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Built Environment

  • By: Richard Harris
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The built environment consists of those fixed, permanent elements of the landscape that people have created. The term usually refers to urban places, where it may include open spaces. It reflects and shapes culture in ways difficult to measure or theorize. Research on the topic is interdisciplinary; apart from geographers, it interests architects, planners, urbanists, and those studying population, health, and climate change.

Buildings are produced in one of three ways: (1) by contractors for specific clients, (2) on speculation for unknown buyers, or (3) by landowners for their own use. The only element commonly produced on speculation, or by owners for their own use, is housing. Governments shape the built environment, especially in urban areas. As clients, they arrange for the construction of some offices ...

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