Updated: Nov 18, 2022
By Kate Gawi - Co-Founder & Creative Director
Being, what I call, a roof junkie, I found it beyond satisfying watching our new roof tiles being laid. Slate by slate the roof took shape, and it was an elated experience to say the least.
In architecture, the roof is often one of the most noticeable design elements and hence deserves utmost attention, yet we see many homes where the roof has been neglected either during the design phase or during construction. The importance of a roof; its design, form, style, and finishes, could often make or break a design.
Without knowing why we are attracted to a certain building, the answer may be somewhere between the rafters and the sky; the roof. The roof is what defines the building, it gives it form and a language, an appearance that could be altered by the choice of style, shape, and material.
Powerful statements could be made by the choice of roof, and we can trace a buildings origin by noticing and analysing the roof.
The most popular roof material choices in Australia are metal, concrete tiles, terracotta tiles and slate. We also see shingle roofs emerging, particularly in Hamptons style homes.
Most cost-efficient roofs would be colorbond roofs and some other metal roofs. When you choose copper and zinc as your roof material, that is when the cost starts to rise. While the metal roof may have a poor connotation, as we refer to sheds and other cheaply built structures, modern architecture has managed to change that opinion. Most roof form as well as some façade claddings look wonderful in zinc alume and the colour variations are plenty. Modern farmhouses look stunning and sophisticated with a matte black, standing seem colorbond roof. There is a wide range of colours to choose from and plenty of profiles.
While metal roofs are typically used in modern, contemporary, and commercial buildings, many heritage and classical buildings in Europe look simply stunning with metal roofs. Another roof type that looks amazing with metal roof panels is the skillion roofs, a roof with a large flat surface set at a steep pitch.
If you are looking for an architectural statement, with a rustic look, then Cor-ten steel creates an age-old rustic look. The contrast between rustic and modern design elements results in an interesting and bold design statement. Patinated roofs of copper is another way to achieve that and can be applied on both modern architecture as well as traditional. Copper will look timeless. The change in colour to patina green, over the years is particularly attractive and gives the roof a unique look.
Another metal roof, the Zincalume roofing, that is a a combination of aluminium, zinc, and silicon, is a long-lasting roof and a good budget alternative.
Slate – The King of Roof Tiles
There is nothing like a slate roof. No other roof material creates a majestic presence as the slate. They are beautiful, traditional, and a great architecturally designed home will be enhanced ten folds by a slate roof. While they are one of the most durable and longest-lasting roofing materials they are also one of the most expensive. A slate roof will have a lifespan over 100 years but will require a skilled slate roofer to install it as it is a craftsmanship that requires the experience and skills.
The wonderful thing about slate is, that depending on the weather, the colour changes. When the sun hits the slate roof, it is almost like velvet, and on gloomier days, the blue shades are simply perfect.
The Penrhyn Heather Blue slate, also known as Bangor Blue, is a premium slate as is the Spanish Cupa slate, which comes in a few different shades of blacks, blues, and greys.
Traditional homes and classic architecture will always look fantastic with a slate roof.
Slate looks fabulous applied on a mansard roof. Mansard roofs are four-sided roofs, gambrel styled hip roof embodied by two slopes on each of its sides with the lower slope, punctured dormer windows. A habitable space is created under the steep roof. Sometimes the mansard roof is called a French roof.
What makes slate so visually stunning is the sleekness. A well-articulated roof form looks fabulous, and a mitred hip ridge looks seamless and can be created with slate. Slate does not only look great on traditional homes. We have used majestic slate tiles on more contemporary buildings, and they can give a farmhouse style design a more robust and rich appearance.
Creating Curb Appeal
Architecture is at its best when knowledge of construction is incorporated and this relates to the construction cost as well, now more than ever.
Shingle is a fantastic material when creating a timeless look without breaking the bank. A type of shingle, the asphalt shingle come in sheets that are layered on a roof to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, such as cedar and slate. Gable roofs are the easiest to shingle and most shingle can be applied on hip roofs, using different techniques.
Perhaps the most pocket friendly alternative to slate and shingle, is the concrete tile.
Today’s techniques have advanced and there are more and more products on the market that resemble slate but are made of concrete. There are a diverse range of colours and profiles out there to choose from.
Looking for a Mediterranean style roof? Terracotta tiles or clay tiles as they sometimes are called, will be your perfect match. Also wonderful to use in Spanish colonial style or Italianate homes.
A World of Roofs
Next time, when you wonder through the streets of Melbourne, perhaps sipping on a Margarita on a roof top bar, or when travelling around the globe, notice all the myriads of roof styles available. Make note of how they contribute to the overall architecture, how big of a difference a style, form and material choice makes to the building.
Look at why certain roof forms emerged, such as the Chinese xieshan roof style, originated in the Eastern Han dynasty as an adaptation of the hip roof.
Did you know that in China, the curved roof was believed to ward off evil spirits because evil spirits hated curves and that they would also fall off due to its drastic angle? Material choices naturally stem from the proximity to the source but today we have all selections available to us. And we do not have to follow what has been built for decades, when migration increases, so does the variety of taste and cultural choices.
Europeans knew their roofs and the Dutch roof, with a combination of gable and hip, is a wonderful example of that. Americans are proud of the Cape Cod and Hamptons style homes, and it is not overly difficult to get the authentic touch.
Integrating dormer windows in your roof space and using decorative finials , spires and ridge crestings are another way of enhancing the roof if skilfully designed and applied.
Trust your architect when it comes to designing the perfect roof for your home, have a search online and see what attracts your eye and communicate this with your architect.
A roof should be more than just a roof over your head. It is the jewel of the crown.
Co-Founder and Creative Director