- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 12 Dec 2020
Defining different building levels is a way to analyse buildings by breaking them down into successively smaller or simpler units, e.g. into elements, components and materials.
However, depending on the purpose of the analysis, buildings can be broken down in various ways, e.g. by functional, physical, legal or economic characteristics. Accordingly, a common terminology could not be developed.
Whenever the deconstruction of a building into successively smaller parts is proposed or adopted, further clarification will be indispensable. Only for the levels ‘building’ and ‘material’ could a general definition be found. The levels in-between both vary according to the purpose.
The necessary clarification should not only present the introduced hierarchy and the different levels it includes. Also, the characteristics that determine to which level a certain assembly or part belongs should be defined unambiguously.
Because of the consistent interpretation of their meaning throughout different domains, the use of terms ‘part’ and ‘assembly’ is encouraged. Nevertheless, for both terms it is useful to clarify whereof and of what the considered unit is a part or assembly. After all, every unit can be a part of a larger part and the assembly of several smaller assemblies at the same time. For instance, a window, an assembly of parts such as glass panes and aluminium profiles, is only a part of the building façade.
It is impossible to define unambiguously the however frequently used terms ‘component’ and ‘element’. If these terms would be used for one or more specific purposes, a corresponding definition should be provided in this common language.
Building: construction providing space to persons, their activities or belongings. Generally, it is a complicated assembly of building materials.
Material, building ∼: a raw material or bulk product used to construct buildings, e.g. lime, sand, clay and cement, as well as wood, concrete, natural stone and bricks, zinc, glass, stucco, paint and so on.
Part, building ∼: a subdivision of a more complicated entity. It is advised to state of what entity the described subdivision is a part; not just “a part”, but “a part of…”.
Assembly, building ∼: a group of less complex entities. It is advised to state of what entities the described group is an assembly; not just “an assembly”, but “an assembly of…”.
System, building ∼: a group of less complex entities characterised by a specific relation describing how the constitutive parts (can) work together or how they are connected, as in ‘open building systems’.
Haslinghuis E. and Janse H. (1997) Bouwkundige termen: verklarend woordenboek van de westerse architectuur-en bouwhistorie. Primavera: Leiden.
ISO (2013) ISO 15686-11 Buildings and constructed assets, Service life planning – Part 11 Terminology. International Organisation for Standardisation
De Troyer F. and Sarja A. (1998). Open and Industrialised Building, A Review of Approaches and a Vision for the Future. E & FN Spon, London.
--BAMB - Buildings As Material Banks 07:56, 15 Aug 2018 (BST)
Featured articles and news
What to do with troublesome statues?
A tricky political issue.
Designing Buildings content from and for its users
Discover more on how simple and quick it is to publish an article.
Recent users articles; Timber and retrofit
Which products, for what reasons.
Recent users articles; Digitally Built Britain
ISO 19650, BIM and data management.
Recent users articles; Interim valuations and payments
Applications, notices ad points to remember.
Recent users articles; What is H-Scaffolding?
Elements, features and areas of use.
Recent users articles; what are NZEBs ?
How do they contribute to Sustainable Development.
The most viewed articles in 2022 on Designing Buildings
Written in the past 6 months, one year and beyond.
Second stairs for new tower blocks
Government launches a 12-week consultation
Happy Festive Holidays to all our users from here at DB
On the first day of Christmas DB for the Industry...
The psychological power of the built environment.
IHBC signpost update from Lords Committee on climate
Government must support behaviour change to meet targets.
Reflecting on 2022 into 2023 with the APM WiPM SIG
Women in Project Management conference 2022.
Types, colours and processing of hydrogen on DB
Grey, green, purple, blue, yellow, turquoise, brown and black.
The Kyoto Protocol a brief reminder on DB
Adopted in 1997, ratified in 2005..
Europe moves to phase out electrical SF6 gas
Sulphur hexafluoride the world’s most potent GHG.
Biomass boiler market on the rise in Europe
Proving to be a driver for decarbonisation targets.