A modern flat roofed house: image by Ganzaless (via Shutterstock).
At face value, flat roofs are exactly that: a flat roof with an even surface or corrugated surface. Sometimes there may be seen with barriers along their perimeter as a safety feature. They are a most obvious sign of post-1945 architectural styles – especially multi-storey car parks, tower blocks, and superstores.
Flat roofs are popular in countries with hot and dry climates where the roof is less likely to leak. In Cumbria, where slate roofing is King, even less so (as anybody familiar with the Cumbrian climate may testify). Here, flat roofs tend to be seen on bus shelters, substations, conservatories and smaller buildings.
Typically, flat roofs have a shorter lifecycle than our traditional slate roofs. A maintenance cycle of every 10 to 20 years is recommended, which is a third of the expected lifecycle for traditional slate roofing.
One of the world’s most famous flat roofed buildings: the Bauhaus School, Dessau, Germany. Among architects, the Bauhaus Movement was very influential.
Of all the roofing types described on our blog, flat roofs offer the most flexibility. It is possible to have a roof terrace or expand upwards. At the turn of the 19th Century, some urban schools had flat roofs, where the roof (heavily fenced) doubled as a playground. Towards the interwar years, this roofing style was an exemplar of modern design, associated with Art Deco and Streamline Moderne architectural movements, and the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany (seen above).
One thing for sure is that flat roofs will never go away. Their popularity is due to flexibility and economy, in the wettest as well as the driest of climates.