The elements in the design of a roof are: the material, the construction, and the durability.
Timber lends itself to a great variety of roof shapes. The timber structure can fulfil an aesthetic as well as practical function, when left exposed to view.
Condensation within the roof space is much more of a problem today due to: much less fortuitous ventilation due to tighter building envelopes with high performance windows and door and no chimneys leading. This tighter envelope means the air temperature in buildings has risen, the warmer the air in the building is, the more water vapour the air can carry.
Stone lintels have been used to support roofs since prehistoric times, but cannot bridge large distances. The stone arch came into extensive use in the ancient Roman period and in variant forms could be used to span spaces up to 140 feet (43 m) across. The stone arch or vault, with or without ribs, dominated the roof structures of major architectural works for about 2,000 years, only giving way to iron beams with the Industrial Revolution and the designing of such buildings as Paxton's Crystal Palace, completed 1851.
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