Despite the existing stereotypes about the thatched buildings the innovative architects today are introducing new ways of using the material in modern eco-construction with a unique rustic design of the roofs and exterior. The thatch as sustainable building material when applied and maintained properly is also durable and has great insulation qualities. With the fire prevention measurement and regular inspection, the risk of fires in a thatched house can be minimized.

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‘Thatch’ meaning originally roof covering in Anglo-Saxon is one of the most ancient construction techniques. Although the number of the thatched buildings has been declining rapidly since the 19th century, in pursuit of the means of sustainable construction methods and building materials quite many architects are finding new ways for utilizing the thatch and creating absolutely lovely projects. Despite the stereotypes about the hatch as an insecure material, it can be durable and reliable if maintained and handled properly. The durability of the material depends on the thatch type and technique used for the construction. 

Types of the thatch roofs:

  • Long straw roofs are from the wheat or rye cereal straw and last up to 30 years;
  • Combed wheatreed (devon reed) named so due to the resemblance to water reed is also based on the cereal straw and lasts about 30 years;
  • Water reed is the most durant thatched roof made of the wetland plant lasting for about 40-50 years.

Thatch maintenance

Although the thatch will serve well from 20 years it will require maintenance about every 10 years. The roof may still remain functional but will look somewhat shabby if it is not fixed from time to time. The thatched parts of the roof requiring maintenance may be destructive to the building material, if not handled on time. 

Thatch fires

When people consider getting a thatched property, the thing that often comes to mind first is the fire risk. Although the risks of catching fire in a thatched building are not so high, the difficulty in extinguishing truly exists, as the fire spreads very quickly over the material. That makes fire prevention measurements a high priority for this type of building. Bad insulation or breakage of the chimney bricks are among the most common reasons for the fires in a thatched house and have to be done properly. Regular inspections of the chimney and electrical wires will help maintain safety. A system of heat sensors around the chimney will notify of a problem at an early stage. 

Advantages of a thatched building

  • Great insulation allowing the save on electricity bills;
  • Durability. Properly maintained the thatched roofs may last up to 60 years;
  • Flexible and soft material allowing to build in different sizes and shapes;
  • Eco-friendliness. A natural material, which does not require machinery for harvesting and is not toxic;
  • Additional value to the property. A thatched house may be a great investment creating an additional price for the building;

Design with a character. The material ages well creating natural forms and looks particularly warm and rustic. 


The most spectacular modern thatch projects all over the world:

  • circular school with a thatch roof in Senegal by Toshiko Mori,

  • Museum & Biodiversity Research Center in La Roche-sur-Yon, France,

  • a group of condominiums in Diamond Island Community Center in Ho Chi Minh City by Vo Trong Nghia Architects,

  • a terrace thatched roof of ‘The Tent 1’ resort in Natural Heritage Area Trang, Vietnam,

  • a thatched facade of the Nest at Sosus guesthouse in Namibia by Porky Hefer,

  • thatch stylization of Mayan architecture for Punta Caliza boutique hotel in Mexico by Estudio Marcias Peredo,

thatched exterior of 2-Under-1-Roof House Eva Lanxmeer Culemborg in Netherlands by negen graden achitectuur.

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