The built environment is the human-made surroundings where people gather to live, work and play. It encompasses both the physical structures where people do these activities and the supporting infrastructures, such as transport, water and energy networks. The built environment is a material, spatial and cultural product of human labour and imagination.
The built environment has an impact on human wellbeing. Its structure, form and function, as well as the quality of its natural environmental assets, determine its suitability for living in. The built environment also puts pressure on natural resources, mainly through the use of land, water and energy resources, as well as through the waste that is generated from activities taking place within it.
Australia's built environment takes many forms. Almost two-thirds (64%) of Australians live in the eight capital cities.1 Large numbers of Australians also live in other cities and towns and in rural and remote areas (Table 10.1). In 2006, the proportion of Australia's population living in urban areas was 87%, up from 85% a decade earlier.2
The nature of the built environment in Sydney (major city) is vastly different from that in Cloncurry (remote). However, no matter how big or small, all urban environments place pressure on natural resources and have common characteristics that determine their suitability for living in.
|Level of remoteness|
|Number||Percentage of total population||Percentage change from 2009 to 2010|
|Major cities||15 337 721||68.7||1.8|
|Inner regional||4 401 672||19.7||1.8|
|Outer regional||2 086 609||9.3||1.2|
|Very remote||176 202||0.8||1.1|
|Total||22 328 847||100.0||1.7|
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics1
Most Australians live near the coast, and Australia's highest population densities are found in coastal regions (Figure 10.1). Australia's seven largest cities are coastal, and only 4 of the 18 cities with populations of more than 100 000 are located inland.