A-frame building

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The Bennati House, in Lake Arrowhead, California. Rudolph Schindler's original A-frame design, 1934.
An example of an A-frame house in Gillette, Wyoming
Traditional A-frame thatched house (palheiro), Santana, Madeira, Portugal
An A-frame house owned and restored by Nicky Panicci in the Hollywood Hills, an example of an architectural A-frame.
A historic photograph of an A-frame sod roof house in the Netherlands. Image: Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands 20309407 - RCE

An A-frame house or other A-frame building is an architectural house or building style[1] 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 from roughly the mid-1950s through the 1970s. It was during the post–World War II era that the A-frame acquired its most defining characteristics.


A-frame buildings are an ancient form known in Europe (e.g. cruck frame construction or grubenhaus) China, and the South Pacific islands sometimes called a roof hut and were simple structures used for utilitarian purposes until the 1950s.[2] In 1934, R.M. Schindler built the first modern A-frame house, for owner Gisela Bennati, in Lake Arrowhead, California.[3] Architects Walter Reemelin, John Campbell, George Rockrise, Henrik H Bull, and Andrew Geller helped to popularize Schindler's idea in the early 1950s, designing A-frame vacation homes.[2] In 1955, Andrew Geller built an A-frame house on the beach in Long Island, New York, known as the Elizabeth Reese House.[2] Geller's design won international attention when it was featured in The New York Times on May 5, 1957.[4] Before long, thousands of A-frame homes were being built around the world.[5]

The Abbey Resort in Fontana-on-Geneva Lake, Wisconsin claims to have the world's tallest wooden A-frame.

Rise in popularity[edit]

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.[2]

Another factor contributing to the rise of the A-frame included the adaptability of the structure itself, which enabled architects to experiment with more modern designs. A-frames were a useful 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, which led to what became known as the modified A-frame style.

Residential examples[edit]


Commercial examples[edit]

A-frame roof Wienerschnitzel restaurant in Whittier, California

Educational examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A-frame" Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
  2. ^ a b c d Randl, Chad. A-frame. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. Print.
  3. ^ "The (R.M.) Schindler List". Archived from the original on 2016-09-26. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
  4. ^ Fred A. Bernstein, "Andrew Geller, 87, Modernist Architect, Dies", New York Times. December 27, 2011 Archived March 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. accessed 1/26/2014
  5. ^ "Starting A Roofing Business". Archived from the original on 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2021-04-29. Thursday, 29 April 2021
  6. ^ a b c d e f "A-frame / 1950 - 1990 / Washington State Examples". 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Alexandra Lange (September 22, 2017). "The A-frame effect: Not just another house, but a way of life". Archived from the original on October 14, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "Northcrest Historic District Listed in National Register of Historic Places". May 5, 2017. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  9. ^ document
  10. ^ "Agenda". Park City Municipal Corporation. October 16, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-04-16. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  11. ^ "Travelers Rest Motel". SAH Archipedia. 17 July 2018. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.

External links[edit]

  • 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 (archive) about an a-frame house located in Phoenix, AZ.