Literary Architecture: Roofs

A book is full of details and dialogue, but what’s intriguing is the characteristics of things without breath. Such as the way the sun dips past the A-line roof, shining like fire on either side. Or the way the shutters hang like loose teeth, easily trembling in stormy wind. In this series, I will be exploring the little things in architecture from the gravel road leading to the type of roof sitting on the top because knowing these small details can save a lot of time in research. For this particular post, we are going right below heavens grasp on roofs.


Great for desert climate, the flat roof, as you can see above, is exactly that: flat. These types are not region–specific but are found in many hot areas such as Arizona and do well with keeping the heat outside. These are not the types of roofs to be found in colder climates, the brickwork unable to sustain such conditions.


A common type of roof, the Gable is best suited for temperate weather regions (like here in Massachusetts!). The design is simple, making it a more common and an inexpensive option. This is why you can find this type of roofing all around the world.


Inverted in the center, the butterfly roof makes for a more non-traditional home and is a common mid-century modern roof. Created by William Krisel and Dan Palmer, these types of homes with the butterfly wing roofs were mainly in California.  

Gambel Rof


Positioned with two slopes on either end, the gambrel has the maximum amount of the head room on the top floor. Originally called a kerb roof, the American name is the more common term, and more commonly seen on barns.


Like the gambrel, the mansard is hipped with slopes and more dormer windows.



One of the oddest looking roofs would have to be the saltbox, the way it dips below the house, making it seem as if the upper levels are cramped. This style is mainly native to New England as you can see from the image above – the Thomas Lee House in Connecticut.



Probably seen less on a home and more on a religious or political structure, the dome, which is just the top half of a sphere, is a nice roof to consider when mapping out your fictional town or setting.


The ugly duckling of roofs.

A Frame


And of course the classic A-frame house.

Honorable mentions: 

  • Barrel Roof
  • Saw-tooth roof
  • Pent roof
  • Karahafu roof
  • Satari roof
  • Saddleback

Sources to check out:

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