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Friday, November 7, 2008

Built environment

The phrase built environment refers to the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal places.

The term is also now widely used to describe the interdisciplinary field of study which addresses the design, management and use of these man-made surroundings and their relationship to the human activities which take place within them. The field is generally not regarded as an academic discipline in its own right, but as a "field of application" (or "interdiscipline") which draws upon the individual disciplines of economics, law, management, design and technology.

In architecture and environmental psychology, the phrase is a useful acknowledgement that a small fraction of buildings constructed annually, even in the industrialized world, are designed by architects, and that users of the built environment encounter issues that cross the traditional professional boundaries between urban planners, traffic engineers, zoning authorities, architects, interior designers, industrial designers, etc. Historically, much of the built environment has taken the form of vernacular architecture, and this is still the case in large parts of the world. In the industrialized world, many buildings are produced by large scale development remote from its eventual users.

In landscape architecture, the built environment is identified as opposed to the natural environment, with the recognition that places like Central Park may have the look, feel, and nourishing quality of natural surroundings while being completely artificial and "built," thus blurring the line between the two.

In urban planning, the phrase connotes the idea that a large percentage of the human environment is manmade, and these artificial surroundings are so extensive and cohesive that they function as organisms in the consumption of resources, disposal of wastes, and facilitation of productive enterprise within its bounds.Recently there has also been considerable dialogue and research into the impact of the built environment's impact on population health.

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