57 Best Ways to Describe Buildings in Writing (+ Examples)

One of the key components of any setting is the buildings within it.

Knowing how to describe buildings can transport your reader right into the world you’ve built.

Here’s how to describe buildings in writing:

Describe buildings in writing by utilizing architectural style, historical periods, materials used, and their cultural significance. Incorporate sensory details like soundscapes and emotional resonance. Highlight unique features, transformations, legends, and personal memories for depth.

In this article, you’ll learn all the ways to describe buildings in your writing.

1. By Historical Period

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Table of Contents

Different historical periods offer a plethora of architectural designs.

When you mention a building from the Renaissance era, the image of grandeur, classic designs, and meticulous details springs to mind.

Similarly, medieval structures might invoke images of castles and fortresses.

Some historical periods to consider are:

  • Ancient: Pyramids, temples, and coliseums.
  • Medieval: Castles, fortresses, and walled towns.
  • Renaissance: Grand manors, theaters, and palaces.
  • Victorian: Ornate houses, large estates, and townhouses.
  • Modern: Skyscrapers, glass-fronted buildings, and minimalist designs.

2. By Material

The building material not only imparts a physical texture to a structure but also offers a tactile feeling to your narrative.

When we describe a structure made of sandstone, readers may visualize its ruggedness and the warmth of its golden-brown hue.

On the other hand, glass skyscrapers evoke modernity and offer a reflection (both literal and metaphorical) of the urban world.

Examples of materials:

  • Brick: Often seen in traditional townhouses. Think of the classic brownstones of New York.
  • Marble: Conjures images of opulent palaces or Greek temples.
  • Wood: Wooden lodges or cabins evoke feelings of nature, simplicity, and coziness.
  • Glass: Mostly seen in modern office buildings or high-rises, suggesting transparency and sleek design.

3. By Height

Height in buildings can be an implicit indication of many things, including the period in which it was built, its function, or the aspirations of its builders.

A towering skyscraper in a business district implies a beacon of commerce and ambition.

In contrast, a quaint, single-story cottage nestled in a village street whispers tales of simplicity and tradition.

The narrative contrast is stark between the dominance of a city’s tallest structure and the humble abode that clings to the ground, embodying a quiet, unassuming charm.

Both have stories to tell, and the tales are as different as the shadows they cast.

4. By Age

Every building, whether ancient or modern, stands as a silent witness to the passage of time.

When describing an old, moss-covered stone building, readers might imagine the countless seasons it has withstood, the generations it has seen, and the myriad stories embedded in its walls.

A newly constructed high-rise, with its shiny facade and contemporary design, hints at a world that’s rapidly evolving, racing towards the future.

It speaks of innovation, of fresh beginnings, and sometimes, of the relentless march of progress that leaves no room for the old.

5. By Function

A building’s function is its heartbeat. It dictates the rhythm of activities inside, the kind of people who frequent it, and the emotions it evokes.

A school, for instance, might resonate with the sounds of children’s laughter, the rustling of books, and the knowledge pursuits.

Examples of functions:

  • Library: A sanctuary of silence, corridors filled with the musky scent of old books, and seekers of knowledge lost in its aisles.
  • Factory: Buzzing with activity, and machinery noise, indicative of industry and production.
  • Barn: Evoking rustic charm, the scent of hay, and the sounds of farm animals.
  • Theater: A world of art, echoing with applause, dramatic performances, and cultural expressions.

6. By Atmosphere

More than its physical attributes, the atmosphere of a building defines its soul.

It’s the difference between a church’s hallowed silence, which commands reverence, and the bustling, lively cacophony of a market square teeming with life.

While the exterior might give a hint, it’s the interior atmosphere of a building that truly draws a reader in.

The interior offers them a seat in its world, whether that’s the tranquility of a remote mountain monastery or the energetic vibe of a downtown jazz club.

7. By Surroundings

More than its physical attributes, the atmosphere of a building defines its soul.

Buildings don’t exist in isolation.

