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7 Unique Roof Designs

The roofs of the world have served to act as a layer of protection for homes and belongings from bad weather, helped to keep homes warm and insulated and have also provided a design element, forming fascinating and elaborate pieces of architecture. Roofing is not only an essential, and arguably one of the most important parts of a building, it can provide many benefits for its occupants.

Roof designs through history – where the old meets the new

Roof designs have evolved throughout history, and today, all over the world, architects and designers are letting their imaginations run wild with some of the most imaginative, innovative, strange and beautiful roofing designs.

With sustainability rising ever higher on the priority list, modern designers also hark back through the decades at some of the most successful roofing designs that are still in existence today, performing as well and looking as good as they did when they were new.

We’ve rounded up a collection of what we think are some of the world’s most beautiful, strange and unusual roofing. Here’s our top seven strange and unique roof designs.

Saint Catherine’s Church, Honfleur, France.

In the small fishing port of Honfleur, near Le Havre, on the north coast of France, the roof of Saint Catherine’s church can’t help but catch the eye. Built in the 15th Century, it is the largest surviving wooden church in France. The separate bell tower stands high above the town square and the building is lined with stained glass windows.

The real joy of St Catherine’s, however, is viewed best from the interior. When the church was built, following the destruction of the former town church during the Hundred Years’ War, the local populace included many skilled naval construction workers.
Built using the same, shipbuilding processes, the construction of the church roof shows this clearly. The magnificent roof is reminiscent of an upturned ship and has now become a popular visitor attraction because of the double hull effect.

Unusual Roof Designs

Bob Hope’s House in Palm Springs

Designed by John Lautner and built in 1979/80, Bob Hope’s former home, located in the Coachella Valley, was inspired by the shape of a volcano, although it has been likened to a mushroom too! The huge curved design tops the 23,366 sq. ft property, and features include a large hole in the dome, providing a cave effect.

The magnificent roof covers the 10-bedroomed, 13-bathroomed property, which recently sold for $13 million. It kept the house cool in the desert temperatures in addition to being one of the most unusual roof installations we’ve ever seen.

Unusual Roofing


Tongkonan structures originate from the Toraja society in Indonesia and often feature impressive saddleback roof structures shaped like boats with large protruding gables. The structures are typically built of bamboo and wood, with decorated side panels.

Tongkonans were traditionally reserved for only the noble members of the Toraja society and the common people were not allowed to build them. They lived in smaller homes called banua, which literally translates as ‘home’. These did not have such amazingly elaborate roofing designs, however!

Unusual Roofing

Marques de Riscal Vineyard Hotel, Spain

The luxury Marques de Riscal Hotel in Elciego, Spain features a unique roof design that gives the stunning impression of ribbons cascading down over the hotel’s 43 guest bedrooms and blending into the gardens below. The 21st Century ‘Chateau’ is constructed from titanium and stone cladding and was designed by the architect Frank Gehry at the oldest winery in the Rioja region.

The feature roof is an architectural triumph and attracts visitors from all over the world.


The Eden Project, England

In southwest England, the Eden Project is a landmark that can be seen for miles and often catches the attention of anyone travelling by plane in the skies above. The hexagonal bubbles that form the roof cover the two, huge biomes (The Rainforest Biome and the Mediterranean Biome) and has been constructed with responsibly sourced materials.

The Eden Project began in 1995 as a hole in the ground, formerly a china clay pit that was economically ‘done’. The hexagonal bubbles design idea was borne from a need to create a roof that would settle over any irregular shaped surface. The structure required 230 miles of scaffolding during construction of the roof, which earned the Eden Project a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1998. That’s an awful lot of scaffolding!


St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

St Stephen’s, also acceptably known by its German name, Stephansdom, has been cited as being the most important religious building in Vienna, standing on the ruins of two early churches, the first of which dates from 1147.

The architecture of this building is impressive enough on its own, but the ornately patterned roof is what brings many tourists to admire the structure. Over 300ft long, and using 230,000 glazed tiles, the roof design construct is a huge mosaic, featuring the coat of arms of the City of Vienna and of the Republic of Austria.



Brazilian Leaf House, Rio de Janeiro

Designed by Rafael Palatano in 2006, the Brazilian Leaf House has been designed to perfectly regulate the temperatures and allow trade winds to pass through the roofing.

Sitting on the beach, this beautiful building is a popular tourist location, attracting visitors not only to enjoy the ambient temperatures but to admire the architectural triumph that is the roof. The roof has been designed to sit comfortably on the structure in the shape of tropical banana leaves, which provides the ingenious ventilation system.

The hotel roof design also incorporates a clever rainwater harvesting system and is considered to be one of the most intelligent eco-friendly solutions for the modern world.

There we have it, our top 7 most unusual and beautiful roofing systems in the world. What do you think? As roofers, you must love roofing as much as we do. Have you seen any unusual roof designs you’d like to share?