Every building has a foundation, walls, roof, flooring and many other common elements. But, this doesn’t mean that all buildings are the same. They can be classified or grouped into different types based on different factors such as the size, the height, the life and more. 

Buildings are mainly differentiated based on the activities that take place in it or for the purpose, it has been occupied. This type of classification is known as “Classification of buildings based on the type of occupancy”. It is the most basic type of classification which we can easily observe around us. In fact, all of us do use this type of classification in our daily life. For example, we use the term residential building for the place where we sleep and accommodate to perform most of our daily activities and; we use the term educational buildings for our schools, colleges and universities.


There is no proper documentation found between the prehistoric period and the modern period about the classification of the building types. However, we can observe from various writings and existing monuments that there were different types of buildings being used for different purposes. A very basic example to prove this is the existence of castles, temples, churches, mosques, tombs which are completely used for different purposes. We can even observe different types of buildings being used in one of the earliest civilisation on the Earth i.e; in Mesopotamia.  

So, even though there were different types of buildings, but no proper documentation is available until this study has been enhanced by a French author, teacher and architect J.N.L Durand in his famous books in the 18th century. 


The study and documentation of a building having similarities in their type of function or form are referred to as Building Typology.

Factors influencing the classification of buildings

Classification of Buildings can be done 

  1. based on various factors like the type of occupancy as residential, commercial, assembly etc., 
  2. based on the life of the structure like permanent, semi-permanent and temporary. 

The type of buildings are also derived from simple factors, as follows: 

  1. Classification based on the size such as small, medium; 
  2. based on the materials used for walls like brick masonry, stone masonry and block masonry etc. 
  3. based on the type of the roofs like slope roof, flat roof; 
  4. based on the height as High rise buildings or low rise buildings. 

The main application of building typology

The basic use of Building typology is that it can describe the aesthetical or functional features of a building in a single word. But, there are even more applications of building typology in the study of architecture and civil engineering. We have provided detailed information about how the study of Building typology equips us with a lot of support for planning or designing in the following post.

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