They’re part of a larger tableau. Describing the surroundings sets the stage.

A lone manor at the edge of a dark forest might evoke mystery and intrigue, while the same manor overlooking a serene lake offers tranquility.

Context, in essence, is a silent storyteller.

It provides clues about the building’s purpose, its history, and its relationship with its environment.

The quaint bookshop squeezed between two modern cafes speaks of resilience amidst change.

Just as a historic monument amidst skyscrapers stands as a reminder of the city’s rich past.

8. By Color

Colors are a palette of emotions.

Describing a building’s color is akin to painting its mood.

The pastel hues of a coastal villa might convey a laid-back, beachy vibe.

Meanwhile, the monochrome shades of an urban structure suggest sobriety and functionality.

Whether it’s the radiant gold of a palace under the sun, the deep blue of a nighttime diner, or the rusty red of an old barn, colors breathe life into descriptions, making them vivid and evocative.

9. By Size

Size can be both a physical measure and a psychological one.

A sprawling mansion, with its many rooms and vast lawns, can indicate grandeur and opulence.

On the other hand, a small, compact house might not be grand, but it could brim with warmth and coziness.

It’s about the space, its utilization, and the feeling it imparts.

Does the vastness of a castle make one feel lost, or does it evoke a sense of awe? Does the confined space of an attic room feel claustrophobic, or does it exude intimacy?

10. By Architectural Style

Every architectural style brings with it a set of aesthetics, principles, and histories.

A Gothic cathedral, with its pointed arches and intricate detailing, is more than just a place of worship

It’s a testament to a particular period of architectural achievement.

Examples of architectural styles:

  • Art Deco: Think of the glamorous 1920s, with ornate details, bold geometric forms, and lavish materials.
  • Brutalist: Characterized by raw, unadorned concrete structures, it often evokes strength and functionality.
  • Colonial: Reminiscent of colonization eras, with large porches, brick facades, and symmetrical designs.
  • Modernist: Simplified forms, open floor plans, and a strong emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines.

11. By Cultural Influences

Every culture has its distinct architectural imprints.

Buildings influenced by a specific culture bring with them a rich tapestry of history, traditions, and artistic nuances.

For instance, a pagoda-style temple immediately brings forth Asian influences, whereas a hacienda-style house could transport readers to the heart of Mexico.

A mosque, with its minarets piercing the sky, intricately designed domes, and calligraphy-laden interiors, speaks of Islamic artistry.

A Mediterranean villa with stucco walls and red-tiled roofs tells tales of sun-kissed coasts and leisurely lifestyles.

12. By State of Repair

The condition of a building can be a rich source of narrative information.

A dilapidated mansion covered in ivy, with broken windows and creaky doors, might hint at long-forgotten stories, neglect, or even hauntings.

In contrast, a well-maintained Victorian house, freshly painted with a manicured lawn, suggests pride, history cherished and sustained.

Structures in ruins, especially historic ones, often feel melancholic, reminding readers of the inexorable march of time.

Meanwhile, buildings under construction are beacons of progress, symbolizing hope, aspirations, and the future.

13. By Decorative Elements

Details matter.

An ornate balcony with wrought-iron railings, statues adorning entrances, or stained glass windows can offer readers visual treats and clues about a building’s history and the aesthetic preferences of its inhabitants or architects.

Examples of decorative elements:

  • Gargoyles: Often found in Gothic structures, these stone creatures serve both decorative and architectural purposes.
  • Frescoes: Painted walls or ceilings, common in Renaissance buildings, depict scenes or stories.
  • Mosaics: Pieces of colored glass or stones arranged to form patterns or images, frequently found in Byzantine architecture.
  • Columns: Pillars that might be Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian, each bringing a different historical and aesthetic layer.

14. By Lighting

Light, both natural and artificial, plays a significant role in setting the mood.

A cathedral bathed in the soft hues of sunlight filtering through stained glass windows offers a kaleidoscope of colors and emotions.

