Flat roofs are indicative of several different types of architecture. When a flat roof is incorporated into an architectural design, it is usually to complement or accentuate the home's horizontal lines or to emphasize the landscape surrounding the home. Flat roofs are seldom completely flat, however. There is usually some type of gentle slope to allow for drainage.
Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Pueblo Revival architecture influence Southwestern style. These earth-colored homes feature adobe exteriors. Builders of the earliest Southwestern homes created adobe by mixing earth, water and straw and letting the bricks dry in the sun. Modern Southwestern homes use stucco to mimic adobe. Beams, called vigas, poke through the exterior walls of the home and provide structural support. Homes feature brick floors and recessed casement windows. Southwestern styles may feature canales, channels on the roof that carry away rainwater. Red clay tile is a popular material for roofing.
Modern homes often have flat roofs. The flat lines of the roof complement the broad, straight lines and bold structures that modern architects embrace in their designs. Stripped-down, free-form modern architecture emphasizes form and functionality over ornamentation, and a flat roof fits in well with the minimalist designs. Interior living spaces are fluid and free flowing. The modern movement prized advances in technology and manufacturing, making use of iron, concrete, steel and glass in homes.
Art Deco emphasizes geometrical, linear designs. Homes have flat roofs, or even multilevel flat roofs. The futuristic-looking homes have strong vertical lines and rounded corners that provide a distinct contrast to the flat lines of the roofs. Tiered elevations are common. Lavish Art Deco houses may feature ornamental sunbursts, zigzags or chevron patterns as well as exterior metal details. Bold horizontal "eyebrow" ledges accent windows, deflecting sunlight and helping to keep the interior of the home cool. Glass and steel are commonly used materials.
Flat roofs are ideal for homeowners who are seeking to create a green, or environmentally friendly, home. Solar panels are easy to install on flat roofs. A completely flat roof does not provide the right angle for the panels, but the panels can be easily adjusted to any angle for maximum energy efficiency. Flat roofs are ideal for colorful rooftop gardens or a carpet of greenery. Plants provide insulation and help maintain the home's internal temperature. A green roof also absorbs rainwater, preventing problems caused by storm runoff.
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