An A-frame house is an architectural house style featuring steeply-angled sides (roofline) that usually begin at or near the foundation line, and meet at the top in the shape of the letter A. An A-frame ceiling can be open to the top rafters.
Although the triangle shape of the A-frame has been present throughout history, it surged in popularity around the world in the post-World War II era, from roughly the mid-1950s through the 1970s. It was during this time that the A-frame acquired its most defining characteristics.
A-frame buildings are an ancient form known in Europe, China, and the South Pacific islands sometimes called a roof hut and were simple structures used for utilitarian purposes until the 1950's. Architects Walter Reemelin, John Campbell, George Rockrise, Henrik H Bull, and Andrew Geller set the stage in the early 1950's designing A-frame vacation homes. Andrew Geller turned the old idea of the A-frame into a new fashion in 1955 when he built an A-frame house on the beach in Long Island, New York, known as the Elizabeth Reese House. Named for the distinctive shape of its roofline, Geller's design won international attention when it was featured in The New York Times on May 5, 1957. Before long, thousands of A-frame homes were being built around the world.
A documentary titled Call Me Andy, previously expected to come out in the first few months of 2007, chronicles Geller's life. It discusses the design of the first A-frame, along with Geller's other designs. A broadcast of the documentary is anticipated to air on PBS.
Rise in popularity
The post-World War II popularity of the A-frame has been attributed to a combination of factors including Americans' extra disposable income, the inexpensiveness of building an A-frame structure, and a new interest in acquiring a second home for vacationing. Another factor contributing to the rise of the A-frame included the adaptability of the structure itself, which enabled architects to experiment with more and more modern designs. A-frames were a perfect medium in which architects could explore their creative side, since they were relatively cheap to build. Additionally, many people preferred the idea of a 'modern-style' vacation home to that of a 'modern-style' primary home. A-frames became available as prefabricated kits lowering the cost even more and were sold by Macy's department stores.
After the rise of the archetypal A-frame, architects soon began experimenting with new designs; this led to what became known as the modified A-frame style.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to A-frame buildings.|
- A-frame Style from Picture Dictionary of House Styles in North America and Beyond on About.com, by Jackie Craven
- A-frame Home - An A-frame home in the Hollywood Hills owned and restored by Nicky Panicci
- A-frame House Website about an a-frame house located in Phoenix Az.
- "A-frame" Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
- Randl, Chad. A-frame. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. Print.
- Fred A. Bernstein, "Andrew Geller, 87, Modernist Architect, Dies", New York Times. December 27, 2011. accessed 1/26/2014