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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system used (which is often related to climate and availability of materials) and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable. A gable wall or gable end more commonly refers to the entire wall, including the gable and the wall below it.

A variation of the gable is a crow-stepped gable, which has a stair-step design to accomplish the sloping portion. Crow-stepped gables were used in Scotland and England as early as the seventeenth century. Examples of the crow-stepped gable can be seen at Muchalls Castle and Monboddo House, both 17th century Scottish buildings. Other early examples are found in parts of Denmark and Sweden.

Gable ends of more recent buildings are often treated in the same way as the Classic pediment form. But unlike Classical structures, which operate through trabeation, the gable ends of many buildings are actually bearing-wall structures. Thus, the detailing can be ambiguous or misleading. See: John Ruskin and The Seven Lamps of Architecture.

Gable style is also used in fabric structure design, with varying degree sloped roofs, dependent on how much snowfall is expected.


Gable end roofs are among the worst roof designs for hurricane regions. Not only do gable roofs easily peel off in hurricane winds, but according to one hurricane survival guide book, a gable end "catches wind like a sail."

When wind flows over a gable roof it behaves much like a wing. Lift is created on the leeward side of the roof.  The flatter the roof the more likely this will happen. Steep roofs tend to cause the wind to "stall" as it goes over the roof and breaks up the effect. The addition of a "vertical fin" to low pitched roofs will also help.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gable" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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