The Context Story

The Context Story

In November 2018, Context celebrated 30 years in business. From its beginnings its core purpose was to focus – on people, place and heritage – this still holds true today.

Context was one of Australia’s first specialist heritage consulting firms.  It was committed to making a difference focussing on places with communities, history, heritage and environmental conservation at the heart of practice.

The business was established when founding director Chris Johnston decided to grow her flourishing freelance practice and create a new heritage consulting company. In searching out a business name – she found ‘Context’. The word and its meaning speaks clearly to the company’s purpose and practice.

In 1990 the first permanent staff were appointed. Context quickly outgrew the front room of Chris’ Brunswick home and relocated to a new light filled studio-office in the rear garden.

Over three decades Context has built a strong reputation through its work on local heritage planning studies.

The first local government heritage study by Context was the 1990 Brunswick Conservation Study Review.

The study was a significant piece of work for the practice. The Context team walked, cycled or drove every street in the area, sometimes multiple times.

Context’s first Aboriginal heritage project was the Lake Condah Heritage Management Plan in 1992. Our relationship with the Gunditjmara community and Aboriginal Victoria has continued strongly, and we have since completed many projects together, most notably the Budj Bim World Heritage Nomination Dossier in 2018.

By 1999 Context was on the move to larger premises.  The old Holeproof factory in Merri Street Brunswick,  was being redeveloped at the time and the Context team moved into a converted commercial space.

By the mid-2000s Louise Honman joined as Senior Heritage Advisor and Context was operating three teams across environment, heritage and community.

The last 10 years have seen the focus on Context turn increasingly towards large scale heritage studies across the historic urban landscape. The company’s continuing success has been supported by a multidisciplinary approach and collaborations with strategic partners and affiliates.

Our services today include heritage planning, built heritage, community values and engagement, strategic advice, Aboriginal heritage, archaeology, placemaking, interpretation and public history.

Built upon a long history of fruitful collaboration and mutual respect, in 2017 we merged with GML Heritage.  GML and Context share a commitment to offering heritage services that are founded on quality, bold thinking, intellectual rigour, and industry best practice.  We are ever curious and always learning to ensure that we continue to provide solutions that respond to the challenges of our time.

From humble beginnings and a strong purpose, Context has grown consistently on the strength of its great clients and talented team of people.

Our vision is to provide a genuinely holistic response to the heritage challenges of today.

We look forward to continuing this journey with you.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more and meet our team.