About to embark on designing a brand new, ground-up home for ourselves, my husband and I are caught at an architectural crossroads. We think of ourselves as modern architects, and many of the houses we look to for inspiration are all-out modern. Like many design professionals of the creation, we browse Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture and fell in love with the concept of being able to occupy and plant a garden onto a flat roof terrace. Why are we now wavering on roof form?

If you ask a child to draw a house, you’re most likely to receive a similar image across civilizations: walls, a front door and, most notably, a pitched roof. Modernist parents might cringe and explain to their 3-year-old a roof doesn’t have to become inclined, the horizontal roof is a symbol of progress from the architectural world. But what is it about this particular shape — those angled lines that form protection — that makes it so suggestive of a home? And more important, how do we transform this historic notion of the pitched roof to allow it to earn a place in the modern world?

Turns out, we don’t need to look too far; lots of homeowners and architects have already attained this crossover.

Too often we think of the roof and walls as separate elements of a home. By enabling these pieces to flow easily from one to the other, we consider the initial step in breaking from a traditional past.

Here the timber slats employed to both airplanes and the asymmetry of the gables emphasize a modern nature.

Peter A. Sellar – Architectural Photographer

Think about the soffit area to help tie the overhead structure into the walls. The timber bottom of this roof turns and continues uninterrupted into the balcony, creating an expansion of the total shape.

Metal groove siding found its way from the roof building on the walls of this home, eliminating the use of a traditional eave and generating a sculptural silhouette in a dense region.

A light-colored end frame highlights the contrasting blackened wood that covers the roof and outlines the exterior of this home. A corner portion of the wall may fold back to blur the line between interior and exterior, while the pitched-roof outline remains intact.

Olsen Studios

A similar pattern may create a conversation between two unique materials for the roof and walls, like this standing-seam metallic roof and easy HardiePanels with fir battens. The light colors of both materials incorporate the surfaces.

Nick Noyes Architecture

A similar scale and feel may also help the roof communicate with all the walls, like with this pitched roof house. The minimum overhangs and large windows provide its traditional form a modern quality.

Lane Williams Architects

The inseparable connection between wall and roof may find its way into the interior, also. Using one substance for both the walls and ceiling highlights the shape of the space.

A casing of timber siding defines this serene contemporary home. The exterior patio looks as a shadow of the construction, mimicking it in both form and substance.

Kentaro Kurihara

Cladding the exterior entirely in one color shows off the bold form an inclined roof can exhibit.

Johnston Architects

Wall and roof materials may also serve as a veil. A thin profile of metal covers this gable, and openings within the metal show the space beyond. Wood end pieces emphasize the inclined roof.

As all of these architects have demonstrated, you can sit at the modern kids’ table whilst still staying true to your traditional origins.

Tell us All you die-hard modernists out there, is there room in the heart for the modern pitched roof?

More: Modern Gable-Style Homes

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