A building and skybridge in Munich, Germany.

In architecture, construction, engineering and real estate development the word building may refer to one of the following:

  1. Any human-made structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or continuous occupancy, or
  2. An act of construction (i.e. the activity of building, see also builder)

In this article, the first usage is generally intended unless otherwise specified.

Buildings come in a wide amount of shapes and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a wide number of factors, from building materials available, to weather conditions, to land prices, ground conditions, specific uses and aesthetic reasons.

Buildings serve several needs of society – primarily as shelter from weather and as general living space, to provide privacy, to store belongings and to comfortably live and work. A building as a shelter represents a physical division of the human habitat (a place of comfort and safety) and the outside (a place that at times may be harsh and harmful).

Ever since the first cave paintings, buildings have also become objects or canvasess of artistic expression. In recent years, interest in sustainable planning and building practices has also become part of the design process of many new buildings.


Building is defined in many aspects as:

  • The act of constructing, erecting, or establishing.
  • The art of constructing edifices, or the practice of civil architecture.
  • That which is built; a fabric or edifice constructed, as a house, a church, castle, arena/ stadium, etc
  • The act of constructing or building something; "during the construction we had to take a detour"; "his hobby was the building of boats"
  • The commercial activity involved in constructing buildings; "their main business is home construction"; "workers in the building trades"
  • A structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place; "there was a three-storey building on the corner"; "it was an imposing edifice"
  • The occupants of a building; "the entire building complained about the noise"

To differentiate buildings in the usage of this article from other buildings and other structures that are not intended for continuous human occupancy, the latter are called non-building structures or simply structures.

Structural height in technical usage is the height to the highest architectural detail on building from street-level. Depending on how they are classified, spires and masts may or may not be included in this height. Spires and masts used as antennas are not generally included.

The definition of a low-rise vs. a high-rise building is a matter of debate, but generally three stories or less is considered low-rise.[citation needed]


The first shelter on Earth constructed by a relatively close ancestor to humans is believed to be built 500,000 years ago by an early ancestor of humans, Homo erectus.[1]


Main article: List of building types
Marburg, Fachwerkhaus von 1321 (2)

A timber framing house in Marburg, Germany.


Residential buildings are called houses/homes, though buildings containing large numbers of separate dwelling units are often called apartment buildings / blocks to differentiate them from the more 'individual' house.

Building types may range from one-room wood-framed, masonry, or adobe dwellings to multi-million dollar high-rise buildings able to house thousands of people. Increasing settlement density in buildings (and closer distances between buildings) is usually a response to high ground prices resulting from many people wanting to live close to work or similar attractors.



Some of Denver's multi-storey buildings.

A multi-storey building is a building that has multiple floors above ground in the building.

Multi-storey buildings aim to increase the area of the building without increasing the area of the land the building is built on, hence saving land and, in most cases, money (depending on material used and land prices in the area).


The practice of designing, constructing, and operating buildings is most usually a collective effort of different groups of professionals and trades. Depending on the size, complexity, and purpose of a particular building project, the project team may include:

Regardless of their size or intended use, all buildings in the US must comply with zoning ordinances, building codes and other regulations such as fire codes, life safety codes and related standards.

Vehicles—such as trailers, caravans, ships and passenger aircraft—are treated as "buildings" for life safety purposes.

Ownership and fundingEdit

Planning and designEdit

Building servicesEdit

Physical plantEdit

Main article: Physical plant

Any building requires a certain amount of internal infrastructure to function, which includes such elements like heating / cooling, power and telecommunications, water and wastewater etc. Especially in commercial buildings (such as offices or factories), these can be extremely intricate systems taking up large amounts of space (sometimes located in separate areas or double floors / false ceilings) and constitute a big part of the regular maintenance required.

Conveying systemsEdit

Systems for transport of people within buildings:

Systems for transport of people between interconnected buildings:

Building damageEdit

Fire inside an abandoned convent in Massueville, Quebec, Canada

A building in Massueville, Quebec, Canada engulfed by fire.

Buildings may be damaged during the construction of the building or during maintenance. There are several other reasons behind building damage like accident.[2] Buildings also may suffer from fire damage in special circumstances.[3]

See alsoEdit



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