The phrase built environment refers to the manmade surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal places.
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 (see www.activelivingbydesign.org).
- City planning
- Vernacular architecture
- Sustainable vernacular architecture
- Landscape architecture
- Interior architecture
- Environmental Design Research Association
- Cultural landscape
- Environmental psychology