Proposed features/building

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The Feature Page for this approved proposal is located at Key:building.

This is an historic page, see page Buildings for up-to-date information on mapping buildings.

Status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: Ewmjc
Tagging: building=various
Rendered as: See subpage
Drafted on:
Proposed on: 2007-12-31
RFC start: 2007-12-31
Vote start: 2007-07-25


Modified Proposal

I would like to see this promoted to the Map Features page. I and other already using it and it is being rendered. In the light of current usage and the comments made below I propose the following for voting yes or no:

1) We introduce a building= tag key for marking buildings.

2) building=yes will be the only formal tag value

3) Mappers may also define their own values. Renderers are free to support these or just treat them as synonyms for building=yes.

4) Map Features will have a link to a Building page. Mappers will be free to contribute suggested tag value schemes on that page.

Original Proposal with value set

This is NOT part of the modified proposal

Key Value Element Comments Part of this proposal [1]
building yes Node Area Use Building attributes yes
building apartments Node Area A residential building containing many apartments (not just a house converted into flats) yes
building barn Node Area yes
building block Node Area eg office block, block of flats yes
building brewery Node Area no
building castle Node Area Historic castle. preferably not too ruined... Consider whether historic=castle is better when you're tagging. yes
building church Node Area Church or temple... Consider adding religion=* and denomination=* and heritage=*. no
building convent Node Area A community of nuns, historic or in use. Considering adding historic=* metadata for ruins or convents no longer in use. See also monastery below. no
building city_hall Node Area Consider whether amenity=townhall fits better when tagging. yes
building detached Node Area A residential building that stands alone. NOTE: building=house, below, might be less ambiguous. Consider giving a house name or number using the Karlsruhe schema too. yes
building factory Node Area An industrial facility for manufacture of goods. See also landuse=industrial. no
building glasshouse Node Area For growing plants, usually in nurseries or large horticultural centres rather than little greenhouses in gardens and on allotments. yes
building hall Node Area eg Parliament, churches (add label use= for civic etc) yes
building house Node Area Alternative to detached (above). Consider giving a house name or number using the Karlsruhe schema too. no
building hut Node Area in villages no
building monastery Node Area A community of monks. See also convent above; the same considerations about historic=* should apply. no
building monument Node Area Consider using the established historic=monument or historic=memorial as well (or instead). building=monument is good for very large monuments you can currently walk around in. yes
building oast_house Node Area A building for drying hops in preparation for the brewing process. See wikipedia:Oast house. yes
building office Node Area no
building palace Node Area A large building made for royalty or aristocracy which may be inhabited or available for people to visit no
building pavilion Node Area For example a cricket pavilion. NOTE: 'clubhouse' might be better: see below for discussion. yes
building semi Node Area (I.e. "semi-detached") A residential building comprising two houses attached on one wall yes
building shed Node Area Small wooden shack-like structures, for tool storage or similar. yes
building stadium Node Area Sports stadium, amphitheatre, etc. leisure=stadium is probably more established. yes
building store Node Area Out-of-town supermarket, department store, corner shop, etc. Consider adding shop=supermarket, shop=convenience or whatever to say what type of shop it is. yes
building terrace Node Area Residential buildings attached to one another yes
building tower Node Area eg 1 Canada Sq, Docklands yes
building train_station Node Area e.g. See Kings cross on osmarender layer. It should probably encloses a railway=station and perhaps other transport nodes (if it's active). yes
building warehouse Node Area A building for storage. See also landuse=commercial and landuse=industrial. yes


tiles@home Osmarender layer already renders some all all of the above. more details?

Ideas: Choose a colour for buildings. Use different shadings for different types of buildings. Or use shades of teracotta for traditional buildings and shades of grey for towers, blocks of flats warehouses, and hashed for glasshouses possibly with a plant symbol.