Conversely, an alleyway dimly lit by a lone lamp post might evoke feelings of solitude or mystery.

The glow of lanterns in an old inn or the harsh neon lights of a modern nightclub can drastically alter the way a building is perceived, grounding readers in a specific time or mood.

15. By Acoustics

Beyond the visual, what does a building sound like?

The echo of footsteps in a grand marble hall, the muffled sounds in a carpeted library, or the lively acoustics of a music hall can immerse readers deeper into the setting.

Acoustics can also serve as indicators.

Sound bouncing off the walls of an empty mansion might evoke feelings of loneliness or abandonment.

Buildings like opera houses or concert halls, specially designed for optimal acoustics, not only emphasize the significance of sound but also bear testimony to the architectural marvels dedicated to the art of sound.

16. By User Experience

How does one navigate or experience the building?

A labyrinthine palace with endless corridors and secret chambers can give a sense of mystery.

In contrast, an open-plan modern office emphasizes transparency and collaboration.

The ease or difficulty of navigating a space, the viewpoints offered by balconies or windows, and even the experience of ascending a grand staircase versus taking a modern elevator can offer readers insights into the building’s purpose and the era’s design principles.

17. By Integration with Nature

Some buildings seamlessly integrate with their natural surroundings, while others stand out.

A cottage with walls covered in ivy, almost hidden by the woods around it, offers a different narrative than a steel-and-glass structure stark against a forest backdrop.

Consider a treehouse that becomes one with the canopy or a desert abode designed for optimal cooling.

Either way, the relationship between a building and its environment can be a rich descriptor, highlighting harmony or discord.

18. By Innovations or Anachronisms

Certain structures stand out due to their innovative designs or features that are anachronistic for their time.

An ancient building with ahead-of-its-time water systems, or a futuristic house with solar integrations and smart tech in a traditional neighborhood, can be points of interest.

Such descriptions can surprise the reader, make them curious, or emphasize the uniqueness and significance of a structure.

19. By Symbolic Significance

Beyond their tangible attributes, some buildings hold symbolic meanings.

They might represent power (like a king’s palace), spirituality (like a temple or church), knowledge (like a grand library), or even decay and decline (like ruins).

The symbolic weight of a building can add depth to its description and make it more resonant in the narrative.

20. By Popularity or Notoriety

Lastly, how is the building perceived by the masses?

Is it a famous landmark, a tourist magnet with crowds always milling about?

Or perhaps it’s a notorious structure, shunned by locals due to dark tales or unfortunate histories.

The public’s perception of a building, whether a beloved local bakery or a haunted mansion, can influence its role in the story and shape the readers’ attitudes towards it.

21. By Ornamentation and Artistry

Buildings can be embellished with diverse forms of ornamentation, from intricate carvings to frescoes.

This decor often reflects the cultural and historical contexts, as well as the individual tastes of its creators.

A building adorned with gargoyles and flying buttresses, for example, might point towards Gothic influences.


  • Baroque Churches: Filled with lavish ornamentation, gilded statues, and dramatic frescoes.
  • Indian Temples: Carved with intricate sculptures depicting gods, goddesses, and tales from epics.
  • Art Nouveau Buildings: Characterized by sinuous lines, floral motifs, and harmonious curves.

22. By Patronage or Ownership

The patron or owner of a building can provide essential insights into its style, purpose, and decor.

Palaces built by powerful rulers often reflect their ambitions, tastes, or the political needs of their time.

On the other hand, structures erected by philanthropists might emphasize utility and public welfare.


  • The Medici family in Renaissance Florence sponsored numerous buildings that became masterpieces of their era.
  • The Rockefeller Center in New York, financed by the Rockefeller family, is a beacon of art deco design and urban planning.

23. By Architectural Movement

Every era spawns architectural movements with distinct principles and aesthetics.

Describing a building by its movement aligns it with specific philosophies, materials, and designs.

The minimalist, functional approach of the Bauhaus contrasts with the ornate designs of the Rococo.


