The urban environment basically describes the cities that many of us live in. Many are dominated by a tree-less landscape of concrete and steel buildings and structures that are sharp-edged and hard-surfaced. However there is more attention these days to incorporating sustainable design from an “urban ecology” standpoint.
We are becoming better attuned to organic design using sustainable materials that have higher energy efficiency, and there is a push to build human settlements that are ecologically integrated and sustainable, separated by green-spaces, healthy, and supportive of socially resilient communities.
Many large buildings are being built more smartly, quickly, efficiently and sensitively, as well as adhereing to certified Green Star Building Ratings and codes that minimise waste and energy use and maximise water-saving initiatives. For example urban buildings can utilise ambient light in a way to reduce reliance on electrical lighting (such as using optimally placed windows or internal courtyard spaces), and reduce reliance on climate control (by allowing access to the external climate when desirable, or by using passive energy and water efficient systems to cool heat or insulate a space).
Of course, eco-functional architecture still requires to be expressive, vital, exciting, eye-catching and visually alluring in its design and application to an urban environment.