- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 26 Mar 2019
Types of structure
Within the context of the built environment, the term ‘structure’ refers to anything that is constructed or built from interrelated parts with a fixed location on the ground. This includes buildings, but can refer to any body that is designed to bear loads, even if it is not intended to be occupied by people (engineers sometimes refer to these as 'non-building' structures – such as bridges, tunnels, and so on).
Structures can be classified in a number of ways:
- Aqueducts and viaducts.
- Cooling towers and chimneys.
- Retaining walls.
- Coastal defences.
- One-dimensional: Ropes, cables, struts, columns, beams, arches.
- Two-dimensional: Membranes, plates, slabs, shells, vaults, domes, synclastic, anticlastic.
- Three-dimensional: Solid masses.
- Composite. A combination of the above.
- Metal: Steel, aluminium and so on.
- Masonry: Brick, block, stone and so on.
- Shell and core.
- Structural frame.
- Wall: loadbearing walls, compartment walls, external walls, retaining walls.
See Elements of structure in buildings for more information.
Overall building form:
- High rise.
- Hyperbolic paraboloid.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Civil engineer.
- Elements of structure in buildings
- Institution of Civil Engineers.
- Institution of Structural Engineers IStructE.
- Structural engineer.
- Structural principles.
- The development of structural membranes.
- Types of beam.
- Types of building.
- Types of column.
- Types of wall.
- Types of structural load.
Featured articles and news
Achieving sustainable roads funding in England.
Your chance to comment on the draft BS 851188 - flood resistance products and flood protection products.
Rebuilding could take 20 to 40 years.
RSHP’s high-rise residential towers win a tall buildings award for excellence.
BSRIA study reveals strong growth in 2018.
Dame Judith Hackitt confirmed as keynote speaker – one year on from the Hackitt Report.
Save £100 on tickets.
Modern slavery in the construction sector.
What to bear in mind when claiming damages in construction.
How do we achieve sustainable clean-water infrastructure for all?
What you should know when appointing an architect.
A brief history plus some new developments.
How computational fluid dynamics (CFD) helps building design.