They’re flat. And that simple fact opens up endless possibilities for how builders and property owners use flat roofs. But while most of us are familiar with people using their roofs for recreational purposes or solar panels, few of us would have imagined how these flat roofs were used.
THE WHITE HOUSE – Most people think the roof of the White House in Washington D.C. is just a place from which the Secret Service can keep an eye on fence jumpers. But, while we’re sure there are some ‘home security’ features on the roof, most people are not aware of its main use (aside from keeping the U.S. President and his family warm and dry).William Howard Taft, who was President from 1909 to 1913, added a solarium on the roof of the White House. Since then it has been used as a school room for Caroline Kennedy and it’s where President Ronald Reagan spent some of his recuperation time after an assassination attempt in 1981. (source: White House Museum)
SPORTS – A flat space makes for a level playing field. Many condominium and office buildings have sports facilities, including running tracks, on their roofs. But it’s not often you see the following sports played on top of a building:
Clay Court Tennis – To help publicize the upcoming French Open tennis tournament, organizers set-up a clay tennis court atop a Paris department store. No ball boys were lost diving for bad shots. (source: adirondacktennis.wordpress.com)
Soccer – Adidas Futsal Park sits atop a department store in Tokyo. Built in the run up to the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan, it is now a popular place to play. The park has memberships and charges over $200 an hour to play during peak periods.
Road Hockey – Yes, this is ‘only in the movies’, but in a famous scene from the cult-classic ‘Clerks’ (a Best Foreign Film winner at Cannes), the two main stars of the film close the shops where they work to play a game of road hockey with their friends on the roof of the shopping plaza.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE – Bands performing on roofs have been all the rage since The Beatles held their final public performance on the roof of Apple Records in London (on a flat roof, of course).
But few expected Buckingham Palace to be on this list of venues. As part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, the flat roof atop of the Palace was used as a stage, by the band Queen, to perform ‘God Save the Queen’, for Her Majesty, The Queen.
The uses for a flat roof are limited only by the imagination, and the budget. If you have lots of both, you can come up with your own unique use for a flat roof. But please be safe.