Roofing Around the World

18 Jul Roofing Around the World

icelandic farm housesRoofs, of course, have existed for about as long as man-made structures have existed. Around the world they have been developed and customized over the centuries to suit their respective climates and native architectural styles. Here is a look at some of the most characteristic of roof styles from around the world—and where you can find them.

Sod Roofs

A sod roof, or grass roof, is a traditional Scandinavian type of green roof that is constructed with several layers of birch bark laid on gently sloping wooden roof boards, which are covered with sod. In Sweden the sod was simply cut from the meadows and placed on top of the roofs. It was the most common roofing style on log houses in several parts of Scandinavia until the late 19th century, as the heaviness of the roof actually helped to compress the logs and make the walls more drought-proof. Today’s roofs in Scandinavia are commonly constructed from clay, concrete, or slate-look tiles.

White Limestone Roofs

Bermuda is famous for its beautiful beaches of pink sand and for the many colorful houses that dot the island—all of which characteristically feature white roofs. Did you know that these roofs actually developed out of a necessity to preserve the quality of water that is collected by rainfall? Though the island is surrounded by beautiful blue water, fresh and potable water has always been a scarcity. Bermuda’s white roofs stand as a solution. These white roofs are constructed in step-like sloped surfaces and feature gutter ridges that funnel water toward pipes, which then lead to an underground tank that feeds the household tap. The roofs are constructed from slates that are made of from local limestone blocks. Once the slates are arranged and set in a stepped pattern, they are covered in a thin wash of cement and finished with a whitewash. This special finish works to sanitize the water as it runs into a holding tank. These special white roofs also happen protect houses against the gale-force winds that plague the island during hurricane season, as well as reflect sunlight to keep the house cooler. You’ll actually find similar limestone roofs on the Greek island of Santorini.

Thatched Roofs

Thatched roofs are a traditional English craft that involves using straw and grass as roofing. A thatched roof is constructed by pegging bundles of thatch in place on roof beams, starting with an underlayer and gradually adding upper layers until a reinforcing layer is laid at the ridgeline. At the ridgeline, roofers would often leave a “signature” decorative feature such as a bird figurine. Advances in architectural technology eventually rendered the straw used for thatching unusable, and now homes in Britain that feature thatched roofing will fetch a pretty penny.

Ornate Tiled Roofs

Ornate tiled roofs complete with complex and beautiful adornments can be seen on many palaces that populate Thailand, China, and South Korea. These roofs are truly works of art and each embody their own types of symbolism. Thailand’s Grand Palace, for example, features tiles of all different colors depending on the particular building. Green and orange roof tiles cover the palace’s throne hall and are surrounded by ornate gold adornments.

These are only a few of the world’s most interesting roofs. The next time you find yourself in a new place, take a look at the roofs you see. What do they say about the country’s history and culture?

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