A building, or edifice, is an enclosed
structure with a
roof andwalls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a
factory (although there's also portable buildings). 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, land prices, ground conditions, specific uses,
prestige, and aesthetic reasons. To better understand the term building compare the list of
Buildings serve several societal needs – 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 may be harsh and harmful).
Ever since the first
cave paintings, buildings have also become objects or canvasses of much artistic expression. In recent years, interest in
sustainable planning and building practices has also become an intentional part of the design process of many new buildings and other structures.
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. However, the word structure is used more broadly than building including natural and man-made formations and does not necessarily have walls. Structure is more likely to be used for a fence.
Sturgis' Dictionary included that "[building] differs from
architecture in excluding all idea of artistic treatment; and it differs from
construction 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 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.
Single-family residential buildings are most often called
homes. Multi-family residential buildings containing more than one dwelling unit are called a
duplex or an
apartment building. A
condominium is an apartment that the occupant owns rather than rents. Houses may also be built in pairs (
semi-detached), in terraces where all but two of the houses have others either side; apartments may 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 may later be divided into apartments or
bedsitters; they may also be converted to another use e.g. an office or a shop.
hotels, especially of the extended stay variety (like
apartels) can also be classed as residential.
Building types may range from
huts to multimillion-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 many 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.
Sometimes a group of inter-related (and possibly inter-connected) builds are referred to as a complex – for example a
housing complex, educational complex, hospital complex, etc.
The practice of designing, constructing, and operating buildings is most usually a collective effort of different groups of
trades. Depending on the size, complexity, and purpose of a particular building project, the project team may include:
The principal design Engineering disciplines which would normally include the following professionals:
Civil, Structural, Mechanical building services or HVAC (heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Electrical Building Services, Plumbing and drainage. Also other possible design Engineer specialists may be involved such as Fire (prevention), Acoustic, façade engineers, building physics, Telecoms, AV (Audio Visual), BMS (Building Management Systems) Automatic controls etc. These design Engineers also prepare construction documents which are issued to specialist contractors to obtain a price for the works and to follow for the installations.
Any building requires a certain general 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.
Buildings may be damaged during the construction of the building or during maintenance. There are several other reasons behind building damage like accidents such as storms, explosions, subsidence caused by mining, water withdrawal or poor foundations and landslides. Buildings also may suffer from
fire damage and flooding in special circumstances. They may also become dilapidated through lack of proper maintenance or alteration work improperly carried out.
Hypothetical future buildings
Advances in construction technology, ideologies, etc may allow (or necessitate) the construction of new kinds of buildings and complexes, like an
^Building def. 2. Whitney, William Dwight, and Benjamin E. Smith. The Century dictionary and cyclopedia. vol. 1. New York: Century Co., 1901. 712. Print.
^Structure. def. 2. Merriam-Webster's dictionary of synonyms: a dictionary of discriminated synonyms with antonyms and analogous and contrasted words.. Springfield, Mass: Merriam-Webster, 1984. 787. Print.
^Building. def 1. Sturgis, Russell. A dictionary of architecture and building: biographical, historical, and descriptive. vol. 1. New York: The Macmillan Co.; 1901. 2236. Print.
^Paul Francis Wendt and Alan Robert Cerf (1979), Real estate investment analysis and taxation, McGraw-Hill, p. 210
^Bru, G.; Herrera, G.; Tomás, R.; Duro, J.; Vega, R. De la; Mulas, J. (2013-02-01). "Control of deformation of buildings affected by subsidence using persistent scatterer interferometry". Structure and Infrastructure Engineering. 9 (2): 188–200.
^Brotóns, V.; Tomás, R.; Ivorra, S.; Alarcón, J. C. (2013-12-17). "Temperature influence on the physical and mechanical properties of a porous rock: San Julian's calcarenite". Engineering Geology. 167 (Supplement C): 117–127.