Opinion (on original proposal)

  • I've been experimenting with a building= tag already and think it would be an extremely useful addition. Here are some comments based on experience:
  • I suggest changing pavilion to the broader clubhouse - this would encompasss both pavilions and large facilities such as golf clubhouses as well as non-sporting facilities such as Scout and Guide huts. It would also be more understandable internationally.
  • How about just house instead of detached ? I've been using this experimentally for individual residences in rural areas (as landmarks) and for buildings of note, usually historical, in towns.
  • terrace is an interesting one. Here where I am currently mapping in Yorkshire, UK, there are many instances of terraced houses bearing an address in additiion to the street they are on, for example "Peel Terrace, Ilkley Road". I've been experimentally marking these as a linear way since the start and end of a terrace can be easily determined and waymarked in a GPS trace but not how far back they go. However, in the OSM mailing list Robert Hart points out that mixing linear and area ways would cause problems for rendering. More discussion gratefully received.

MikeCollinson 14:52, 2 May 2007 (BST)

  • Yep, good ideas. For terraced would there also need to be a key/value saying the number of houses along that way? If so, then if there is just a house tag, then if a 'number of' tag is added to that 1 area, then detached/semi/terraced can be worked out from that. Also, if the street has addional names for the houses either side should they not in some way be linked to the road still so a routeplanner doesn't just cruize by without telling you the are there, and it could also find a route to them? Ben 16:41, 2 May 2007 (BST)
House rather than detached makes sense. With terraces I'd go with an area, even if it's not accurate, and I'd add a note saying as much so it can be corrected later on using aerial photography or closer surveying. With the pavilion entry my only qualm is that I'm used to seeing "Pavilion" written on maps and, well, clubhouse makes me think of golf or, well, golf :-) Perhaps if I could just add a rendered name=pavilion for my own sanity! TomChance 18:48, 6 May 2007 (BST)
I like Ben's idea of ditching terrace and using building=house, number_of=15 as long as approximate numbers are ok where the number of dwellings is largish. Extending the concept, it could be used for apartments as well? building=dwelling could be used for ALL places where people live. If number_of is ommitted, it is a detached residence. Route planning software could then simply be extended to look for dwelling tags, perhaps filtering out anything at number_of=2 or lower to keep volume down. Thinking about it, I lived in an apartment block complex called "The Quadrant" in Sydney with perhaps 400 units; it would be absurd to leave that out of route planning software but include a terrace of perhaps 10 houses. MikeCollinson 11:28, 11 June 2007 (BST)
And, yes, I understand Tom's sentiment about clubhouses. pavilion makes me thing of cricket, or, well, cricket! :-) I was trying to think of category names that could start to cover every building imagineable, in all parts of the world, with the shortest possible list. So some sort of name for a place from which sporting/non-sporting clubs and societies operate might be good. is a good example of how to get it nearly right yet hopelessly wrong (to be fair it because of the historic US army indexing system used). As far as I can tell, you can tag something as a Phosphate Works but cannot just tag a Chemical Plant. Even if I'm wrong on that one, I found it very frustrating to use as I felt I was constantly forcing square buildings into round holes. MikeCollinson 11:28, 11 June 2007 (BST)

Tagging building=house for individual houses implies that the eventual aim might be to tag every building. I see the attraction of this for a small village where you want to create a really complete attractive looking map, but it feels a bit over the top for somewhere like London (where I'm mapping). I guess that's not a problem though. After all there's quite a few other Map Features for which it isn't really practical to tag them all in London. Classifying different types of shops for example. Maybe we'll acheive that level of completion eventually (if wiki style casual contributions really take off) but in the meantime it's more useful and productive to concentrate mapping efforts on getting the roads in place. Each to their own.

But I do think building tags are useful for some things, even at the first mapping pass. For example Kings Cross station looks a lot better, and makes more sense to look at, now it has big building area tagged.

I would approve of promoting this building key onto the Map Features page, but maybe we need to think about just how many of these itty-bitty possible values we need. Are we wasting people's time by suggesting that all that detail should be collected while mapping? The other thing is, if people do tag individual houses in London (getting enthusiastic about one particular area), and the renderers show them, then we get an awkward imbalance in the level of completion. this estate in hackney for example, it's a great bit of detail, but map of the whole area ends up looking at bit odd.

