Physical Environment V. Built Environment.

On (the) happy spaces project’s “About page” we described the purpose of the project as attempting “to create a synthesized understanding about how the physical environment affects people’s happiness.”

The physical environment includes all of your surroundings, those designed and those natural. The built environment is a part of the physical environment, but it is only that which is “designed.” It has been wonderful to see how posts deal with the physical, natural, and built environments — though both Gong and I deal with the world of design, acknowledging what about the physical and natural environments brings people happiness is crucial.

I was thrilled to stumbled across the Health Canada’s 1997 definition of the “Built Environment.” I have always loved the precision of definitions and thought I would share how the “Built Environment” is defined in the academic world.

The built environment is part of the overall ecosystem of our earth. It includes the land-use planning and policies that impact our communities in urban, rural, and suburban areas. It encompasses all buildings, spaces, and products that are created or modified by people. It includes our homes, schools, workplaces, parks/recreation areas, business areas and roads. It extends overhead in the form of electric transmission lines, underground in the form of waste disposal sites and subway trains, and across the country in the form of highways (Health Canada 1997, in McMackin 2005: 3).

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3 thoughts on “Physical Environment V. Built Environment.

  1. Erin Chantry says:

    Reblogged this on At the Helm of the Public Realm and commented:
    I stumbled across this wonderful post on the physical and built environments. We can constantly get caught up in urban design and planning terms, but its important that we understand their true meaning. I certainly plan to take these definitions on board when writing. Check out the Happy Spaces Project blog here:

  2. […] Physical Environment V. Built Environment ( […]

  3. […] Physical Environment V. Built Environment ( […]

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