  • Bauhaus: Emphasizes functionality and eschews unnecessary ornamentation.
  • Rococo: Known for its playful, whimsical, and intricate designs, often in pastel colors.

24. By Social and Economic Status

Buildings can often depict the socio-economic status of their inhabitants or the region they’re located in.

Mansions, penthouses, and gated communities often exude opulence.

In comparison, slums, tenements, and worker cottages might highlight poverty or the working-class struggles.

Examples: The elegant townhouses of London’s Belgravia versus the narrow, crowded lanes of Dharavi in Mumbai.

25. By Sensory Appeal

Beyond sight, buildings can be described by how they appeal to other senses.

The scent of aged wood in a historic home, the touch of cool marble underfoot in a palace, or the distant sounds echoing through a vast cathedral can make descriptions more immersive.


  • The warm, inviting scent of freshly baked bread from a French bakery.
  • The gentle, rhythmic tapping of rain on a tin-roofed cottage.

26. By Folklore or Legend

Some buildings are shrouded in myths, legends, or local tales.

A castle might be infamous for its ghostly residents, or a historic home might be revered as a hero’s birthplace.

Such tales add depth, intrigue, and cultural context.


  • The legend of the Tower of London’s ravens, suggesting the kingdom’s fall if they ever leave.
  • The lore surrounding Transylvania’s Bran Castle, often linked with the Dracula legend.

27. By Climate Adaptation

Buildings can be designed or modified to adapt to their climatic conditions.

A desert home might have thick walls to keep the interiors cool, while houses in tropical regions might feature wide verandas and high ceilings for ventilation.


  • The igloos of the Arctic, built from blocks of snow.
  • Traditional Arabian homes with wind towers for natural cooling.

28. By Relation to Other Structures

The juxtaposition of a building with its neighboring structures can offer rich contrasts or harmonies.

A medieval church beside a modern mall might highlight the city’s layered history or the interplay of the sacred and the commercial.


  • The Flatiron Building in New York, with its unique triangular shape, set against the backdrop of modern skyscrapers.
  • Rome’s Pantheon, an ancient temple, surrounded by renaissance buildings and modern cafes.

29. By Adaptive Reuse

Old structures might be repurposed for new functions, preserving their history while adapting to contemporary needs.

Warehouses transformed into lofts, churches turned into bookshops, or palaces renovated into hotels.

Transformations show the evolving narratives of buildings.


  • The Tate Modern in London, once a power station.
  • Book and Bed Hostels in Tokyo, combining bookshops with sleeping quarters.

30. By Emotional Resonance

How does a building make one feel?

Describing the emotional response it evokes can be more powerful than detailing its physical attributes.

A derelict asylum might exude eeriness, while a childhood home could evoke nostalgia.


  • The somber, reflective atmosphere of the 9/11 Memorial.
  • The joy and wonder of entering the whimsical world of Gaudí’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona.

31. By Historical Events

Many buildings carry the weight of significant historical events.

These events can cast a long shadow over the building’s atmosphere and its place in society.

For instance, a palace that was the site of a famous treaty signing or an assassination takes on the weight and significance of those events, shaping how one views and describes it.

The mere mention of such a building might evoke a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, filled with the drama and emotion of the past.


  • The Palace of Versailles in France, which witnessed numerous royal dramas and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., forever remembered as the assassination site of President Abraham Lincoln.

32. By Foundation

The foundation of a building is its bedrock, dictating its stability, longevity, and sometimes even its aesthetic appeal.

It speaks volumes about the building’s resilience, design intentions, and the environment it’s in.

Different terrains require different types of foundations.

A building’s foundation can indicate whether it’s designed to withstand earthquakes, floods, or other environmental factors.


  • Stilt homes in flood-prone areas, raised above ground level, showcase the adaptation to the local environment.
  • Buildings in earthquake-prone regions like Japan might have deep foundations and reinforced pillars to absorb shocks.

