Roofing Architecture Design Concepts

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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A roof is part of the envelope of your home or commercial property. It is the top covering, consisting of all the materials used to put it up, and the additional elements used to support it on the walls of the house.

This element is essential in providing your property with protection from weather elements such as rainfall, snow, extreme temperatures, and sunlight.

You Might Be Interested In: Mexican Thatch Roof

Various roofing designs have been used in the past, and over the years, these design concepts have been altered and improved to optimize the functionality of this vital construction element, as well as its aesthetic value when installed on buildings.

Knowing the roofing style that you want is very important when it comes to choosing what roofing material will work best for your property.

Besides, it can go a long way into enhancing the value of your entire piece of real estate.

What Are the Common Types of Roof Designs?

What are these different roofing styles, designs, and shapes that we keep mentioning? Catch the most common ones:

1. Gable Roofs

These are some of the most common roofing designs in the U.S. Also known as pitched or peaked roof, it consists of two sections that slope in opposite directions. The highest horizontal edges of these two sections meet to form a ridge.

Gable roofs shed water and snow easily. They also provide ample space for the attic or vaulted ceiling and provide for proper ventilation. On the flip side, they have a high risk of collapsing in high wind and strong hurricane areas.

Gable roofs can be covered with virtually any type of roofing material, including metal, asphalt shingles, or clay roofing tiles.

Check out this guide on how to shingle a roof yourself.

There are various types of gable roofs:

a. Side Gable

This is the most basic type of gable roof. It has two sides that are equal in size, pitched at an angle, and opposite one another.

These two panels have one edge each meeting at the highest mid-point of the building to form a ridge.

The triangular section can either be left open (open gable) or it can be enclosed using the material used to construct the wall underneath it (boxed gable).

Image by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

b. Front Gable

This is a gable design concept common with colonial-style houses. The gable section is placed at the entrance of the house.

c. Crossed Gable

This is a roofing design created by the intersection of two gable roofs at a right angle. The two ridges of these roofs are perpendicular to one another.

Their pitches, lengths, or heights may be the same or different depending on the design of the house and the owner's personal preferences.

d. Dutch Gable

This design concept is brought about by the architectural fusion of a gable and a hip roof (discussed in the next section of this article). The gable roof is constructed on top of the hip roof. This design creates more space. It is also beautiful to look at. 

2. Hip Roofs

Also known as hipped roofs, this type of roof has four surfaces, all of which slopes downwards towards the walls underneath. All four surfaces intersect at the highest point of the building to form the ridge. Hip roofs have no gables. Compared to gable roofs, hip roofs perform relatively well in high wind areas.

Here are the different types of hip roofs:

a. Simple Hip

Its two opposite sides are trapezoid in shape whereas the other two opposite sides are triangular in shape. They all come together to form the ridge.

b. Half Hipped

This hip roof has two of its sides shortened to create eaves.

c. Cross Hipped Roofs

This is very similar to the crossed gable type, only that with the cross-hipped type, the intersecting sections are hip roofs.

The depression that marks the meeting point of these two roofing sections is called a valley. This section must be properly waterproofed to prevent roofing leaks.

3. Flat Roofs

This is perhaps the simplest roofing design that there is.

It is the simplest to construct compared to other roofing styles. Any roof that has a pitch of 1-10 degrees is considered a flat roof.

So in essence, flat roofs aren't actually flat. This is so to allow water to run off its surface to prevent roofing damage.

Favored for its simple design and accessibility, this type of roof is versatile and provides space that can be used for other purposes.

For instance, flat roof solar racking can be installed on this roof without it being visible from the ground.

You can also design a living roof on it to create an outdoor lounge area. This can give you a beautiful garden on your rooftop.

The only downside to this type of roof is that debris, dirt, and leaves from nearby trees can easily collect on its surface.

4. Mansard Roofs

Mansard roofs have four slopes, with each side of the house featuring two slopes.

The lowest slope is considerably steeper than the upper slope. This unique design with French roots allows for extra space at the top of the house.

5. Gambrel Roofs

The only difference between this type of roof and the mansard roof is that Gambrel style roof has straight gable ends. They are of Dutch origin.


Even if a roofing design concept appears too complex to understand, its architectural design ideally revolves around the basic roof types. Some are a hybrid of the different types of roofs, well designed and articulately constructed to complete a beautiful piece of architecture.

A residential home with different distinct sections, for instance, can be dressed with both a cross gable and cross hipped roof for a unique design. Find out which design would work best for your property, and contract a competent roofing expert who will construct it skillfully.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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