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Exploring the Fascinating History and Functionality of Flat Roofs

AAR Flat Green Roof
May 31, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

By Cayden Wemple.

By Cayden Wemple.  

Flat roofs can be a fun, private place to spend some relaxation time, but they’ve been used over centuries for more than just leisure.  

When you think of modern flat roofs, you might think of them as a perfect space to set up a relaxation area with some chairs and coolers, but flat roofs serve more than just a leisurely purpose, and they date back to before biblical times.  

According to Arch Daily, flat roofs can be dated back to the Sumerians in 4,000 B.C.E. The Sumerians were considered the first modern civilization and occupied the territory of modern-day Iraq and Iran. They built religious temples that were widely used and featured flat roof designs. One of these temples was the Ziggurat of Etemenanki and it made it possible for the scribes to observe the solar system from a clearer perspective.  

More civilians started to take note of the architecture of the buildings, and they began to build flat roofs for their residential homes. The roofs started to become multi-facetted and the idea spread from the Sumerians across the middle east and into Greece. Depending on the culture and topography of the area, the use of the roof space would change. 

For example, in Greece, residents’ homes were often dug into cliffs and the roofs became practical places to hide from pirates and other possible raiders. In densely populated areas with narrow streets and buildings that were close together, civilians used flat roofs as an added space for domestic activities where they could do some of their chores such as laundry. The influence spread to Spain, Portugal and the rest of Europe where it became popular to have flat roofs as a leisurely space. According to Britannica, flat roofs spread to the Americas in the 19th century and once waterproofing materials such as steel and concrete were more widely introduced, they became the ideal choice to cover warehouses, office buildings and more.  

The modern flat roof can be used as a great space to put air conditioning units on as well as solar panel racks. One of the other advantages is that the materials for flat residential roofs are often less expensive than more traditional sloped roofs. This includes EPDM rubber and thermoplastics. Of course, you can’t forget about the modern-day luxuries of leisure spaces: barbeques, gardens, sports watching areas - the possibilities are endless! 

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About Cayden

Cayden is a reporter for RoofersCoffeeShop, MetalCoffeeShop and AskARoofer. When he isn’t writing about roofs, he’s usually playing guitar or writing songs for his musical endeavors.



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