33. By Roof

Roofs provide shelter but also contribute to a building’s identity.

They often serve as an architectural highlight or adaptation to the climate of a region.

A roof can be symbolic of a region’s architectural history or a practical response to weather conditions. It can be decorative or functional, or both.


  • The distinct pagoda-style roofs in ancient Chinese architecture, with their upturned eaves.
  • Thatched roofs of English cottages, providing insulation and showcasing a rustic charm.

34. By Landscape Integration

How a building integrates or stands out from its surrounding landscape can be a focal point of description.

A mansion atop a hill overlooking a town tells a story of dominance or isolation, while a camouflaged cabin in the woods speaks of retreat and harmony with nature.


  • Machu Picchu in Peru, a stone city seamlessly integrated into the mountainous terrain.
  • Cliffside dwellings like the Hanging Temple in China, defying gravity and blending with the vertical landscape.

35. By Socio-political Context

Architecture often mirrors the socio-political climate of its time.

Structures built during totalitarian regimes might exude power and intimidation, while those from a renaissance period might reflect hope, curiosity, and the human spirit.

Describing buildings within this context can enhance the depth of a story, setting the stage for the characters’ challenges and triumphs.


  • The grandeur of Stalinist architecture, like the Seven Sisters in Moscow, representing power and state dominance.
  • The democratic openness of city halls and public squares in many European cities, symbolizing public participation and freedom.

36. By Architectural Philosophy

Some buildings are constructed based on specific architectural philosophies or principles.

Perhaps the Japanese philosophy of “Wabi-sabi” celebrating imperfection or the Modernist mantra “form follows function.”

These guiding principles can be a unique way to delve into the building’s essence.


  • Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, embodying the philosophy of organic architecture.
  • The grid-like simplicity of De Stijl architecture, as seen in Rietveld Schröder House.

37. By Spiritual or Religious Significance

Many structures are steeped in spiritual or religious significance, making them more than just brick and mortar.

Temples, churches, mosques, and other religious edifices often come loaded with symbolic elements, rituals, and an aura of reverence.


  • The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, with its Gothic spires, rose windows, and religious relics.
  • The intricately carved Jain temples of India, representing non-violence and respect for all living beings.

38. By Reflection of the Times

Architecture can be a mirror to the prevalent trends, technology, and societal values of its era.

A post-war building might carry elements of resilience and simplicity.

Structures from a prosperous era might, instead, exude opulence and flamboyance.


  • Art Deco buildings of the Roaring Twenties, like the Chrysler Building in New York, symbolizing prosperity and technological progress.
  • The austere, functional buildings of post-World War II Europe, reflecting the continent’s recovery phase.

39. By Personal Stories and Anecdotes

Every building might have personal stories or anecdotes linked to it.

These tales, whether of love, tragedy, triumph, or everyday life, can turn a mundane structure into something special.

A house might be remembered for the family feuds it witnessed, or a bridge might be iconic for a legendary love story.


  • The Romeo and Juliet balcony in Verona, believed to be the site of the famous Shakespearean love story.
  • The childhood homes of famous personalities, like Mozart’s Geburtshaus in Salzburg, which tells tales of prodigious talent and early beginnings.

40. By Flooring

Flooring can reflect the luxury, practicality, or cultural elements of a building.

It plays a significant role in interior aesthetics and user comfort.

The choice of flooring material, its texture, and design can say a lot about the purpose of a room and the building’s overall theme.


  • Design: The intricately designed marble floors of palaces, indicating opulence and grandeur.
  • Material: Bamboo or tatami mat flooring in traditional Japanese homes, bringing forth an essence of simplicity and nature.

41. By Urban vs. Rural Setting

The setting of a building, whether in a bustling urban environment or a serene rural backdrop, affects its architecture, materials used, and its overall ambiance.

Urban structures might prioritize vertical expansion and efficient space use.

Rural ones might spread outwards, integrating with nature.


