An A-frame house is a style of house characterised by a roofline with steep angles that resembles a triangle, or the letter ‘A’. The roofline usually begins at or near the foundation line, with the two sides meeting centrally at the top.
A-frame houses are frequently constructed using natural building materials such as stone and timber. They are often built according to architectural styles such as Arts and Crafts, or in keeping with the local vernacular architecture, for example in Scandinavian or log cabin design.
A-frame houses often provide less living space than traditional domestic buildings, as they tend to be compact, and have a smaller footprint on the first floor. As a result, they are often used as holiday homes or as second homes.
The prevalence of A-frame houses surged around the mid-1950s to the end of the 1970s. This was due, in part to the inexpensive materials required for building, but also the adaptability and simplicity of the structure, enabling architects to experiment with different designs. In addition, the post-World War II economic boom, particularly in America, meant that many people had more disposable income for holidaying and for buying second homes.
A-frame houses typically have exposed rafters, and the upper rooms must be designed to accommodate the sloping sides of the roof. Many A-frame houses include a balcony at the upper level, and extensive windows are common, taking advantage of views to the front or rear.
A design challenge of the A-frame house is the lack of real wall space, as the roof may slope nearly to the ground. This can mean that fixtures and fittings, or decorative items such as artwork, are difficult to place, leaving a lot of blank and unusable surface.
An advantage of the A-frame house is that it is very durable in heavy snow, as the steep-sloping roof prevents excessive loads accumulating. The house is also suitable for hot climates, as the majority of the living space tends to be on the lower, cooler level.
Over the last few decades, architects have experimented with modified A-frame styles which include more wall space and different roofline angles.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:
Featured articles and news
UK-GBC green paper proposes more powers for cities on new-build housing.
The Pompidou Centre – not a monument but an event.
The Chartered Institute of Building restructures and launches 29 new local hubs.
Designing Buildings Wiki talks to the founder of the world's first indoor biophilic gym, now open in London.
£1.3bn Swansea Bay project to be backed as a 'pathfinder' for other tidal lagoon projects.
Designs released for a proposed Las Vegas stadium to entice the Oakland Raiders.
Have a look at these award-winning concept designs for a thermal bath in Latvia.
Flagship project no longer "a going concern" according to the Garden Bridge Trust as funding slows.
How the work of 20th century urbanist Jane Jacobs continues to resonate in light of the government's garden village plans.
New landmark for the Ecuadorean capital of Quito utilises a sinuous facade mold system.
Have a look at this glass piano and violin building in China.