7 (Almost) Famous A-Frames We Absolutely Adore

Occasionally short on space, A frames are forever rooted in boundless ingenuity.

Anyone who’s seen The Sweet Hereafter is likely to remember two things. Firstly, how heart-achingly depressed they felt afterwards. Secondly, that amazing A-frame house Wanda and Hartley Otto lived in. If not for all the snow and tragedy you, like me, might have thought “Hey, I could live there.”

Mountainous and beachy places are the most likely locales for A-frames, partly because of the low cost of constructing one – often as a second home – and from an eco-angle, their high ceilings provide excellent ventilation and allow plenty of natural light into the home. The characteristically steep sloping roof fares particularly well in extreme winter climates.

From Sagaponack to the Pyranees, here are seven famous – or almost famous – A-frames we think we could live in too.

The Reese House
Sagaponack, NY

Credited as being the house that capitalized the American A-frame housing boom from the mid-1950’s to the 1970’s, it was designed by the legendary architect Andrew Gellar in 1955.

Gassho-zukuri Houses
Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama

In Japan, the A-frame structure is referred to as “Prayer-hands construction.” The most famous cluster of gassho-zukuri houses can be seen in the UN World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama.

Al Purdy’s House
Ameliasburgh, ON

Known as one of Canada’s most important poets, Purdy’s pretty A-frame on Roblin Lake was constructed out of second-hand lumber and became the most famous writer’s house in the country.

The Weeks House
Louisville, Tennessee

Designed and constructed in 1950 by his father Felder Weeks, Paul the son and his wife Jeannine enlisted architect Brian Pittman to renovate it as a summer house. It was gutted to its original structure and two years later resulted in a thoughtful renovation and guest house expansion.

The Vanna Venturi House
Philadelphia, PA

This house, designed by architect Robert Venturi for his mother, is recognized as being one of the first prominent works of the postmodern architecture movement. It was constructed between 1962 -1964. It’s not very big, only about 30 feet tall, but architectural historian Vincent Scully called it “The biggest small building of the second half of the twentieth century.”

House at The Pyrenees
Aran Valley, Spain

This sexy house was commissioned by a father and son team who wanted to transform a dry stone house into a modern second residence in the Spanish Pyrenees. Built atop a vernacular dry stone house, architects Cadaval & Sola-Morales melded new design with old to create a sustainable home in this most extreme climate.

The Allandale House
Somewhere in the forest

This unusual A-frame was designed by William O’Brien Jr. who describes it as a “cabin of curiosities,” housing wines, rare books, stuffed birds and an elk mount. Another score for taxidermy chic.

A-frames can be short on space, but they are highly adaptable structures that allow for boundless creative collaboration between architects, designers and the residents themselves. Really, the roof’s the limit.


Images: Archifile, A|N Blog, Japan-i, Derek Shapton, Architectural Record; Chestnut Hill Historical Society, Cadaval & Sola-Morales, William O’Brien Jr.




K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.