  • The compact, upward-stretching skyscrapers of Manhattan versus the sprawling ranches of Montana.
  • Ancient European farmhouses nestled in valleys versus modern urban apartments with their balconies facing busy streets.

42. By Ecological Impact

With the rising emphasis on sustainability, many buildings are now designed with their ecological footprint in mind.

Consider green roofs and walls to structures entirely powered by renewable energy.

There’s a growing trend towards eco-friendly architecture.


  • The Bullitt Center in Seattle is called the world’s most eco-friendly office building.
  • Ancient cliff dwellings, which utilized natural rock formations to maintain interior temperatures and minimize impact on the environment.

43. By Underground Space

A building’s underground space can reveal hidden functions, histories, or layers of utility that aren’t immediately visible on the surface.

Basements, cellars, underground bunkers, or parking spaces can add layers of mystery, function, or historical depth.


  • Ancient catacombs or crypts beneath churches, like the Catacombs of Paris, harboring history and tales of the departed.
  • Modern skyscrapers with multiple levels of underground parking and utility spaces, showcasing urban space optimization.

44. By Human Interaction

How people interact with a building can be a powerful descriptor.

Are its halls always crowded?

Do children play in its courtyards? Is it a place of solitude or social interaction?

Such descriptions bring the building to life, emphasizing its role in the community.


  • The lively bustle of Grand Central Terminal in New York, with commuters rushing, tourists marveling, and couples reuniting.
  • The tranquil corridors of monasteries, where the only sounds might be the soft footsteps of monks.

45. By Technological Advancements

In the modern age, buildings can be described by the technology they incorporate.

Smart homes, buildings with integrated AI systems, or structures with advanced security systems reflect the advancements of the age.


  • The Edge in Amsterdam, touted as the world’s smartest building, where even the coffee machines are connected to the internet.
  • Historical aqueducts and water systems, showcasing the engineering prowess of ancient civilizations.

46. By Adaptability and Flexibility

Some buildings are designed to be adaptable to different needs over time.

These structures might have movable walls, transformable spaces, or modular designs that can evolve with changing requirements.


  • The Habitat 67 complex in Montreal, where prefabricated modules can be reconfigured.
  • Japanese homes designed with large open spaces that can serve multiple purposes, from living rooms in the day to sleeping areas at night.

47. By Fragrance and Aroma

Though subtle, the distinctive smells associated with certain buildings can paint a vivid picture.

A library’s musty scent, the fresh aroma from a bakery, or the mix of incense in a temple can transport the reader to the location instantly.


  • The cedarwood fragrance permeating ancient temples in Kyoto.
  • The unmistakable scent of chlorine in indoor swimming complexes.

48. By Security Features

Security features can provide insights into the importance, vulnerability, or the treasures a building holds.

It can also reflect the socio-political environment of the locale.

A building heavily fortified indicates its importance or the potential threats it might face, whereas minimal security might indicate peace, openness, or a lack of valuable contents.


  • The Buckingham Palace with its guards, high walls, and surveillance systems, highlighting the importance and the need to protect the monarchy.
  • A quiet, open-plan library in a small town, with just CCTV cameras, showcases the trust in the community and the open access to knowledge.

49. By Mystique and Legends

Every region has its tales, its myths, and sometimes these stories are intrinsically tied to certain structures.

A haunted house, a castle rumored to have hidden treasures, or an inn with tales of historical figures stopping by can add a layer of mystique and depth to the description.


  • The Tower of London, with its many ghostly tales including that of Anne Boleyn.
  • Château de Brissac in France, also known as the “Giant of the Loire Valley,” renowned for its ghost, “la Dame Verte” or the Green Lady.

50. By Seasons and Weather

The way a building interacts with different seasons can be enchanting.

How it stands resilient during winter storms, becomes enlivened by spring blossoms, offers shade in summer, or is framed by autumn leaves can bring a dynamic quality to descriptions.


  • Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, often pictured blanketed in winter snow, looking like a fairy-tale come alive.
  • Traditional Japanese homes with engawas (verandas) designed to appreciate seasonal changes, especially the sakura bloom in spring.

51. By Movement and Dynamics

While buildings are inherently static, the environment around them isn’t.

Describe how shadows move across a structure during the day, how it appears through the mist, or how its reflection dances on water.

These details can capture a building’s dynamic interplay with the environment.


  • The play of sunset hues on Petra’s Al-Khazneh in Jordan, making the ancient rose-red city look aflame.
  • The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, with its surrealistic appearance as it reflects on the bay waters.

52. By Proportions and Geometry

A building’s proportions, symmetry, or lack thereof, and its geometrical design elements can serve as potent descriptors.

They can convey balance, chaos, grandeur, or coziness, depending on the design.


  • The perfectly symmetrical facade of the Taj Mahal in India, representing balance and beauty.
  • The twisted and unconventional design of the Dancing House in Prague, which challenges traditional architectural norms.

53. By Hidden or Secret Elements

Every building might have its hidden nooks, secret passages, or lesser-known elements.

Describing these can add an element of intrigue and adventure to the narrative.


  • The hidden chambers and passageways of Hampton Court Palace in England.
  • The concealed courtyards of Marrakech’s riads, which offer an oasis of calm in the midst of the city’s hustle.

54. By Time of Day

The time of day can drastically change how a building is perceived.

Dawn might cast a soft golden glow, midday could highlight the structure’s magnificence under bright light.

Dusk might lend a serene hue, while nighttime could unveil a structure illuminated in artificial lights.


  • Eiffel Tower in Paris, which transforms from an iron lattice structure in the day to a sparkling jewel at night.
  • Ancient ruins like Stonehenge, which take on a mystical aura during the solstice sunrise.

55. By Parking

Parking can offer a unique perspective on the accessibility, modernity, and practical aspects of a building.

A skyscraper might have a multi-level underground parking facility, while a countryside inn might just have a gravel lot.

The type and style of parking can shed light on the type of people frequenting the building and its location.

Parking is a functional aspect that often gets overlooked.

Yet, it can provide insights into the modern infrastructure and the building’s capacity to accommodate visitors.


  • The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, known for its expansive parking decks, indicative of the structure’s modernity and the bustling crowd it attracts.
  • A centuries-old church in a European town, with only a cobblestone path leading up to it and no dedicated parking, emphasizing its age and the pedestrian nature of the locale.

56. By What Is Missing

Sometimes, what a building lacks can be as telling as what it includes.

The absence of certain features can highlight its history, purpose, or the socio-economic conditions of its residents.

Absence can be telling. A building missing windows might suggest a need for defense or privacy in historical times.

Lack of modern amenities might indicate either a commitment to maintaining historical authenticity or a lack of resources.


  • Castles like the Alhambra in Spain, where certain decorative elements are conspicuously absent due to religious beliefs of the Moors.
  • An old house in a rural village, devoid of any electronic fixtures or modern plumbing, hinting at a simpler time or economic constraints.

57. By Literary Genre

Buildings can be described in a style reminiscent of different literary genres.

A haunted house might be described in a gothic or horror style, a futuristic building in a sci-fi manner, or an old mansion in a romantic or historic style.

Literary genres come with their own set of conventions, moods, and themes.

Utilizing these can offer a distinctive lens through which to view and describe a building, thereby setting a tone that aligns with the narrative’s intent.


  • An abandoned asylum, its corridors echoing with eerie silences and shadows, drawing from horror literature.
  • A building with sleek curves, neon-lit facades, and hovering platforms, reminiscent of science fiction settings like Blade Runner.

