ROOFS 3 -Skyline and Silhouette

Post 328 – by Gautam Shah

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Roofs are most articulated elements of a building. Roofs form the skyline of a building, visible from a distance as a silhouette during twilight hours. A roof distinguishes a building among many other roofs. Roofs are single entity form covering nearly whole of structure, like for a pyramid or Pantheon. A roof could have a single domineering form, by height, mass or surface treatment. The roof mass is bloated by adding translucent forms like a belvedere, Chhatri, Turrets, galleries, Cupola, etc. These forms of varied sizes and shapes create an undulated edge over the roof.

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Roofs have been important as they form a resonant skyline. Historical buildings formed a vibrant horizon by being on important terrain, large scale, height and the form. There are very few examples where a single roof structure (Parthenon) was created for dominance. Otherwise, several buildings forming a complex or an estate composed a variegated skyline. Such outlines were not pre-planned but evolved through deliberate additions and alterations over a period of time. In many cases the deliberations preceded with case study through on site sketches and scaled models.

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The scenario has changed during the last century due to aircraft and satellites. Both have provided means of observing buildings from higher elevations. This has been a key factor in shape forming of not only high rise buildings but also large footprint structures. The composition of roofs (and entire structure) in making the skyline and silhouette, is pre-visualized for different atmospheric conditions, planned illuminations, and viewing positions including ground and air.

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These add-on architectural elements are rarely functional entities, or are connected with the main Interior spatial character of the building. There is an attempt to articulate their scale, sequencing, proportioning, scaling, etc. Well-designed buildings executed in one era usually have such well integrated roof elements. The integration is seen in ‘picturesque’ views from all sides and corners.

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Roofs that are well integrated with the architectural layout of the building have a mutual affinity. One of the first such building is Hagia Sophia of Istanbul. It was the extra ordinary scale that perhaps did not allow any room for manipulation or decorative improvisations. Whatever one, perceives from outside, is the exact reflection of the interior space arrangement.

Istanbul_Hagia_Sophia_SultanahmedA similar roof related truthfulness is seen in many of the Gothic structures of an earlier era. In later periods the roofs have been loaded with many decorative elements, statuettes, etc. All Gothic roof structures rise up from their vertical elements, in one continuum.

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Roofs, have been axially-balanced compositions, and also disarrayed mass arrangements. In case of religious buildings where the attention is focused, the building and its roof follow the same system. The composition could be single, multi-axial or cross axial, yet a balance roof emerges. This is also true of Government buildings, courts and other public buildings.

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Roofs of single form covering the entire building have been used as the structure to seen and recognized from a distance or sky. Airports, Railway stations, Stadiums, etc. have single roof mounts. Space station workshops, aircraft hangers, large industrial plants have large functional space, enforcing single roof structures.

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Palaces and temples have very large vertical surface extent, and as a result the need for a bloated roof entity is not very strong. The roof lines are though undulated in various configurations. These structures have mixed roof structures, though well arranged but not in any formal or axial manner.

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Roofs, in many buildings are, sloped structures. Sloped roof stretch the vertical face it abuts. This characteristic has been used in many buildings. Roofs have frontal slopes or side slopes accompanied by triangular pediment on main face.

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Modern buildings have roofs that acutely technical facilities. Few buildings have roof top public-use facilities like a view deck. But buildings’ skylines are designed to form a distinguishing entity in a mass of urban developments. Buildings are conceived to be visible and recognizable identity, in all types of weather and lighting conditions.

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Sloped Roofs

Post – by Gautam Shah

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Sloped Roofs are high or low pitched, single structures or assimilation of many sizes and pitches. Sloped roofs, make the skyline vibrant at any time of the day, and during evenings in illuminated city scapes. Sloped Roofs are heavy at the bottom, and so are gravity compliant. Sloped roofs seem stable even if project out of the nominal (structural) foot print of the buildings. In modern day scenario of Air Travel, sloped roofs make a fascinating urban scape.

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As a building element this are not tied by creation of functional spaces, placement of openings and literally sky is the limit to fly-out. The roofs are essentially external architectural statements and so variety of surface textures through materials and form-treatments are possible.

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Dresden Roofs > Wikipedia image by Heribert Pohl

Sloped roofs are of many different varieties. The simplest is the lean-to, or shed, which has slope in only one direction. A roof with two slopes that form an “A” or triangle is called a gable or pitched roof

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A hipped roof is a like gable roof but has slopes on all four sides.

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Hipped Roofs > Osgood castle, Colorado USA > Wikipedia image by Jeffrey Beall

The gambrel roof is a type of gable roof with two pitches on two sides, the upper being less steep than the lower.

Mansard Roof

The mansard roof is a hipped gambrel roof, with double pitches on all sides.

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A pyramidal hipped roof, also known as a pavilion roof, is hipped equally at all corners and the hips meet at a single peak, but the common form of hip roof is above a rectangular structure, and so there would be a roof ridge meeting two hips at either end.

A variant is the half-hipped or jerkin head roof, which has gable ends truncated by the eaves of a small hip end (or jerkin head) that descends a short distance from the roof ridge. On an irregularly shaped structure, there may be more than four hips, which then may alternate with valleys, to form a hip-and-valley roof.

Folded Plate Roof

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