What is the environment that surrounds us? The boundaries are far too blurry and our perspective continually shifts. I simply prefer to deal with the situation at hand. We're simply in It.
Architecture and designed objects mediate the realms of the natural, the man-made and the many degrees of subtleties contained by each. The natural can be untouched, highly modified, spectacular or threatening; the man-made can be ancient, new, beautiful or mundane.
At the most basic level, a building, a tent or even a poncho provide protection. This is a fundamental description of shelter. Architecture and design move beyond this. They can approach art. Art in the sense that it enhances our lives, activities and well-being. It connects and defines our relationship with the surrounding environment, no matter what kinds of elements compose it.