The Dezeen guide to roof design and architecture

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The latest Dezeen guide describes eight types of roofs, including hipped roofs, saw-tooth roofs, rooftop greens, and arched roofs.

Most basically, the roof is a cover to protect the building from the weather. Simple flat and sloping roofs are common, but there are many other types of roofs, each suitable for different building designs and environments.

Some, such as saw-tooth roofs and hipped roofs, add a decorative and practical aspect to the building. Other types include gable roofs, mansard roofs, and single pitch roofs.

Read on to learn more about the eight common roof types below:


Flat roof

Flat roofs are often used in warehouses and commercial buildings, but there are also many residential designs that incorporate flat roofs.

Many modernist architectures have flat roofs that complement the streamlined geometric design and are also characteristic of traditional Arabian, Egyptian and Persian homes.

Design styles are common in buildings with warm climates where the roof can be used as an additional living space.

Flat roofs can be made of a variety of materials such as stone, concrete and brick, but flat roof sheets are often used in industrial buildings.

Architectural studio Manuel Cervantosue Studio has added a flat roof to Hill House (pictured), a villa partially submerged in the ground.

See a flatter roof›


The house in front of the school by the Fujiwara room architect

Sloping roof

One of the most common roof shapes is a sloping roof. In the simplest form of a one-sided roof or hut, there is only one of these slopes, as seen in front of the school, which is the Fujiwara room project house above. Here, an oversized sloping roof is supported by large wooden beams to protect the interior.

Sloped roofs form the basis of many other shapes of roofs that utilize multiple slopes, such as gable roofs. Historically, sloping roofs have been common because rain and snow can easily run off.

Other recent projects with a single sloping roof include a student hub designed by Kengo Kuma and an aquatic center in the French Alps.

See more sloping roofs›


Claygate house

Gable roof

Gable roofs are made from two triangular slopes and have been used in buildings from ancient Greek temples.

They are common in both Europe and North America. Gable roofs are often used in residential construction, and their triangular shape is a visual abbreviation for “house.”

The house can be a front gable, or a side gable, which means that the gable faces the street if the gable and the gable ridge are parallel to the street.

Studio Alexander Martin Architects used two gables in designing the Claygate House in the photo, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th century.

In the United States, architectural studio Side Angle Side created the gable Casa Casey for architectural photographers.

View the gable roof ›


Monopoly Fabrizio Pugliese vaulted ceiling

Arched roof

The vault is a self-supporting arch and does not require a framework underneath. Its unique shape is often also a decorative ceiling.

The most common type of barrel vault was first built by the Summers and was also used in ancient Egypt.

Other types of arched roofs include cross vaults formed by the crossing of at least two barrel vaults and rib vaults. These are vaults where all the crotch is covered with ribs or diagonal ribs.

Another example of an arched roof is the arched fan. This is a late British Gothic structure with evenly spaced ribs that resemble a fan.

Chilean architectural studio Edward Rojas Arquitectos designed Casa Abovedada (pictured above) from three arched volumes. Argentina’s Casa Monopoli (above) has an arched brick roof.

See the vaulted roof›


Skamlingsbanken

Rooftop greening

Rooftop greening, also known as rooftop greening, is a roof with vegetation planted on a waterproof membrane. They help the building blend well with the surrounding landscape and promote biodiversity.

Examples of rooftop greening include rooftop greening with a rooftop greening system made from pre-grown sedum plant blankets and roofs covered with grass and shrubs.

Urban rooftop greening can be divided into intensive rooftop greening, which is essentially rooftop greening, vast rooftop greening, which is a natural, low-maintenance roof, and semi-intensive rooftop greening, which is a combination of the other two. ..

In Denmark, architectural studio CEBRA designed the Skamblingsbanken building to be hidden in a hill, and a rooftop plunge over the building.

See the rooftop greening›


Barn by Kearney Logan Architects

Gambrel and mansard roof

A common mansard roof in a barn is a symmetrical double-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The slope at the bottom is steeper than at the top and overhangs the façade. Sometimes called the Dutch gable.

The mansard roof also has a vertical gable end. It has the advantage of a sloping roof where rain and snow slide off, but it has more room inside the top floor than a sloping roof.

They are similar to Gambrel roofs, but mansard roofs are four-sided rather than double-sided. The mansard roof, like the gambler roof, has a lower steep slope than the top.

The US company Carney Logan Burke Architects used recycled wood to build a mansard-roofed house called The Barn above in the countryside of Wyoming.

See more Gambrell and Mansard Roofs›


Bigwin Island by MacKay Lyons and Sweetapple

Hip roof

All sides of the hipped roof are sloping towards the wall, the edges are sloping rather than vertical, and there are no gables.

Historically, hipped roofs were common in Italy, but today they are found in bungalows and cottages and are commonly used in American homes. They are more resistant to wind damage than gable roofs, but they are also more difficult to build.

The hipped roof version includes a semi-hip roof with a single gable that has been replaced by a small hipped roof, and a tent roof that has a steep slope at its peak.

Canadian studio MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple designed a villa with a large hipped roof for a resort island in the Muskoka district of Ontario above.

See more hipped roofs›


Saw-toothed house

Saw roof

The saw-tooth roof has a series of ridges with two pitches on each side, with steeper sides glassed to allow as much light as possible into the building.

Saw-tooth roofs are most effective when used on a series of three ridges, producing an attractive jagged effect. Industrial and manufacturing buildings often have serrated roofs that use glass as their primary light source.

These types of roofs have diminished in use as artificial light sources have become more common, but are now revived due to the growing interest in building buildings with natural light.

Examples of saw-toothed buildings include Julia Yamlojik and Colin Kempster’s design of a lakeside house in Canada (above) and the Sanand Factory in Studio Saar, India.

See more saw-tooth roofs›

This is the latest version of the Dezeen Guide series. See previous guides on bridges, plastics, biomaterials, carbon and wood.

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