The Creative Use of Flat Roofs Throughout History

Back in the days, in countries where rain and snow were common occurrences, all roofs used to be sloped so that they protected buildings from the accumulation of snow and water as they ran off sloped roofs. However, that was not the case in deserts due to their arid climates. The change in roof styles and the way they looked started during the industrial revolution. Flat tar roofs were invented in the mid-1800s, yet there had to be a slight slope so that it could drain water and snow in winter. They used to apply layers of tar and felt by a mop as back then, asphalt and tar roofs were only flat, unlike the different styles we see nowadays. Read on to learn about the creative use of flat roofs throughout history.

To Save Money

With the passage of time, buildings started to get larger and larger, so building a sloped roof added more cost because more feet are added to the height of the building. Sloped roofs make room for attics, but when you calculate the cost and compare it to the benefits of having an attic, it is almost not worth it. Therefore, people started to go for flat roofs, especially in modern cities like New York for example. 

A Place to Hangout

When flat rooftops started to become common in some cities, people started to make use of the extra space they have now and put chairs and tables to hang out on the roof. Also, some used the asphalt flat roof to hang their laundry as it is the perfect spot to dry clothes. Other people who weren’t interested in hanging out on the roof used them for putting water towers on top of the buildings. However, using flat roofs to hang out with family and friends was very popular.

Sign of Modernity

As flat roofs were very common in modern cities, they became a symbol of modernity to the point that some businesses built a false front to hide behind it the sloped roof of their buildings, and others did that to hide the mountains, so they don’t look like they are living in a less modern place than a city. By time almost all industrial and commercial buildings had flat rooftops to cope with the modern environment. In the 1920s, flat roofs became a symbol of modernity and gained popularity in the Modern International style of Architecture.

Nowadays, flat roofs are popular because they are affordable and they do not exceed the height limit laws. Moreover, we have more types of flat roofs than before like, built-up roofs, modified bitumen roofs, and rubber membrane roofs. They have a long history that started with the industrial revolution, and people started to make creative use of them since then. Some people used them as a place to gather their families and friends, place water towers on top of the buildings, hang their laundry, and finally to show that they are on the more modern side of the world. 

Khuwalid Khalid
Contact at Khuwalid.khalid@gmail.com

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