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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Basil's Cathedral from the Red Square (Moscow). Its extraordinary onion-shaped domes, painted in bright colors, create a memorable skyline, making St. Basil's a symbol both of Moscow and Russia as a whole
Saint Basil's Cathedral from the Red Square (Moscow). Its extraordinary onion-shaped domes, painted in bright colors, create a memorable skyline, making St. Basil's a symbol both of Moscow and Russia as a whole

A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and[1] walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory.[1] 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, and aesthetic reasons. To better understand the term building compare the list of nonbuilding structures.

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.

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  • ✪ Why China Is so Good at Building Railways


This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your beautiful website for 10% off at Imagine a train that took you from Washington, DC to Dallas, Texas in nine hours… or Paris, France to Athens, Greece in nine hours… or Adelaide, South Australia to Perth, Western Australia in nine hours. These train trips actually take 44 hours, 44 hours, and 41 hours respectively so the idea of making any of these trips by train in nine hours seems almost absurd. In China, though, that’s reality. In September, 2018 the country opened up a brand new high speed rail route with d irect trains from Hong Kong to Beijing. This is about the same distance as DC to Dallas, Paris to Athens, or Adelaide to Perth and yet these trains make the trip in only 8 hours and 56 minutes. What makes this even more impressive is that ten years ago, in 2008, at the time of the Beijing Olympics, China’s high-speed rail network consisted of this. We’ll have to zoom in because the extent of the network was one 19 mile-long Maglev train from Shanghai Airport to the outskirts of Shanghai and a traditional high-speed rail line from Beijing to the coastal city of Tianjin. Today, ten years later, that network has expanded into this. China has eight times as much high speed track as France, ten times as much as Japan, twenty times as much as the UK, and five-hundred times as much as the US. In fact, China has as much high-speed rail track as the rest of the world combined. It is staggering the amount of progress they have made in such a short amount of time. Traditionally high speed rail exists in small countries with rich populations by the likes of Germany, France, and Japan. China is neither of these things. The country is enormous, about the same size as the US, and is also not rich. While no longer poor, China is definitively a middle income country. It’s about as rich as Mexico, Thailand, or Brazil. In fact, despite being the country with the most high speed rail in the world, China is also the poorest country in the world to have any high speed rail. Despite the country’s vast size, China’s huge population makes it very dense especially in the east half. This means that China does have large cities close enough together where it makes sense to take the train rather than the plane. Trips like Guangzhou to Changsha, a distance of 350 miles, take an hour by plane or 2 hours and 20 minutes by train. When factoring in the time it takes to check in, go through security, and board it absolutely makes sense to go by train when traveling between these two cities even without considering that the high-speed train is cheaper than flying. High speed rail even makes sense in China on longer routes where it wouldn’t in other countries. Beijing and Shanghai, for example, are about 650 miles apart. Normally that would be too far for high speed rail to make sense. Paris and Barcelona, for example, are 500 miles apart—closer than Beijing and Shanghai—but only two high speed trains a day run between the two cities compared to about 20 flights. Between Beijing and Shanghai, on the other hand, about 50 flights run per day run compared to 41 trains. Considering the trains carry far more people each, up to 1,200, trains are therefore the dominant means of transport between these two cities. There are a few differences between these two routes. For one, while Beijing-Shanghai by train takes 4 hours and 28 minutes, Paris-Barcelona, despite being a shorter distance, takes a longer 6 hours and 25 minutes. The other factor, though, is about the competition. Europe has an efficient air transport network dominated by budget airlines that are often far cheaper than trains. You can find tickets for flights between Paris and Barcelona for as little as $12 while the cheapest Beijing-Shanghai flights go for $74. Air travel within China is also far from efficient. China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China, the three largest Chinese airlines, arrive on time an average of 67%, 66%, and 63% of the time respectively. A big reason for this is that there’s just not enough room in the skies. A majority of China’s airspace is military controlled meaning that there are just these narrow flight corridors that account for 30% of airspace where civilian planes can fly. With tons of planes and not much room to fly planes are frequently delayed by air traffic control to wait for the airspace to clear up which leads to the abysmal on-time ratings of the country’s airlines. While the Beijing-Shanghai flight takes only two hours the potential of delays, along with all the other factors that make air travel slower, help make the train the popular means of transport on this longer route. Other train routes in China, though, make less sense. For example, in 2014, the new high speed train line opened between Lanzhou and Urumqi. These two cities are relatively small by China standards. They both have a population of 3.5 million and between them are only small towns. They’re also not close—about 1,000 miles separate them. This project could therefore be compared to building a high speed train from Denver to Seattle—they’re modestly sized cities a long way’s apart with nothing big in between. Some people would use it but it wouldn’t make any financial sense. In China, Lanzhou and Urumqi are not small cities but there’s really nothing big in between and, at that distance, there’s no sense not flying. The Lanzhou-Urumqi high speed train takes 11 hours compared to the 2.5 hour flight and the construction cost of that line was $20 billion meaning that, if every seat on every train was filled tickets would still have to cost $400 each way just to make back the construction cost in 30 years. In reality tickets cost about $80 and trains are far from full meaning that this rail line is just insanely far from profitable. The ticket revenues from these trains reportedly don’t even cover the cost of electricity for the line let alone construction and other operating costs. So why would the Chinese government sink so much money into something that has no prospects of really ever making money? Well, politics. