It is a commonly held belief by non-architects (and even some architects) that gabled roofs are inherently better than flat ones. The argument typically goes that a gable demonstrates a ‘form follows function’ sensibility, easily shedding water and snow using geometry and gravity. So, flat roofs might leak. While that’s true, this video blows the roof off the topic by taking a finer look at some points that might change your mind. This includes Louis Sullivan’s original reason for writing the phrase “form ever follows function,” as well as the ability of flat roofs to offer outdoor public spaces, supporting green roofs, structural simplicity, wind considerations, among many others. There’s also another, competing functional/formal reason for why a low slope roof might be more prudent than a more aggressive slope, even in snowy areas like Chicago.
Architecture with Stewart is a YouTube journey exploring architecture’s deep and enduring stories in all their bewildering glory. Weekly videos and occasional live events breakdown a wide range of topics related to the built environment in order to increase their general understanding and advocate their importance in shaping the world we inhabit.
Stewart Hicks is an architectural design educator that leads studios and lecture courses as an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also serves as an Associate Dean in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts and is the co-founder of the practice Design With Company. His work has earned awards such as the Architecture Record Design Vanguard Award or the Young Architect’s Forum Award and has been featured in exhibitions such as the Chicago Architecture Biennial and Design Miami, as well as at the V&A Museum and Tate Modern in London. His writings can be found in the co-authored book Misguided Tactics for Propriety Calibration, published with the Graham Foundation, as well as essays in MONU magazine, the AIA Journal Manifest, Log, bracket, and the guest-edited issue of MAS Context on the topic of character architecture.