13 Types of Buildings and Structure Classifications Used Throughout the World

Society is complex and as a result many different types of buildings are need for all kinds of purposes and functions. We organize this information into an easy to scroll list of the different building classifications with photo examples.
- Advertisement -

Buildings at dusk in city of Vancouver, BC Canada

Are you curious as to all the different types and classifications of buildings?

You’re not the only one.  Well over 1,000 people search for this information every month (which surprised me).  Since it was such a popular topic, we thought we’d jump in and do something different than the other articles on the similar topic – and that is include plenty of photo examples.

Here’s our version.

Office Buildings

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Tallest building in the world (for now).

When it comes to buildings dedicated to office space, there really aren’t all that many different types of office buildings.  Your main options are as follows.

Office towers

I love office buildings, especially towers.  I work in one in downtown Vancouver.  2.5 years ago when I set out to find a small office space downtown, I was very lucky to find space in the famous Marine Building.  While once the tallest building in the world coming in at 18 storeys, it’s now short for an office building.  60 storey office towers are not uncommon in many cities throughout the world.

Walk-up

Many smaller towns build smaller office buildings because there isn’t demand for hundreds of office spaces in a 40 storey tower.  Instead, they build 2, 3 or 4-floor buildings.  While I call them walk-up, they do have elevators.

Residential Buildings

Luxury detached single family home in Vancouver BC

Detached single family home in Vancouver, BC.

While the detached single family home is likely the first type of residential building that comes to mind, there are many different types of residential buildings.

We put together an extensive list of all the different types of houses here and residential architectural styles here.

The most common include:

  • Detached single-family
  • Townhouse
  • Apartment
  • Condominium

Retail Buildings

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont

Retail buildings can be single shop or multi-shop structures.  Here are the different types of retail buildings you find in most towns and cities.

Shops/Boutiques/Services

By shops, boutiques and services, I’m referring to single business buildings that house a retail outlet or service-based business. Consider a vacuum store, realtor office, dentist, etc.

Big Box

We all know the big box retailers that have pretty much taken over brick and mortar retail over the last 20 years.  These are the huge retail stores that cover all kinds of stuff within a particular sector.  Think Home Depot, Walmart, Costco, Staples, etc.

Malls

Malls come in the strip mall and indoor mall variety.  There are also outdoor malls in warmer climates.  A mall is a building that houses multiple businesses and services in one place.  The concept is to create a place that attracts more people on account of having a large group and variety of stores, retailers and services.

Hospitality Buildings

The Westin Resort pool and cabana at sunset in Princeville on the tropical island of Kauai in Hawaii

The Westin Resort pool and cabana at sunset in Princeville on the tropical island of Kauai in Hawaii. We stayed here during Spring Break in 2018. Great place!!

By hospitality buildings, I’m referring to structures built to house and/or feed people.  These are often stand-alone buildings except for hotels often include restaurants.  Here are the different types of hospitality buildings.

  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Resorts
  • Bed and Breakfasts
  • Hostels
  • Restaurants

Multi-Purpose Buildings

John Hancock building on Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL

John Hancock building on Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL. This building has office space, residential units and retail space. You could theoretically work, shop and live in the building never having to go outside.

A fairly new type of building is what I call a multi-purpose building.  This is a building that incorporates several functions.

Multi-purpose skyscraper

The most common multi-purpose is the skyscraper that includes retail, office, hospitality and residential spaces.

Mall/Office Space

Another multi-purpose building is a mall/office building.  The mall includes a section with offices.  The mall in the town where I grew up had a large section of offices on the second floor.

Institutional Civic Buildings

The Giles County courthouse built in 1909 in historic Pulaski Tennessee

The Giles County courthouse built in 1909 in historic Pulaski, Tennessee.

Most towns and cities have one or many civic buildings that are built to serve the community in some capacity.  Most are owned by the government, but not all.  For examples, not all hospitals are owned by the government.

Here’s a brief list of the various types of civic buildings.

  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Libraries
  • Community centers
  • Museum
  • Courthouses
  • Police/Fire
  • Prisons
  • Post office

Gathering Buildings

Camp Nou Stadium in the football match between Futbol Club Barcelona and Granada of the Spanish League on November 23, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain

Camp Nou Stadium in the football match between Futbol Club Barcelona and Granada of the Spanish League on November 23, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain

Not every town has a stadium, arena and/or theater.  Most cities do though.

Vancouver, where I live, we enjoy a full-size covered stadium, two arenas, many theaters and auditoriums … and Vancouver isn’t a huge city.  These are venues that host sporting events, concerts, various shows (i.e. home shows, auto shows, boat shows), etc.

Here are the different types of gathering or assembly style buildings.

  • Stadiums
  • Arenas
  • Theaters
  • Auditoriums
  • Conference centers

Religious Buildings

Aerial view of Montpelier, Vermont

Aerial view of Montpelier, Vermont which includes a beautiful old church with towering steeple.

At first, I planned to put religious buildings under “gathering buildings” but then it occurred to me religious buildings have their own sub-categories and serve a different purpose than mere gathering or assmbly type buildings.

Examples of different types of religious buildings include:

  • Church
  • Temple
  • Mosque
  • Cathedral
  • Monastery
  • Synagogue

Educational Buildings

The University of Toronto and the Front Campus

The University of Toronto and the Front Campus in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Educational buildings are schools.  Most towns have one or more.  There are many types of schools.  The main ones are:

  • Pre-school
  • Elementary
  • Middle
  • High School
  • College
  • University
  • Technical

Industrial Buildings

Factory in Detroit Michigan

Factory in Detroit Michigan

Many towns have sections zoned for industrial buildings which include manufacturing facilities such as a factory and warehousing facilities.  Some are small while others are huge.

Arguably, infrastructure buildings fall in this category as well – various types of plants such as power plants, nuclear plants, water treatment plants, etc.

Here’s a brief list of the different types of industrial buildings.

  • Manufacturing plant
  • Factory
  • Warehouse
  • Distribution center
  • Storage facilities
  • Power Plant
  • Water treatment plant
  • Nuclear plant

Agricultural Buildings

big red barn on a farm on the Palouse in eastern Washington

big red barn on a farm on the Palouse in eastern Washington

And yet another building concept are those used in agriculture. These structures usually house animals, but can also store produce and/or food for animals.  Here is a brief list of various types of agricultural buildings.

  • Barns
  • Greenhouses
  • Silos
  • Chicken Coop

Terminals (Transportation Buildings)

MS Island Princess cruise ship docked at the Vancouver Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal

MS Island Princess cruise ship docked at the Vancouver Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal

Airbus A320 Aeroflot VQ-BCM taxiing to terminal after landing at Sheremetyevo international airport at sunrise in Moscow

Airbus A320 Aeroflot VQ-BCM taxiing to terminal after landing at Sheremetyevo international airport at sunrise in Moscow

Many different types of structures are designed and built to facilitate travel.  Broadly speaking, they’re terminals that serve all kinds of transportation methods.  Here are the main types of terminals:

  • Ferry
  • Airport
  • Train
  • Bus

Recreational Buildings

Picture taken in a climbing center in Quebec, Canada

Picture taken in a climbing center in Quebec, Canada

If you’re lucky, your town offers recreational buildings where you can engage in various activities and/or be entertained.  I’m a big user of recreational buildings including our local public swimming pool, indoor trampoline park, indoor climbing gym and a nearby fitness center.

Here’s an overview listing some of the different types of recreational buildings.

  • Fitness centers
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor climbing gyms
  • Ice Rinks
  • Public swimming pools
  • Indoor trampoline parks

 








Add Comment