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang province. While 92% of China’s population is Han Chinese, the Xinjiang province is primarily Uyghur—one of the minority ethnic groups of China—and there has been an ongoing fairly strong separatist movement by the Uyghurs from China that has often turned violent. The central government in Beijing, however, wants the Xinjiang province to be just as integrated as the rest of the country and has tried a variety of methods to force this including moving Han Chinese into the region and the imprisonment of Uyghurs in so-called “reeducation camps.” The high-speed train is just the most recent tactic to bring Xinjiang closer to Beijing and this is no secret. The central government is fully upfront in saying that the line was built to promote, as they call it, “ethnic unity.” This isn’t even the first time they’ve used this tactic of railroad politics. Tibet, a region even better known than Xinjiang for its independence movement, was the last region in China not to have a railway due to its small population and intense terrain. The central government still wanted to build one, though, to bring it closer to the rest of the country and so they did. Trains now run directly from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet in 47 hours on the highest elevation rail line in the world. These trains reach an elevation of 16,640 feet—so high that passengers have to use a direct oxygen supply. Even the train to Hong Kong serves the central government’s goal of further integrating Hong Kong, which is an autonomous special administrative region, into mainland China. While high-speed trains to Hong Kong certainly do make a lot more sense than trains to the Xinjiang province, many Hong Kongers have not greeted the new service kindly as they view it as an encroachment on the autonomy guaranteed to them by Hong Kong Basic Law. The most controversial part has not been the fact that there’s a train but rather that the station in Hong Kong includes an area that is effectively now part of Mainland China since people pass through border controls before boarding the train in Hong Kong. Just like any country, what having a high-speed, efficient rail network in China is doing is bringing the country together and making it stronger even if it’s bringing together people that want to stay apart. No matter their motives, it’s clear that China is building their high speed rail network more efficiently than any other country. To compare, this is the plan for California’s high speed rail line from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area. It’s currently in very early phases of construction and is expected to open by 2029. Of course that means that the time it will take for the California’s high speed rail network to go from this to this is the same as the time it took China’s high speed rail network to go from this to this but, the main thing to look at is cost. This Californian network is expected to cost $77 billion and is 520 miles long meaning that it will cost $148 million per mile to build. China, on the other hand, is building their network at a cost of only $30 million per mile. Of course labor costs are lower in China and their network crosses more rural areas where land acquisition costs are lower but, what’s more meaningful is that they’ve turned building high speed rail into almost an assembly line process where they can mass produce even the most expensive elements like viaducts and tunnels. In true Chinese fashion, with scale they’re making high-speed cheaper. The big difference between China and a lot of the western world, particularly countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, is that high speed rail is at the top of the government’s priorities. Unsurprisingly given their government structure, in many ways, China has placed social benefit, at least by the definition of the central government, ahead of profitability when developing their high speed rail network. High-speed rail lines just aren’t as profitable as other means of transport like planes but they are undoubtably better for countries so you have to consider the social benefit when looking at their overall profitability. For the San Francisco to LA high speed rail route, for example, one study found that the social benefit derived from lower carbon emissions, higher worker productivity, and reduced casualties from fewer people on the road would be equivalent to about $440 million per year. As it turns out, this is almost the exact amount that the state will have to subsidize the line for it to break even. The China Railway Corporation, a state owned enterprise, is actually slightly profitable, although it does have huge amounts of debts and is helped by government subsidies. The benefit to the Chinese people, though, is huge. The high-speed rail allows those who can’t afford to live in the most expensive cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to easily commute from cheaper suburbs by high-speed rail. Thanks to the high-speed rail, there are now 75 million people who can commute to Shanghai in under an hour. It is growing what are already some of the largest cities and, when it comes to cities, size is strength. These lines connecting the east’s largest cities are some of the most profitable rail lines in the world and they’re making living and working in China easier but the question is, when we look back decades from now, whether the high-speed trains to smaller cities will have made sense. Out of a desire to keep the lines going straight between the big cities, the stops for smaller cities are often out in the countryside dozens of miles away from the city core. The high speed station for Hengyang, for example, a smaller city of only a million, is about a 45 minute drive east of the city center. The hope is that new development will spring up around the stations but this network structure, even if it saves time on the train, wastes time before and after which degrades the benefit of high-speed rail. In all, China is really the first country to have experimented with long-distance, high speed rail through less-dense areas in its west. In the east, though, these trains are enlarging the country’s economic power. It’s just one of the many factors speeding up China’s catch-up with world’s richest countries. Even though China is building these trains for less and innovating on the construction of high-speed rail, the real reason why China is so good at building railways is because they have the one thing that almost every other country lacks—the political will for high-speed trains. Whenever I’m looking to to launch something new one of the first things I think about is how to present it online. I think about domain names, emails, websites, and where I always go to do all that is Squarespace. As you probably know by now, Squarespace is the all-in-one solution to building a web presence for whatever you do. Being in the internet age it’s incredibly important to present yourself well online and Squarespace’s beautiful designer templates, customizable website builder, and 24/7 award-winning customer support help you do that all for a reasonable monthly cost. It’s a much better solution that learning how to code a website or paying someone thousands to do it. It is also, of course, made easier by the fact that you can get 10% off by going to and you’ll be supporting the show by using that link.



