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One of the significant discussions in the field of contemporary architectural theory is Contextualism; the deliberate attempt to design buildings that belong to their particular literal and abstract characteristics of place. The contexts are comprised of both tangible and intangible parameters that differentiate them and make them unique. Uganda is endowed with a variety of peculiar landscapes, one of which is the River Nile, as well as the several national parks and game reserves spread across the country. Murchison Falls National Park located on the north-west is its biggest and most-diverse. In the last two decades, there has been increased investment in tourism particularly in travel accommodation and related facilities that enhance tourist experience.

However, the changing dynamics of society today are forcing designers to think beyond the needs of the locals, and delving further into the tourism potential that lies therein. In spite of this, new developments are fulfilling the pragmatic demands of society, but at the cost of generating a sense of placelessness.

Most of the developments that have been set up within the Park, along the Nile’s bank negate both its tangible and intangible contexts that make this particular landscape worthwhile. These buildings are basically determined by programmatic requirements and considerations, as opposed to the site’s contextual requirements.

This dissertation attempts to delve into the theory of Contextualism, and investigate its contribution in enhancing the eco-tourism potential of the Park, consequently improving the social and economic framework of the country.


Tourism in Uganda is focused on the country’s landscape and wildlife. It is a major driver of employment,
investment and foreign exchange, contributing about 10% of the total National Gross Domestic Product
in the financial year 2019-2020 (UBOS, 2019). Adventure tourism, eco-tourism and cultural tourism
are a few of the categories of tourism offered in Uganda.

Eco-Tourism in particular, refers to tourism directed towards exotic, often threatened natural
environments intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. It has increasingly been
integrated worldwide with architecture, social sciences and the environment. Eco-tourism chooses
new and different ways it interacts with society compared to the past, to protect cultural and natural
heritage, along with the changes of the time.

Contextualism is an important paradigm in architectural theory and practice based research. Context
in architecture refers to the surroundings or setting in which the building is placed. In so doing,
architectural cues derived from a particular context play an important role in creating an architectural
identity distinct from any other locale.

A context in architecture is usually collected under three categories; form, activity and climatic
patterns. The form here includes elements such as space, scale, proportion, details of texture and
materials. These elements in both geographical and time aspects can be used to connect architecture
with its context (Tabarsa & Naseri, 2017).

Every nation with an identity, has a rich and varied past which reflects the culture of people who have
inhabited there. The fact is that culture is a national key asset that gives identity and distinguishes
it from other neighbours. Lack of touch with culture and history has led to the fragmentation of our
society links with the past, particularly in the field of architecture.

Various theories and approaches have been suggested to address the issue. This study is an attempt
to provide an approach of contextualism to maintain architectural identity and continuity of a place,
in enhancing architecture of eco-tourism. The dissertation also verifies different strategies to conserve
both the tangible and intangible contexts of a place and methodologies for responding to it logically in
the present context of Uganda. Here contextualism is seen as an approach to conserve the meaning of
a place, thereby enhancing the value of its eco-tourism.