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Context: Architecture and the Genius of Place

Eric Parry

ISBN: 978-1-119-95271-8 May 2015 192 Pages


Demonstrates how a building's setting should inform and inspire rather than constrain architectural design

Context-Architecture and the Genius of Place is a highly engaging, informative discussion of context in architectural theory and practice. Eric Parry, one of the UK's most highly regarded architects — whose work has been widely lauded for its innovative response to its setting — addresses the contemporary definition of context and its importance for sustainable everyday living and urban design. Looking beyond the formal agenda to explore the fundamentals that give new social and cultural perspective to this vital point of departure for designers, this book turns the urban statistician's telescopic focus on global trends inside out for a better understanding of the cultural and physical conditions that make archetypes like the Parisian Café, the London High Street, the Baltic City Square, and the Mumbai Market part of the architect's lexicon. From pavement to landscape, readers will examine how context must be taken into account at every stage in the design process.

This book draws on the author's extensive experience within complex urban settings to show how the existing fabric and social conditions can provide an essential starting point for new design, offering a framework for thinking about design responses and their relationship to cultural origins of place.

  • Discover the importance of orientation
  • Develop a sequential understanding of urban space
  • Hear the dialogue between parts within a whole
  • Differentiate the uses of formal and informal

Whereas existing urban settings, particularly historic city centers, are generally regarded as limiting to architectural creativity, this book presents context as grounds for inspiration rather than constraint. When used correctly, these techniques create the feeling that a new building has always been there, simply because it "fits". Context explains the methods behind brilliant architecture, helping designers create buildings that not only belong, but can provide a catalyst to urban life.

Introduction 008

Chapter 1: Pavement 013

Chapter 2: Horizon 048

Chapter 3: Simultaneity 078

Chapter 4: Kinetics 106

Chapter 5: Artifice 146

Select Bibliography 185

Index 187

Picture Credits 192

“..a handy on-site reference” (Building Engineer, June 2015)

“Parry’s enthusiasm for his subject gives the book an optimistic tone, and thus makes it quite an inspirational read for those interested in architecture” (, August 2015)