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Building Blocks

Explore Building Classes and Building Heights for Some of the Major Urban Areas
in Great Britain

The Building Blocks data provides detailed information about building types including the house age and structural type. This information can be used for many applications, urban regeneration studies, crime research, building type visulisation and urban growth history.


Download the Shapefiles for the required area using the drop-down menu below

The licensing terms of the Building Blocks are the same as the Cities Revealed licensing agreement.




Further Information

  • Each download is compressed and varies in size.
  • For the downloaded .tar.gz file, first decompress to produce .tar file then unzip the .tar file to produce Shapefiles and any associated files.
  • This download was created to provide fast access to this data. At some stage this download facility will be moved to Landmap Kaia and provided as a WFS.


The below classifications can be found in the attribute table of the shapefiles available for download below.



0. Non residential 1. Very Tall Flats (point blocks) 9. Planned balanced-mixed estates
1. Historic to end Georgian - 1837 2. Tall flats 6 - 15 storeys (slabs) 10. Standard size semis
2. Early and Middle Victorian 1837 - 1870 3. Medium height flats 5 - 6 storeys 11. Semi type house in multiples of 4,6,8 etc
3. Late Victorian/Edwardian 1870 - 1914 4. Lower 3 - 4 storey and smaller flats, detached and linked 12. Large property semis
4. World War I - World War II 1914 - 1945 5. Tall terraces 3 - 4 storeys 13. Smaller detached houses
5. Post war regeneration 1945 - 1964 6. Low terraces, 2 storeys with large T-rear extension 14. Large detached houses
6. Sixties/seventies 1964 - 1979 7. Low terraces, small 15. Very large detached houses, sometimes now flats
7. Recent years 1979 - photo date 8. Linked and step linked houses, 2 - 3 or mixed 2 and 3 storeys 16. Bungalows, both detached and semi detached

17. Single storey small houses

The building type and age data included within the building block shapefiles were classified using the Building Classification Matrix which can be seen in this PDF.


Height information

All building blocks have height attribute, HGT, this value is the height of the building blocks from the base to the top of the building. In some cases this information is not supplied and presented as 0. Base heights for buildings blocks and for those buildings that have missing building height information can be derived from various other Landmap data sets, such as Lidar and DSM and DTM data.


How to Derive Base Heights and Height Information for Building Heights?

This is a basic GIS operation, it can be done using the operation usually described as Zonal Statistics. The operations described here can be used with Building Blocks available from this page, Created by the user, or from Ordnance Survey data downloaded from Digimap.

Height source

Building Height

Lidar DSM Digital Surface Model (DSM)

Base Height

LidarDTM Digital Terrain Model (DTM)

Height Sources for Vectors: Table showing which data set to use to
populate height information for building Blocks data.


ArcGIS Instructions

Start Arctools -> Spatial Analysis Tools -> Zonal -> Zonal Statistics as Table


Figure 1. Zonal Statistics as Table Dialogue

Input for Zonal Statistics as Table Dialogue

Input raster or feature zone data The shape file of the Building Class you want to create the height
information for
Zone Field FID (Feature ID for individual building blocks)
Input Value Raster Use the information in the table Height Sources for Vectors
Output Table Name of the new table you want to create and output data into

This process will create a separate table that can be joined to the Shape file using the FID attribute. You should decide which of the calculated attribute to use for the height information, MEAN is the obvious choice, However Maximum and Minimum are also legitimate choices depending on your application or field of study.


ERDAS Imagine Instructions

In Erdas 2011 select the Vector Menu > Select Zonal Attributes the following dialogue will appear


 Figure 2. Input for Zonal Attributes

Vector Layer The shape file you want to create Heights for
Raster Layer The Height information source as in Height Sources for Vectors
Resolution for Rasterizing Vector data This will default to the resolution of the Raster layer you have chose
(recommend to reduce this to 1 m for Landmap data)

Select the Zonal functions your require. The Zonal Functions will appear as additional attribute values for the input Shape file you used as input. You may change the names of the attribute to your liking. The Imagine Zonal Function tend to miss attribute some polygons and leave them at zero, various investigations have not yielded results as to why this happens or provide a solution.