|The Mansard roof has become synonymous|
with the streetscapes of Paris.
The mansard roof first appeared in France early in the 16th century, when Parisian flats were taxed on the number of stories they contained. Legend has it that the steep front slope was used to hide an additional story, thereby duping the taxman. However humble its origin, the mansard soon appeared uptown as well, where it graced such Gallic landmarks as the Palace of the Louvre.
Beginning in the 1620s, the French architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666) made such prolific use of this roof style that posterity eventually linked it with a corrupted form of his name: mansard. The charismatic shape remained a staple of French architecture throughout the Renaissance, when it was used in ever more elaborate forms.
|The mansard very quickly moved upscale, as can be seen|
at the Palace of the Louvre (designed by a whole series
of architects over the centuries, though culminating
in I.M. Pei's very un-Mansartian glass pyramid).
|During the Modernist era, a mansard roof|
signified a style that was fusty, outdated,
and, well, a little creepy—such as
Norman Bates's house in "Psycho".
Got a 60s or 70’s-era mansard on your house? If so, you should feel privileged— you’ve got an architectural feature that traces its lineage all the way back to the Louvre.
|The mansard roof made yet another comeback, peaking|
as the red-hot style of the 1970s. Some examples worked,
Incidentally, a few highfalutin’ academics like to use the term “Second Empire” for Victorian homes with mansard roofs—a reference to the roughly-commensurate reign of Napoleon III.
Don’t be fooled. It’s the same old roof with a fancier name.