The world is a kaleidoscope of human-made wonders, from towering skyscrapers to sprawling developments. Some of the largest buildings were unsurprisingly built to house massive aircraft and NASA spaceships, but there are some other mammoth-sized buildings that have broken astonishing records for far less.
From the O2 Arena in the United Kingdom to the largest indoor waterpark in Germany, these are the largest buildings in the world by volume.
The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is the largest administrative building for civilian use in the world, trumping the Pentagon in the United States with that caveat alone. Measuring 270 meters long and 86 meters tall, with a further 92 meters descending below ground, this massive 20-story edifice – eight stories of which are underground – boasts an impressive 3,000-plus rooms, most of which are unused.
First built in 1984 as the seat of the Parliament of Romania, and never quite completed, the palace is a medley of halls, galleries, and office spaces. Built out of marble, cement, steel, crystal, and glass, it’s one of the heaviest and most expensive buildings on Earth, weighing in at an unbelievable 4,098,500,000 kilograms!
The O2 Arena is an enormous multi-purpose arena in south-east London with a capacity for a staggering 20,000 people. It was built beneath the pre-existing Millennium Dome for which it’s easily recognized – the largest dome in the world, designed by architect Sir Richard Rogers that was opened in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium. It closed down and was reused for several smaller events before reopening officially as the O2 in 2007 amidst massive political and economic scrutiny.
The aim of the massive event and exhibition space was to be as flexible as possible. Today, it can be repurposed as an ice rink, sports court, conference center, and – most importantly –a concert venue. During a record year in 2015, over 600,000 pints of beer were sold at its various events.
The Inex Sipoo is a massive logistics center for groceries and consumer goods located at the border of Sipoo and Kerava in Finland. Built in five different sections between 2016 and 2019, it has the ability to process thousands of items of consumer goods – from perishables to dry foods – in a series of different warehouses and temperature zones.
With its leading automated technology, the building allows over 1.4 million units to be sorted through each day from trays to trolleys and store pallets. The tray warehouse alone has the capacity for 550,000 trays! Only one phase within the whole process actually requires human intervention – removing the protective film from the pallets – the rest is done entirely by machines.
The NASA Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the world’s fourth-biggest building by volume. Built in 1966 to assemble the rockets for the Apollo and Saturn space missions – and later, the Space Shuttle – it’s the largest single-story building on Earth, and the tallest building outside an urban city in the United States.
Towering an impressive 160 meters and stretching for 218 meters, the concrete and steel VAB building is more than three times the size of New York’s Empire State Building. One of the most enormous American flags is painted across its exterior – which used over 6,000 gallons of paint.
The Boeing Composite Wing Center in Washington was established as a facility for building the largest composite wings for the 777X jetliner. Stretching the size of more than 21 football fields, the structure is so big that it took over four million hours to build and required more than 31,000 tons of steel.
The building is so big, in fact, that it can hold three of the world’s biggest cylindrical autoclaves (essentially pressurized ovens for baking the composite airplane parts), each of which are large enough to house two Boeing 737 fuselages. In addition to the massive space required for housing airplane parts, the building also incorporates the offices of the staff that oversee the mammoth production process.
Meyer Werft Dockhalle 2 in Germany is among the top three largest shipbuilding halls on the planet, used to craft the world’s passenger ferries, research vessels, container ships, and the most luxurious cruise liners from P&O to Celebrity Cruises. It’s also the biggest dry dock in the world and boasts the fifth largest usable space of any building on Earth.
A highlight on Papenburg’s tourist radar, the colossal shipyard offers a ‘Visiting the Ocean Giants’ experience, where visitors can see the cruise ships as they’re being constructed. The facility includes an impressive plethora of interactive exhibits, educational films, and even a simulated cruise cabin.
Aerium in Germany is the world’s fourth-largest building by usable volume. Located in Krausnick near Berlin, it once took the title for the most massive free-standing aircraft hangar in the world and was originally built with the intention to construct aircraft. However, due to budget constraints, the airship was never built, and the CargoLifter Company went into liquidation in 2002.
Several years later, the Aerium was then transformed into a megalithic indoor theme park known as Tropical Islands Resort, which struck the record for the largest indoor waterpark in the world. Today, the massive undercover waterpark has a plethora of pools and water rides that can be enjoyed at a balmy pre-set 26 degrees Celsius.
The purpose-built Jean-Luc Lagardère Plant is a major industrial aviation facility located at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. It’s the second-largest building in the world by usable space. It’s here that the Airbus A380 – currently the world’s largest airliner – comes into fruition.
Completed in 2004, it took an astonishing 50,000-plus tons of steel to create this enormous facility. It’s so big that the final process of the aircraft’s assembly, as well as ground testing processes, can be carried out within its four walls. In addition to the sprawling space required for aircraft production, the facility also includes a variety of restaurants, beauty salons, a congress center, and a fuel station.
The Great Mosque of Mecca, better known as the Al Masjid Al Haram, is the holiest of holy places in Islamic culture. Located in Saudi Arabia, it’s the largest mosque in the world, and one of the oldest, too.
With the ability to house millions of worshipers at any one time, the mosque itself is unsurprisingly one of the largest buildings in the world. Having been expanded several times over the years, it’s now trumped in volume only by the Boeing Everett Factory in the United States. The focal point of the mosque is the Holy Kaaba, adorned in black and gold, which predates even the Prophet Muhammad himself.
The Boeing Everett Factory in Washington, United States, is the largest building in the world when measured by volume and usable space. It was built in 1967 to facilitate the assembly of airplanes, specifically Boeing aircraft from the 747 through to the 787.
It’s so big that it uses a million light bulbs yet doesn’t need a heating system because of the 15,000 employees that work here and intense heated machinery creating more than enough energy to heat the factory. Due to its sheer size and the level of dangerous work required, the factory has a number of safety precautions, such as its very own fire station, police station, and medical facility.