A Shaolin Monastery building in China

A building or edifice is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, 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. To better understand the term building compare the list of nonbuilding structures.

Buildings serve several needs of society – primarily as shelter from weather, security, living space, 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 might be harsh and harmful).

Ever after the first cave paintings, buildings have additionally become objects or canvasses of much artistic expression. In recent years, interest in sustainable planning and building practises has additionally become an intentional part of the design process of a large number of new buildings.


A building and skybridge in Munich, Germany
The Rotunda in Hellerup, Denmark, a cylindric building made in steel frame and aluminum
Example of a religious building: the Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba), founded in 670, dates in its present state principally from the ninth century. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is located in the city of Kairouan, Tunisia.
Da Vinci building (at the left), in Mendoza, Argentina. Considered one of the 1000 architectures of the Americas.

The word building is both a noun and a verb: the structure itself and the act of making it. As a noun, a building is '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". In the broadest interpretation a fence or wall is a building. Notwithstanding the word structure is used more broadly than building including natural and man-made formations and doesn't necessarily have walls. Structure is more likely to be used for a fence. Sturgis' Dictionary included that "[building] differs from Architecture [sic] in excluding all idea of artistic treatment; and it differs from Construction [sic] in the idea of excluding scientific or highly skilful treatment." As a verb, building is the act of construction.

Structural height in technical usage is the height to the highest architectural detail on building from street-level. Depending on how they're classified, spires and masts might or might not be included in this height. Spires and masts used as antennas aren't generally included. The definition of a low-rise vs. a high-rise building is a matter of debate, but generally three storeys or less is considered low-rise.


A report by Shinichi Fujimura of a shelter built 500 000 years ago is doubtful after Fujimura was later found to have faked a large number of of his findings. Supposed remains of huts found at the Terra Amata site in Nice purportedly dating from 200 000 to 400 000 years ago have additionally been called into question. (See Terra Amata.) There is clear evidence of home-building from around 18 000 BC. Buildings became common throughout the Neolithic (see Neolithic architecture).


A block of tenements (apartments) in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, Scotland


Single-family residential buildings are most often called houses or homes. Residential buildings containing more than one dwelling unit are called a duplex, apartment building to distinguish them from 'individual' houses. A condominium is an flat that the occupant owns rather than rents. Houses might additionally be built in pairs (semi-detached), in terraces where all but two of the houses have others either side; apartments might be built round courtyards or as rectangular blocks surrounded by a piece of ground of varying sizes. Houses which were built as a single dwelling might later be divided into apartments or bedsitters; they might additionally be converted to another use e.g. an office or a shop.

Building types might range from huts to multi-million dollar high-rise apartment blocks able to house thousands of people. Increasing settlement density in buildings (and smaller distances between buildings) is usually a response to high ground prices resulting from a large number of people wanting to live close to work or similar attractors. Other common building materials are brick, concrete or combinations of either of these with stone.

Residential buildings have different names for their use depending if they're seasonal include holiday cottage (vacation home) or timeshare; size such as a cottage or great house; value such as a shack or mansion; manner of construction such as a log home or mobile home; proximity to the ground such as earth sheltered house, stilt house, or tree house. Also if the residents are in need of special care such as a nursing home, orphanage or prison; or in group housing like barracks or dormitories.

Historically a large number of people lived in communal buildings called longhouses, smaller dwellings called pit-houses and houses combined with barns at times called housebarns.

Buildings are defined to be substantial, permanent structures so additional dwelling forms such as houseboats, yurts, and motorhomes are dwellings but not buildings.


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


The practise 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 might include:

Regardless of their size or intended use, all buildings in the US must comply with zoning ordinances, building codes and additional 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 funding

Building services

Physical plant

The BB&T Building in Macon, Georgia is constructed of aluminum.

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 systems

Systems for transport of people within buildings:

Systems for transport of people between interconnected buildings:

Building damage

A building in Massueville, Quebec, Canada engulfed by fire

Buildings might be damaged throughout the construction of the building or throughout maintenance. There are several additional reasons behind building damage like accidents such as storms, explosions and subsidence caused by mining or poor foundations. Buildings additionally might suffer from fire damage and flooding in special circumstances. They might additionally become dilapidated through lack of proper maintenance or alteration work improperly carried out.