The Built Environment


The built environment describes the artificial, man-made structures in which we live, work and play. All artificial surfaces, including buildings, roads, pavements etc. come under the heading of the built environment.

The built environment has evolved over time since the earliest man-made structures. Today we live in a very crowded, urbanised world in which the volume of artificial surfaces is increasing rapidly.

Such developments can have detrimental effects on our natural environment. Equally, well planned cities can reduce the cumulative impact of human activity on the environment through efficiencies of scale and appropriate environmental management. It is therefore important to regulate the built environment at local, national and EU level. This helps to protect what was good from the past and to plan wisely for the future.

With regards to preserving buildings of significant architectural value, some of Ireland 's historic houses are under the care of the Irish Heritage Trust, helping to protect these beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings. Surveys of each county are also conducted by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), identifying buildings of architectural importance to Irish heritage.

Where are People Living in Ireland?

The population of Ireland is currently a little over 4.5 million (CSO, 2011). Of that total, more than 1.2 million live in the Greater Dublin Area and 120,000 live in Cork City (CSO, 2011). The increase in population from 2006 of approximately 300,000 and a steady trend towards urbanisation, especially in the east of the country near Dublin, impacts heavily on the environment. For example:

  • Air and noise pollution caused by increased traffic;
  • Pressure on infrastructure such as waste management, fresh water supply, roads, housing;
  • Loss in biodiversity caused by changes in land use from agricultural to housing and industrial developments.

Such trends create a potentially unsustainable living environment. It is therefore important to plan the development of those urban areas in such a way that a balanced, eco-friendly, and sustainable lifestyle can be maintained.


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