The need for durable and resilient roofs has fostered a strong market for roofing materials. Over the last two centuries, much has changed about the way we structure roofs. The change has mostly been driven by performance.
Wood and slate shingles and clay tiles were the predominant roofing choice until the mid-19th century, when metal and bituminous roofing systems made low-slope applications possible. During the 20th century, several new materials were developed for low- and steep-sloped roofs. Among them was the asphalt shingle, which arrived on the scene around the turn of the 20th century and continues to be the top roofing material for houses. After a period of market experimentation with various shapes, patterns, and textures, the asphalt shingle evolved in form to the three-tab version popular today.
To visualize the evolution of roofing products, Architect's article includes brochures, pamphlets, and journals from the digital Building Technology Heritage Library that explore how roofing systems have evolved throughout the 20th century.