Context theory

Context theory

Context theory is the theory of how environmental design and planning of new development should relate to its context. When decisions have been taken they are implemented by means of Land Use Plans, Zoning Plans and Environmental Assessments. A number of context theories set out principles for relationships new designs and the existing environment.


Picturesque theorists argued that landscapes should be composed 'like a picture' (ie a landscape painting) with a foreground, a middle ground and a background. The theory was applied to landscape gardens in the eighteenth century and as Nikolaus Pevsner argued to the wider topic of regional planning in the twentieth century. This produced the context theory that towns (the foreground) should be compact and urban, that the surrounding countryside (the middle ground) should retain its agricultural character and that remote areas (the background) should remain as natural parks.

Modernist town planners lacked sympathy with picturesque context theory. Their firm belief that 'form follows function' led to the prioritising of certain human needs over environmental considerations or deeper issues of meaning. When planning a new road, for example, the emphasis was on traffic analysis and engineering rather than on the relationship between the new road and its environmental context.

Ian McHarg opposed Modernist planning in his book Design with nature. He believed that new development should be preceded by the fullest possible analysis of the environmental context in which building would take place. The highway planners who were, in his view, destroying the American landscape at that time were described as 'highwaymen'.

Kenneth Frampton put forward a context theory which he described as Critical Regionalism to help consider the relationship between new architecture and its context. He believed that designers should make a critical response, rather than a sentimental or copyist response, to local design traditions.

Tom Turner, in Chapter 3 of a book on Landscape planning and environmental impact design (1998), argued for a broad approach to context theory based on an index of Similarity, Identity and Difference (the SID Index): 'On different occasions... a powerful case can be made for developments which are "similar to", "identical with" or "different from" their surroundings' (p88).

Jonathan Watts reported (on Tuesday June 12, 2007 in The Guardian) "China has become the land of 1,000 identical cities, a senior government official has warned in an outspoken attack on the country's rush towards modernity."

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Context-dependent memory — refers to improved recall of specific episodes or information when the context present at encoding and retrieval are the same. One particularly common example of context dependence at work occurs when an individual has lost an item (e.g. lost car …   Wikipedia

  • Theory of mind — is the ability to attribute mental states beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one s own.[1] Though there are… …   Wikipedia

  • Context (language use) — Context is a notion used in the language sciences (linguistics, sociolinguistics, systemic functional linguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, semiotics, etc.) in two different ways, namely as verbal context social context Contents 1 Verbal… …   Wikipedia

  • Context awareness — is defined complementary to location awareness. Whereas location may serve as a determinant for resident processes, context may be applied more flexibly with mobile computing with any moving entities, especially with bearers of smart… …   Wikipedia

  • Theory of Deep Democracy — Theory of Deep DemocracyThe theory of deep democracy makes a distinction between merely formal and deeper forms of democracy. Formal democracy is an important part of deep democracy, but it is merely a beginning or a necessary condition. In order …   Wikipedia

  • Context mixing — is a type of data compression algorithm in which the next symbol predictions of two or more statistical models are combined to yield a prediction that is often more accurate than any of the individual predictions. For example, one simple method… …   Wikipedia

  • Theory of justification — is a part of epistemology that attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are concerned with various epistemic features of belief, which include the ideas of justification, warrant, rationality, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Context-free grammar — In formal language theory, a context free grammar (CFG) is a formal grammar in which every production rule is of the form V → w where V is a single nonterminal symbol, and w is a string of terminals and/or nonterminals (w can be empty). The… …   Wikipedia

  • Context-free language — In formal language theory, a context free language is a language generated by some context free grammar. The set of all context free languages is identical to the set of languages accepted by pushdown automata. Contents 1 Examples 2 Closure… …   Wikipedia

  • Context-sensitive language — In theoretical computer science, a context sensitive language is a formal language that can be defined by a context sensitive grammar. That is one of the four types of grammars in the Chomsky hierarchy. Of the four, this is the least often used,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.