed development fits within the local context.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Aesthetics and architecture.
- Building design.
- Concept architectural design.
- Design intent.
- Design methodology.
- Design principles.
- Empirical design.
- Form follows function.
- Monument and context.
- Polite architecture.
- Truth to materials.
- Vernacular architecture.
- Visual impact.
Featured articles and news
The initiative to enhance the environment continues.
Could underused community spaces offer an alternative to working from home?
Keeping workers and workplaces safe in the United States.
A history lesson in geographic information systems.
A low tech, easy to use method of extinguishing small fires.
How can these valued spaces be reused?
Partnership avoids the need for listed building consent.
Connecting building design from inception to completion to operations.
Gregor Harvie predicts interoperability will be construction’s Uber moment.
Expert commentary and insight.
Guidance offered for stained glass window maintenance.
Define need before determining viability.