Simple 3D Buildings

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This page describes tags for basic 3D attributes of buildings.

The following tagging methods are results of the 2nd 3D Workshop Garching, where most 3D developers agreed on supporting a unified subset of tags in their programs. Basically we describe the volume of a building using two types of areas. Building outlines for the most general area of a complex building and building parts, to describe esp. parts with different height or other attributes.

Building outline

Two building:part areas within a building area

The building outline is represented as an area tagged with building=*. It's the area of land, or footprint, covered by any part of the building. Other tags that refer to the entire building (e.g., address) have to be tagged on this building outline, too. One building should have only one building=* outline, several buildings can not be overlapped.

Building parts

If some parts of the building=* have different attributes (e.g., height), they can be modelled as additional areas, tagged with building:part=yes or building:part=type of building:part.

Note that if a building=* contains at least one area tagged as building:part=*, the building outline is no longer considered for volume rendering.

There are three ways to use the area of building=* for 3D Rendering in this case:

  • Cover the whole outline with building:part=yes areas. These areas may overlap each other or may be disjunct, which depends on the actual building.
    Avoid using building:parts with overlapping 3D volumes if possible, especially if the volumes would have common faces.
  • Use building:part=yes only for those parts, which differ from the overall building.
    This case requires a building relation where the building=* outline has the role : outline and the parts building:part=* have the role : part.
  • Split the building into horizontal slices (floors stacked on top of each other) and add to each part building:levels=*, building:min_level=*, height=*, min_height=* tags.

Building relation

A relation tagged with type=building groups building outline and all building parts together. It is highly recommended to use the relation if there is at least one building part. Otherwise an application has to fall back to search for building parts only within the area of the building outline. See also User:Aschilli/ProposedRoofLines#Building_Relation for proposals of further details.

Tags for buildings outlines and parts

The following tags can be used on both building outlines and building parts.


schematic example of level and height tagging
Key Comment
height=* Distance between the lowest possible position with ground contact and the top of the roof of the building, excluding antennas, spires and other equipment mounted on the roof.
min_height=* Approximate height below the building structure.

Note that when min_height is used, height is still defined as the distance from the ground to the top of the structure. So "bridge" with 3 meters height, where bottom part of the bridge is positioned 10 meters above ground level will have min_height=10, height=13.

building:levels=* Number of floors of the building above ground (without levels in the roof), to be able to texture the building in a nice way.

If you tag new buildings, try to give a height value. Try to use building:levels=* only in addition to an height tag!

building:min_level=* levels skipped in a building part, analogous to min_height


You can characterize the building roof using a catalogue of well known roof types. Additional roof shapes may be introduced later (S3DB_Proposals), including advanced approaches for manual modelling (e.g., User:Aschilli/ProposedRoofLines or parts of OSM-4D/Roof_table).

Image Roof0 0.jpg Roof1 0.jpg Roof2 0.jpg Roof2 3.jpg Roof2 4.jpg Roof2 5.jpg Roof4 0.jpg Roof4 2.jpg Roof5 6.jpg Roof8.jpg Roof5 0.jpg Roof3 1.jpg
roof:shape flat skillion gabled half-hipped hipped pyramidal gambrel mansard dome onion round saltbox
Key Comment
roof:orientation=along/across For roofs with a ridge the ridge is assumed to be parallel to the longest side of the building (roof:orientation=along). But it can be tagged explicitly with this tag.
roof:height=* roof height in meters
roof:angle=* Alternatively to roof:height=*, roof height can be indicated implicitly by providing the inclination of the sides (in degrees).
roof:levels=* Number of floors within the roof, which are not already counted in building:levels=*.
roof:direction=* direction from back side of roof to front, i.e. the direction towards which the main face of the roof is looking

Again, some roofs (e.g., square buildings) cannot be accurately modelled with the simple techniques described on this page.


Key Comment
building:colour=* Colour of the building facade. See colour=* for possible values.
roof:colour=* Colour of the building roof. See colour=* for possible values.
building:material=* Outer material for the building facade.
roof:material=* Outer material for the building roof.

Demo areas

3D examples

To make it as easy as possible for the community, we started added details already to the following:

Location OpenStreetMap (2D) OSM2World (3D) OSMBuildings (3D) F4 Map(3D) OpenScienceMap
Passau (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Graz 1 (AT) Link Link Link Link Link
Graz 2 (AT) Link Link Link Link Link
Rostock Südstadt (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Hagen (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Karlsruhe 1(GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Karlsruhe 2 (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Köthen 1 (GER) Link Link-2 Link Link-2 Link Link-2 Link Link-2 Link Link-2
Coburg (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Las Vegas (US) Link Link Link Link Link
London (GB) Link Link Link Link Link
New York (US) Link Link Link Link Link
Phoenix (US) Link Link Link Link Link
Syracuse (US) Link Link Link Link Link
Leipzig (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Bremen (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Schwerin (GER) Link Link Link Link Link
Chicago (US) Link Link Link Link Link
Helsinki (FIN) Link Link Link Link Link
Warszawa (PL) Link (no rendering) Link Link Link
Kraków (PL) Link Link Link Link
Moscow(RU) Link Link Link Link
Batticaloa(Sri Lanka) Link Link Link Link
Rijswijk (NL) Link Link Link Link

Example Models


Diagram of the main architectural elements that make up a pitched roof

An image can help to understand some architectural terms.

Tool support

The following 3D tools make use of this new schema: