Few residential building styles are as iconic as the A-frame. In pure form, these homes are shaped like an equilateral triangle and feature steeply angled sides that create the roofline. These outer walls usually begin near the foundation and meet at the top in the shape of the letter A. Mixing an open floor plan with a farmhouse vernacular, their triangular shape surged in popularity through the mid-1950s through the 1970s. The A-frame came to symbolize an era of leisure when second homes became available to a larger swath of people. Today, these home are experiencing a resurgence with the rise of remote working and urban flight, as well as the desire for integrated construction.
At its core, it was the post–World War II era that really defined the A-frame as we know it today. The A-frame’s distinctive peak is usually made by rafters or trusses that are joined at the top and bolted to plates or floor joists below. The dramatic sloping roof usually formed a sleeping loft above the living quarters. The following projects showcase modern A-frame residential design through a series of section drawings. These drawings highlight the experience of people within the home and showcase both the iconic namesake A-frame and gabled roofs. Together, they also illustrate how designers are reinterpreting past traditions to create new spaces to live and unwind.
By Bromley Caldari Architects, Fire Island, NY, United States
Bromley Caldari turned a seasoned beach rental into a sleek hideout. Rethinking the iconic 1960s A-frame form, the team broke through the envelope of the building to weave a sculptural staircase through the airy three-story structure. In a complete renovation of the bayside A-frame on Fire Island, the clients wanted the removal of the staircase and were willing to sacrifice a bedroom or two to make it happen. As seen in section, the new staircase was tucked into two large bay windows staggered at different elevations on each side of the house with a catwalk balcony off of the master bedroom to connect the two sides.
By Strand Design, New York, United States
Resting quietly along the shorelines of a wooded lake edge, this modern A-frame serves as an escape into nature for the city-dwelling owners. With a modest footprint, warmth and volume are abundant. The design harnesses natural timbers, exposING structural members that span the full height of its dramatic form. Classic meets modern in this refreshing take on the vernacular Northwoods A-frame cabin. Utilizing a variety of steel panels, darkened clapboard and hints of bright natural cedar, this cabin blends seamlessly into its forested lakefront surroundings. As avid winter enthusiasts, the owner’s desire for year-long adventure was realized with this versatile getaway.
By Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, Vestfold, Norway
For this A-frame design, the client wanted a cabin for the whole family, but at the same time it needed to be divisible in some way. The solution was a cluster of three structures, which can be used individually. As seen in section, each of the buildings is defined as a clarified geometric volume, organized around the outdoor area that binds them together as one unit. Toward the northeast, a hill borders and defines the site, together with the view in the opposite direction. The spatial interaction between landscape and the structure creates a beneficial microclimate. This is reflected by the structures’ southwest orientation where the gable end is glazed.
By Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, Sweden
This house in the outer Stockholm archipelago was placed in a clearing with a high position in the landscape, on a plateau facing the sea in the north. The property has been in the family for a long time with a couple of small complementary buildings, a boathouse and a guesthouse, that has been used for vacation stays. As the family grew with a new generation, the need for a larger house with more space followed. The solution was an A-frame structure with a pitched roof volume in two levels. The home is divided into an open social area at ground floor and a more private upper level, with bedrooms and a playroom.
By Scott & Scott Architects, Whistler, Canada
This cabin was built as a weekend retreat for a family of snowboarders. The A-frame is situated on a steeply sloping rock bluff in a quiet residential area north of Whistler village. The neighborhood is made up of similar sized A-frame and Gothic arch cabins and chalets dating from the 1970s. In contrast to the more recent larger scaled residences in the region the cabin was designed around the owners’ and architects’ desire to work with the original scale of the early structures in the area. The structure consists of an internally exposed frame of locally sourced douglas fir rough sawn lumber of conventional size with solid strip structural decking which sits on the concrete base anchored into the bedrock.
By Cadaval & Solà-Morales, Canejan, Spain
This A-frame project seeks to recuperate the construction values of an old existing vernacular house which was made out of dry stone. However, the distinctive attributes inherent to this construction technique (compactness, massiveness, minimum openings, obscure interiors, weight) deny the extraordinary environment where it is located: on top of a mountain, with views to two different valleys that are faced by the two only façades of the house. The project elaborates on a series of interior horizontal partitions that are supported by two vertical containers that behave both as structural elements and as divisions of the continuous spaces.Judging for the Fourth Annual One Drawing Challenge is officially underway. Check out the Top 100 Finalists and stay tuned — we'll reveal the two competition winners in the coming weeks.