Tropical Roof Design – Accessorizing the Plain Asian Thatch Roof

May 9, 2017 WorldMaster



As you walk through the streets of you exotic travel destination, your hosts welcome you with tropical fruit and a dizzying dance to drumbeats and brown skinned dancers gracefully displaying the movement of their tradition. In a moment in the humid evening air, it rains. And it reminds you that you are in the heart of South East Asia.


The houses in South East Asia have a common feature in their architecture: thatch roofs. This is an element that generations of builders in their locale have passed on from generation to generation. There are areas in South East Asia that feature a strong identity and ornamentation on their Asian houses.


As designers, we are sometimes tasked to find inspiration from the culture and develop a new application into our architecture. While there are many countries with distinct design characteristics, there are villages which leave us little room to draw from. This article is a second part of the series on “Deconstructing the Gable”, a pun on deconstructivism and apply it to the plain hipped and valley or gable design of Tropical Asian Houses.




In the design of the Tropical thatch roof, two things must be considered. The first is that the thatch roof functions as a drain to take rain water from the house and direct them in a classic Zen move and two, the thatch act as a cooling membrane that stops the heat. This also means that in any design, we should consider wind interaction with the house, in case our design clashes with this purpose.


Here are the accessories we can use for the Tropical Thatch Roof. 


1. Gutter Design.


Most Asian Design have stone or wooden carvings that can be applied onto the roof fascia. We may also introduce a functionality with the gutter design to move the water take for example a chain.




2. Skylight


Vernacular Architecture does not include plastic roofing or glass for skylights. The introduction of these new materials can give a refreshing take on the building design.





3. Air Vents


In the tropical environment, the emphasis of the design is in managing air flow. And these are typically at the upper part of the house near the roof. Incorporating air vents into the design is a big potential.



4. Wood Tiles and varying Grass Thatch Materials


Most of the thatch color would be brown earth colors. Using wood tiles to create breaks on different parts of the roof can add an interest feature into the design.





5. Detail Ornament and Finials


Modern Accessories that can added on the roof include ornaments, wooden cross bars and finials. This details can be easily seen from Japanese and Korean Architecture but can be applied and altered to fit the design.


There are many features that can be integrated into the simple gable design of thatch roof. While it is easy to copy the designs above, we caution to always apply good taste and aesthetic composition. Using that will never go out of style!

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