A building and skybridge in Munich (Germany)
A building and skybridge in Munich (Germany)
Building from Bucharest (Romania)
Building from Bucharest (Romania)
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 9th century. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is located in the city of Kairouan, Tunisia.
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 9th century. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is located in the city of Kairouan, Tunisia.

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';[1] "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.[2] However, the word structure is used more broadly than building including natural and man-made formations[3] 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."[4] 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 storeys or less is considered low-rise.[5]


A report by Shinichi Fujimura of a shelter built 500 000 years ago[6] is doubtful since Fujimura was later found to have faked many of his findings.[7] Supposed remains of huts found at the Terra Amata site in Nice purportedly dating from 200 000 to 400 000 years ago[8] have also been called into question. (See Terra Amata.) There is clear evidence of homebuilding from around 18 000 BC.[9] Buildings became common during the Neolithic (see Neolithic architecture).


A block of tenements (apartments) in Dresden (Germany)
A block of tenements (apartments) in Dresden (Germany)


Single-family residential buildings are most often called houses or 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.

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.

Residential buildings have different names for their use depending if they are 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 many people lived in communal buildings called longhouses, smaller dwellings called pit-houses and houses combined with barns sometimes called housebarns.

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


Sometimes a group of inter-related (and possibly inter-connected) builds are referred to as a complex – for example a housing complex,[10] educational complex,[11] hospital complex, etc.


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:

  • A real estate developer who secures funding for the project;
  • One or more financial institutions or other investors that provide the funding
  • Local planning and code authorities
  • A Surveyor who performs an ALTA/ACSM and construction surveys throughout the project;
  • Construction managers who coordinate the effort of different groups of project participants;
  • Licensed architects and engineers who provide building design and prepare construction documents;
  • 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, facade engineers, building physics, Telecomms, 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.
  • Landscape architects;
  • Interior designers;
  • Other consultants;
  • Contractors who provide construction services and install building systems such as climate control, electrical, plumbing, Decoration, fire protection, security and telecommunications;
  • Marketing or leasing agents;
  • Facility managers who are responsible for operating the building.

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 funding

Building services

Physical plant

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

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.

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
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 accidents[12] such as storms, explosions, subsidence caused by mining, water withdrawal[13] or poor foundations and landslides.[14] Buildings also may suffer from fire damage[15] and flooding in special circumstances. They may also become dilapidated through lack of proper maintenance or alteration work improperly carried out.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Max J. Egenhofer (2002). Geographic Information Science: Second International Conference, GIScience 2002, Boulder, CO, USA, September 25–28, 2002. Proceedings. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 110. ISBN 978-3-540-44253-0.
  2. ^ Building def. 2. Whitney, William Dwight, and Benjamin E. Smith. The Century dictionary and cyclopedia. vol. 1. New York: Century Co., 1901. 712. Print.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Paul Francis Wendt and Alan Robert Cerf (1979), Real estate investment analysis and taxation, McGraw-Hill, p. 210
  6. ^ "World's oldest building discovered". BBC News. 2000-03-01. Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  7. ^ Peter Hadfield (Nov 18, 2000). "Fraud means Japan must rewrite its history". New Scientist: 6. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29.
  8. ^ Peter Hadfield (Mar 4, 2000). "Gimme shelter". New Scientist: 4. Archived from the original on 2015-05-09.
  9. ^ Rob Dunn (Aug 23, 2014). "Meet the lodgers: Wildlife in the great indoors". New Scientist: 34–37. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29.
  10. ^ "plans to convert housing complex". Archived from the original on 2017-01-10. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  11. ^ "isye building complex". Archived from the original on 2017-01-03.
  12. ^ "Building Damage". Archived from the original on 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  13. ^ 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. doi:10.1080/15732479.2010.519710. ISSN 1573-2479.
  14. ^ Soldato, Matteo Del; Bianchini, Silvia; Calcaterra, Domenico; Vita, Pantaleone De; Martire, Diego Di; Tomás, Roberto; Casagli, Nicola (2017-07-12). "A new approach for landslide-induced damage assessment". Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk. 0 (2): 1524–1537. doi:10.1080/19475705.2017.1347896. ISSN 1947-5705.
  15. ^ 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. doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2013.10.012.

External links

  • The dictionary definition of building at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Buildings at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Building at Wikiquote
This page was last edited on 18 March 2019, at 18:25
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