Bring Back the Real A-Frame, "The Right Shape at the Right Time"

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
Log cabin with an A-frame section and a patio courtyard in front

JamesBrey / Getty Images

On Inhabitat, Bridgette Meinhold shows Lindal Homes' new MAF series, which I assume stands for Modern A-Frame. She writes that " Lindal’s new designs are compact, bold, and feature full-height glass walls, loft space (in one of the models), and the same no-nonsense building process that the original A-frame house was known for."

Gray home with an A-frame roof and a green yard in front
Lindal Homes

Lindal calls this "a modern update" of the A-frame. I think that's a bit of a stretch. But it is a good reminder of what was so wonderful about the original A-frame.

History of the A-Frame

These buildings were incredibly popular in the late fifties and sixties, when the middle class boomed and had enough money for recreational properties, whether on lakes or as ski chalets. They were easy to build, incredibly efficient in their use of materials, and they were almost all roof, and nothing is cheaper than shingles. Since they were recreational properties usually built from kits, they tended to be small in those days. Because the outdoors is your living room.

The blurb for Chad Randl's wonderful book a-frame, notes:

"A" was the architectural letterform of leisure building in postwar America. Eager to stake out mountain and lakeside retreats, an entire generation of high-end homebuilders and weekend handymen found the A-frame an easy and affordable home to construct; its steeply sloping triangular roof distinctive and easy to maintain (almost no exterior walls to paint!). Fueled by A-frame plans and kits, the style became something of a national craze, with tens of thousands of houses built.

Furthering the Design

Reese House under construction, black and white photo
Alastair Gordon

One of the nicest A-frames was designed by Andrew Geller, the architect of happiness. The Elizabeth Reese House in Sagaponack, New York, was built in 1955. Alastair Gordon describes Geller's thinking in his obit for Geller, who died on Christmas day in 2011:

Reese House under construction with an A-frame style
Alastair Gordon
His theory was that the sloping walls of the A-frame would be “storm proof”– less resistant to hurricane winds. That was the idea anyway; it also happened to be the cheapest way to build a roof. Complaints from the local building department were countered with the explanation that the unusual shape of the house was derived from local potato barns.
Interior view showing A-frame roof space and a living room with seating and a fireplace
Alastair Gordon

This was an A-frame. Meaning, it's structure is exactly this, an A Lindal should bring this back instead of co-opting and I think totally screwing with the term.