-- Harry Wood 10:26, 17 September 2007 (BST)

Now that's the kind of casual contribution I'm talking about! (above). The result is excellent it has to be said. Maybe we should make a start on every building London. But how bored d'you have to be, to sit and draw every building over the Yahoo! Aerial Imagery like this? :-)
-- Harry Wood 15:34, 3 April 2008 (BST)

In Bulgaria the addresses in large cities use neighbourhood name, apartment building number and entrance number. Having a building tag we can make an area for the building along with name tag for the building number, then on the area we can map as points the entrances. That way navigation software can find the required address. Also shown on the map the building can be easily distinguished. For example take a look at this map. As you can see half the streets don't even have names and the rest use numbers. --Groupsky 07:35, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm entrance numbers hey? Well I notice this relations proposal: Relations/Proposed/Buildings provides for adding entrances as nodes. -- Harry Wood 10:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I (toralf) definitely support the proposal of a building=yes tag, since I can imagine several useful applications. Especially when it is not a dense area, e.g. when you have to navigate in this area, these buildings help to orientate yourself. In cities these rendered buildings attract a certain attention - which is known from other maps - and I like it, since it helps me to orientate myself in a city.

At the same time this new tag introduces some overlap with other tags that support areas. These are:

  • amenities: public_building, school, university, college, hospital
  • leisure: sports_centre, stadium
  • shop: supermarket
  • man_made (only for nodes): works, gasometer, power_xxx, tower
  • historic (only for nodes): castle, monument, memorial, museum

To my understanding these areas tags could be used to represent the land area used (e.g. campus), not specifically for the building(s). To solve the issue if the building is meant, I would suggest to change the rendering of these areas as if they would represent the land used. With time these anomalies will get fixed. Then all buildings on any land must have the area tag building, removing the redundancy.

Regrading all the other values for a building tag besides "yes", I suggest that only buildings of common interest, reasonable large size or special noteworthiness in respect to the surrounding area get a special tag. All the rest of building would simply be "=yes", more information could be given in the description or name tag. Buildings with special tags for me are:

  • Common interest: public_building, school, university, college, hospital, library, train_station, castle/palace, city_hall, stadium, terminal,
  • Reasonable large size: works, mall/large_store/large_warehouse, hall
  • Special noteworthiness in respect to the surrounding area: tower (skyscraper), barn (farm), detached, monument, power_plant, gasometer

Some of the suggested tag values could be used for nodes, no need for a building tag:

  • shed/shelter, cave, pavilion

The following tag values are IMHO too specific and detailed for OSM at the moment:

  • apartments, block, oast_house, semi, glasshouse

Conclusion: I would appreciate a building=yes tag. Most buildings could be mapped with this and the help of the name and description tag. Only a few buildings could be granted a special tag.

Toralf 18:06, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Actually I'm now thinking we should just stick with building=yes. Can't we use other keys such as amenity=school, to describe what type of building it is? (on the same closed way).
I guess either way we should promote building=yes onto the Map Features page. I think that's unanimous isn't it? Anyone not like the tag building=yes?
-- Harry Wood 10:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it's a fairly simple proposal that no-one should disagree with. All the detail should go in Building attributes --Milliams 13:57, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
  • are we mapping form (shape) or function here? a decision needs to be made, otherwise we will have overlapping ambiguous tags. i think other tags define function, and this one should therefore be used to define form only. for instance, a warehouse and a supermarket will appear very similar, so they should have the same tag when it comes to mapping physical appearance. there is already a tag for supermarkets and warehouses, why develop another which exactly mirrors it? Myfanwy 22:18, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
I completely agree. We should think about this tag as a counterpart to area=yes tag, of course a building has an area but with roof and walls :) So to use area or building to distinguish the form (shape) and thereafter add as many tags as needed for the function(s) it carries out! Emilio 11:27, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

IMO we need a classification for buildings also to draw unimportant buildings less emphasized then important ones. In areas with arial images some villages have a building for every house, even residential ones. But in a touristic map one might want to hide these buildings. For this purpose a even coarser classification would be useful, e.g. residential, commercial, industrial, shop, historic. --Grungelborz 20:01, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Value Pavilion

