As well as being an essential part of every property, roofs have more than just a practical purpose. As examples from around the world show, they can be a work of art, too. Here are just a few of the best:
The Sydney Opera House
One of the most famous structures in the world, the roof of the Sydney Opera House is instantly recognisable. With its iconic half shells, the design was the work of competition winner Jørn Utzon, who is claimed to have constructed his plans from 30 “rejected” designs by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen – perhaps the reason why the finished product has such a disjointed appearance.
The design team involved in the construction took 6 years to find a realistic and economically viable way to build the shells, which were of unspecified size in Utzon’s initial plans – a process that saw one of the first uses of computers in structural analysis.
The outcome was 2,400 precast ribs and 4,000 roof panels, manufactured and fitted on site by the Hornibrook Group Pty Ltd, who also helped with some of the interior work.
Millennium Dome/O2 Arena
Built to mark the year 2000 celebrations, the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena) is a familiar sight on the Greenwich skyline. Despite being sturdy enough for James Bond to roll down in a famous scene in 1999’s The World is Not Enough, the roof of the dome is actually constructed as a large big top, with the weight of the entire structure coming in at less than that of the air contained within the building.
Made from PTFE-coated fibreglass material, the domed roof is 365m in diameter and 52m high in the middle, representing the number of days and weeks in the year in which the building was open respectively.
Wimbledon’s Centre Court
Staying in the UK, another famous roof – one that also serves a highly practical purpose – is the retractable structure over Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Fitted in 2009 to help combat the unpredictable weather of the British summer, the Wimbledon roof was designed by SCX Special Projects Ltd, with the mobilisation mechanism plans drawn up by Fairfield Control Systems. Responsibility for maintenance and upkeep is shared between the two.
Despite allowing play to continue during periods of rainy weather, it takes roughly 45 minutes for the Wimbledon roof to be put into place and achieve an atmosphere and temperature that is conducive to playing.
Sticking with the sports stadium theme, Munich’s Olympiapark complex was built for the 1972 Games, and is instantly recognisable for its sprawling mass of buildings, complete with ‘skinned’ roofs. Although lightweight and not constructed from solid materials, the roofs of the park’s various sporting venues are robust and can be walked upon, as well as reflecting the sun in a visually attractive manner.
The Thean Hou Temple
A number of locations for religious and spiritual worship could have made this list – particularly across the Eastern world – but the Thean Hou Temple in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur combines elements of both the modern and traditional in its design. Despite having the appearance of an ancient monument, Thean Hou was actually built in 1987 in honour of the Cantonese goddess of the same name, and its resplendent roof includes a feast of coloured tiles, deep curves and many a dragon.