The Built Environment then and now

Studying one of our degrees in the Built Environment will put you in good stead to work on an abundance of exciting live projects, such as the emerging HS2 that is happening right in front of our City Centre Campus. Working amid this sector will allow you to renovate, construct and map the city.

Without the Built Environment, we wouldn’t have any infrastructure, construction or surroundings like offices to work in, parks to walk in, restaurants to dine in, shopping centres to shop in or roads to drive on.

In this blog we’ll discover the vast history of our built environment, the rapid developments the industry has made to our lives and what the future of this sector has to offer.


The Built Environment encompasses our day-to-day lives and is an integral factor of how we function on a daily basis. We think that the trains we catch to and from work, or a friend’s house, have always operated in an agile way; we think that the houses that we live in have always been there because that’s all we know. However, we often forget what our built environment was like when our grandparents lived in it.

Let’s swing the pendulum back to 1945 post-World War II housing crisis, where there was a shortage of homes and the population was almost 49 million* within the UK. Inevitably, supply didn’t meet the stratospheric demand, so people’s homes were overcrowded. This meant that temporary homes had to be built as a short-term solution. These were called prefabricated houses which could be built quickly and set to last 10 years** which was revolutionary for the sector.

A few years later, in 1948, marked the nationalisation of British Railways (formerly known as the Big Four). This was the pioneering development of the infrastructural electric railway system that the vast majority of the nation still rely heavily on today.

Further ways in which the Built Environment has developed our infrastructure is the opening of the Gravelly Hill Interchange (also known as Spaghetti Junction) in 1972. It was designed to allow people to travel in and out of Birmingham faster with its six lanes and to intertwine the M6 motorway for quicker transportation routes.


New build houses are being built in pretty much every city and town. Everywhere you drive or walk past has some form of construction taking place on a variety of housing estates. These new builds are stringently designed to be more energy efficient and sustainable to live in, as opposed to houses that were built over 50 years ago, which is why there was 1.4 million registered to be built over the last decade according to the National House Building Council.*** Lichfield and Tamworth new builds are a couple of examples where we see the end result of what property developers, surveyors and construction managers can achieve.

There are projects that exist now, for quantity surveyors, civil engineers and construction managers, that didn’t 15 years ago, such as smart motorways. These ingenious motorways are scattered across the whole of the UK and have proven popular within this sector as they’re designed to mitigate road congestion and to be a lot safer. They have changed the way goods and people are moved across the country.

Further to this, the past decade has witnessed an immense amount of innovative projects across the UK, such as The Shard skyscraper in London and Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham, which created a rise in work for building surveyors. If you like the idea of building surveying, take a look at what our final year student, Jahid, has to say about the course and the opportunities he’s been exposed to.

The future

The future of the Built Environment will primarily be influenced by the population and where the economy is flourishing. Urbanisation is becoming more prevalent as people are choosing to live in cities rather than the suburbs. If cities continue to grow, this will create a profuse amount of jobs for the industry, which will drive economic growth. This will fundamentally involve minimising carbon emissions to make our environment as sustainable as possible; which will positively contribute to the health of our society.

It’s a promising and exciting time for the sector due to the velocity of the technological revolution. As technology is consistently evolving, so will the Built Environment as this will improve the efficiency of reinventing the city.

In a nutshell, the Built Environment is an important catalyst that impacts socio-economic factors by improving the community’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally, as people inhabit this environment. The sector also allows businesses to thrive through rural and urban redevelopments and the infrastructure implemented across the nation, which fuels our economy.


*Source: Closer

**Source: Heritage Calling

***Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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