A suggestion above was to use 'clubhouse' in preference to 'pavilion'. I would suggest that this assumes a narrow definition of 'pavilion'. I am in need of marking a gazebo in a public park, find that this value has not been discussed and that 'pavilion' would be a proper broader-term replacement for 'gazebo'. --Ceyockey 11:40, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Opinion (on modified "no attributes" proposal)

I like it, it allows an easy way to tag a building without having to worry about the building type. As I said before, having this simple tag makes perfect sense and renderers can additionally use Building attributes if they want. --Milliams 23:42, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Votes (on original proposal)

  • I agree with the general principle of using 'building' as a key. The set of values proposed above are a good start too. Frankie Roberto 09:17, 25 July 2007 (BST)
  • I agree with the general principle of using 'building' as a key, although now I'm thinkingonly building=yes rather than building=building type -- Harry Wood 10:28, 17 September 2007 (BST)
  • I agree with using 'building=whatever'. However, I disagree with having a complex set of values (Proposed features/Building attributes fit the role better). Ivansanchez 10:49, 17 September 2007 (BST)
  • I agree to this, in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes sandos 20:31, 15 October 2007 (BST)
  • I agree to this, in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --EdoM (lets talk about it) 07:05, 23 October 2007 (BST)
  • I agree to this --Geoff 18:01, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree to this with or without the Buildings attributes --chillly 16:10, 29 November 2007 (BST)
  • I agree with using 'building=something' but disagree with having a complex set of values, especially if they are in conflict with already existing tags. I would also appreciate that someone moves at least the tag 'building=yes' into the "Map features" page because I see it more and more often --Pieren 13:15, 30 November 2007 (BST)
  • I agree to this --Groupsky 07:39, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree to a building=yes tag. Most buildings could be mapped with this and the help of the name and description tag. Only a few buildings could be granted a special tag. See my above opinion. Toralf 18:07, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I disagree with adding more specific tags to "building" because there is too much overlap with existing keys. It would make more sense to add "building=yes" to existing keys to specify that it is a building, if this is necessary. Andrewpmk 19:04, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree to a building=yes tag. amenity aso are a good addition. 12:57, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree to this with or without the Buildings attributes. --Bahnpirat 13:31, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree to a building=yes tag and special tags where necessary. --Jonnybob 06:22, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with both building=yes and building=whatever. --Robx 14:04, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
  • i agree a building tag is needed, and this is a good start, however we need to decide whether we are going to tag the physical aspect of the building, or it's use. e.g. train_station tells me nothing about the actual physical aspects of the building, only what it is used for; whereas glasshouse describes what it looks like, but not it's use - this is inconsistent Myfanwy 22:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --Ckruetze 21:53, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --EdoM (lets talk about it) 23:01, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --Etric Celine 23:30, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree to this with or without the Buildings attributes. --Stefan 01:04, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --Miskellaneous 15:44, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with both building=yes and building=whatever.--Vrabcak 22:37, 27 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --dieterdreist 16:17, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes --Milliams 15:53, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal.--Master 21:26, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree on building=yes, about Buildings attributes I see really useful only the height and roof tags for 3D purposes! Emilio 12:06, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with both building=yes and building=whatever.--MikeCollinson 19:34, 5 July 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with both building=yes and building=whatever.-- [[[User:Lawgon|Lawgon]] 11:55, 1 August 2008 (UTC)]

First attempt on counting the votes on 2008-11-06 by User:phobie building=*: 16:? building=yes: 14:? Proposed features/Building attributes: 9:?

Since everyone who is for building=yes is against building=* but not the the other way round, building=yes in combination with Proposed features/Building attributes is the most accepted way to go. --Phobie 04:35, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Since the vote has been done, shouldn't this proposal goes in Approved status ? --samusz 13:15, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Didn't realise this wasn't approved. building=anything has been rendered by the main rendering programs for years, and building= tags are commonly used. Landuse=building isn't even required with it any more. I'd say close the page, all have been approved. Ben 13:56, 23 December 2008 (UTC)