To begin with, what is the built environment? It encompasses everything made, arranged, or maintained by people. More specifically, the built environment is the product of human intentions and the creation of human minds; its purpose is to satisfy human values, wants, and needs. Even though the built environment is essential not only to its users and owners but also to the community and society, the architecture and design industry is one of the industries that use the most energy, are the most destructive, and use the most materials. Adaptability to meet shifting sustainability requirements in architecture can eventually result in wasteful expenditures, environmental pressure, and dissatisfaction. This article aims to determine whether built environments can provide comfort for their users. 

Can the built be cost effective and still provide a similar comfort and experience for its user? - Sheet1
The Vision of an Ideal Built Environment _©IPFA

Components of the Built Environment

Can the built be cost effective and still provide a similar comfort and experience for its user? - Sheet2
The Layers of the Built Environment_ ©S. Recken and J. Singleton

The built environment is a collection of interconnected layers or levels of varying sizes. The overall quality of built and natural environments, as well as human-environment relationships, are affected in different ways by every one of the individual elements and components of the built environment, which are:  

  1. Products – include materials and commodities generally created to extend the human capacity to perform specific tasks.
  2. Interiors – an arranged grouping of products generally enclosed within a structure.
  3. Structures – planned groupings of spaces defined by and constructed of products; generally, related activities are combined into composite structures.
  4. Landscapes – exterior areas and settings for planned groupings of spaces and structures.
  5. Cities – groupings of structures and landscapes of varying sizes and complexities, generally clustered together to define a community for economic, social, cultural, and environmental reasons.
  6. Regions – groupings of cities and landscapes of various sizes and complexities.
  7. Earth – includes all the above, the groupings of regions consisting of cities and landscapes (Bartuska, 2011).

The seven components’ lists and descriptions exemplify a significant overall theme: the connections exist between each element and other factors, with each component’s content a combination of smaller factors.

Can the built be cost effective and still provide a similar comfort and experience for its user? - Sheet3
The Built Environment Lifecycle _©Institute for Human Rights

Many architects and designers need to catch up on the interrelationships among the components of the built environment in an age of specialisation. Hence, intricate webs of elemental interrelationships need a lot of knowledge, forethought, and collaborative planning to create a high-quality built environment. Too frequently, designs have been project-specific and discipline-bound. To assist in incorporating content-component-context links within the built environment, architects and designers must establish common ties that bind their ideas. Together. An environment that is disjointed and chaotic often results from a lack of integration. Hence, to acknowledge the interdependencies between people, their professions, and fields of study, as well as between the many components, it is necessary to comprehend this issue.

Connection Between Users and the Built Environment

In building standards and certification programs, as well as in scholarly and design publications, well-being in the built environment is becoming increasingly discussed. However, there are still a lot of questions about how to effectively design, measure, and nurture well-being in the places we inhabit, although it is consistently one of the stated goals of both voluntary rating systems and regulatory codes. This includes developing appropriate metrics and tools to maintain and verify the well-being of and a clear interdisciplinary characterisation of well-being regarding the conception, operation, maintenance, and renovation of buildings and the spaces between and surrounding them.

Can the built be cost effective and still provide a similar comfort and experience for its user? - Sheet4
The relationship between comfort and the built environment_ ©Alavi H.S.

The theory that the built environment exists to support the activities of the users it houses is based on users’ experiences. Exploring the user’s experience in detail and methodically is the best way to analyse, comprehend, and evaluate its methods. To begin with, there must be agreement regarding who the users are. They may be using spaces created outside of the architectural elements surrounding them, such as gardens, streets, stairs, hospital rooms, office buildings, etc., or they may engage in activities within the built environment. In any given circumstance, there is probably more than one homogeneous user group, and their interests may diverge. 

Because the relationship between the user and their environment is dynamic and interactive, the user-centred approach must address this complexity. It works in reverse: the consequences of any user behaviour are a part of the user’s environmental experience. Hence, the user is not a static container that takes in the built environment as input. 


Human needs about the built environment_ ©Design and Planning

In most modern societies, conventional business drivers like market conditions, financial profit, construction processes and technology, and competitive advantage direct decisions about what, where, and when to build. Architectural considerations, building codes and standards specifications, and increasing ecological and environmental concerns are occasionally motivated by users’ requirements. In conventional building procurement processes, user considerations are uncommon and unheard of. This may be because they appear complicated and elusive compared to builders’ relatively straightforward and technology-oriented tools. As a result, society frequently settles for a built environment whose users constantly have to choose between what they need to do well and what they want to do. Hence, it is important to apply the user-centred theory to a wider range of building types and projects will increase environmental support for people’s activities, and incorporating user feedback into the user experience will eventually alter the industry’s operations. In conclusion, we all share the same objective: a built environment that encourages and supports human activity and helps people achieve their goals.


  1. Alavi, H.S. et al. (2017) “Comfort: A coordinate of user experience in interactive built environments,” Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2017, pp. 247–257. Available at:
  2. Altomonte, S. et al. (2020) “Ten questions concerning well-being in the built environment,” Building and Environment, 180. Available at:
  3. Korançe, F. (2021) “Sustainability of the build environment and its impact on user performance. case study Polis University,” VITRUVIO – International Journal of Architectural Technology and Sustainability, 6(1), pp. 56–71. Available at:
  4. McClure, W.R. and Bartuska, T.J. (2011) The built environment: A collaborative inquiry into design and planning. Somerset: Wiley.
  5. Vischer, J.C. (2008) “Towards a user-centred theory of the built environment,” Building Research and Information, 36(3), pp. 231–240. Available at: 

Audrey Kianjaya is a graduate architect and urban planner who is currently pursuing a career as an architectural researcher and writer. She aspires to make a positive impact through her writing and design, earning her project the title of “People’s Choice” from the Regen Dining Competition held in 2020.