50 Words to Describe Buildings

Here is a list of words to describe buildings in your stories, reports, product profiles, and more:

  1. Majestic
  2. Crumbling
  3. Iconic
  4. Austere
  5. Soaring
  6. Antique
  7. Futuristic
  8. Quaint
  9. Imposing
  10. Serene
  11. Geometric
  12. Dilapidated
  13. Sturdy
  14. Reflective
  15. Luminous
  16. Ornate
  17. Gothic
  18. Minimalistic
  19. Weathered
  20. Robust
  21. Elaborate
  22. Rustic
  23. Stark
  24. Symmetrical
  25. Grandiose
  26. Intricate
  27. Revamped
  28. Historic
  29. Breathtaking
  30. Picturesque
  31. Sleek
  32. Time-worn
  33. Enigmatic
  34. Vast
  35. Intimate
  36. Verdant (if covered with plants)
  37. Ominous
  38. Renovated
  39. Palatial
  40. Ethereal
  41. Towering
  42. Pristine
  43. Innovative
  44. Cobblestoned
  45. Sunlit
  46. Vaulted
  47. Winding
  48. Flourishing
  49. Luxurious
  50. Timeless

25 Phrases to Describe Buildings

Next, let’s look at some of the best “starter” phrases to use when you need to describe buildings in writing.

  1. Standing tall against the horizon
  2. Whispers of bygone eras
  3. A beacon of modernity
  4. The touch of nature’s embrace
  5. Frozen in time
  6. A dance of shadows and light
  7. Bearing the weight of history
  8. A testament to innovation
  9. Merging tradition and modernity
  10. Clinging to its past
  11. Resilient against the elements
  12. Melting pot of architectural styles
  13. Crafted with meticulous precision
  14. Heralding a new age
  15. Cradled in the lap of nature
  16. Drawing eyes skyward
  17. Seamlessly blending with its surroundings
  18. Shrouded in tales and mysteries
  19. Rising like a phoenix
  20. A canvas of artistic expression
  21. Carved with legends
  22. Keeping pace with the future
  23. Holding the stories of centuries
  24. Echoing the footsteps of the past
  25. A juxtaposition of epochs

Check out this video about how to describe buildings in writing:

YouTube Video by Interactive English – Describe Buildings in Writing

Three Full Building Descriptions

I don’t know about you but I love to see full examples – especially when it comes to writing tips and techniques.

Therefore, here are three examples for how to describe buildings in writing.

The Old Manor House

Nestled on the outskirts of the town, the Old Manor House stands as a silent sentinel of the past.

Its weathered stone walls and time-worn wooden beams whisper tales of bygone eras. The structure, with its vast corridors and winding staircases, holds an enigmatic charm. Ivy covers much of its facade, lending it a verdant embrace.

The large, towering oak trees around it act as guardians, their branches swaying gently with the wind.

Here, every creak of the floorboard and rustle of the leaves seems to echo with stories waiting to be discovered.

Pinnacle Tower

Rising above the bustling city is the Pinnacle Tower, a beacon of modernity.

Its sleek, reflective glass surface mirrors the ever-changing skyline. As the sun sets, the tower transforms into a luminous gem, its lights dancing amidst the city’s constellation. Designed with innovative architecture, it stands not just as a workplace but a testament to human achievement and the possibilities of the future.

Its top floor offers a panoramic view, making the chaotic streets below seem like a rhythmic, orchestrated play.

Lilac Cottage

Tucked away in a quiet lane, the Lilac Cottage is the epitome of quaint charm.

With its cobblestoned pathway leading to a blue wooden door, and windows framed by blooming flower boxes, the cottage seems straight out of a storybook. The white picket fence and the small garden, bursting with colors, add to its picturesque beauty.

Inside, the intimate space, with its wooden furniture and lace curtains, radiates warmth and comfort.

The scent of freshly baked bread wafts from the kitchen, promising a sanctuary of homely delights.

Final Thoughts: How to Describe Buildings in Writing

Each building has stories etched into its walls, stories of the hands that built it, the eras it survived, and the people who occupied it.

By employing diverse descriptive techniques, writers can unearth and convey these tales, making structures more than just static edifices.

We have lots of other articles about how to describe people, places, and things in writing.

Check out a few of the others before you go :).

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Brittancia (Architechure)