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Penthouse with swimming pool, New York

A penthouse (German: also penthouse , from the American , from Middle English pentis "small annex", from Latin appendix , old French apentis "annex") was originally a free-standing residential building on the roof of a multi-storey house. Today the term refers to attic apartments on the top floors of high-rise buildings , which often have particularly exclusive furnishings and occasionally jump back from the lower floors so that they are surrounded by a roof terrace. The term attic apartment is also used in Switzerland common.


Penthouse terrace in Heidelberg

When a penthouse apartment in the manner of a stacked storey steps back on several sides from the alignment of the storeys below, a surrounding terrace is created . Several such penthouses on one level can give the impression of terraced houses. The penthouse usually has a flat roof .


The penthouse developed as an independent form of urban architecture from the beginning of the 20th century. Related to this was the spread of the electric elevator , which now made it possible to conveniently access the top floor of high-rise buildings. While with townhouses above the location in the first or second floor main floor contained the most exclusive apartments and located under the roof attic , however, harbored simple servants apartments, the establishment of exclusive apartments on the top floor has now attractive. The architectural forerunner is the attic floor, a final upper floor above the cornice , which was often lower and had smaller windows than the floors below.

One example from constructivist architecture is Nikolai Miljutin's apartment on the Narkomfin communal house built by architects Moissei Ginsburg and Ignati Milinis from 1928 .

The luxuriously furnished penthouse of the 1940s and 1950s often had its own elevator and was characterized by its special equipment. The roof terrace, which can also be equipped with a swimming pool or a roof garden , often offers a panoramic view of the city. Since air pollution increased due to the massive increase in inner-city car traffic from the middle of the 20th century, the high-lying penthouse apartment with its fresher air offered another advantage.

The Cité Radieuse in Marseille, designed by Le Corbusier in 1952 after his conception of the "unit" ( Unité d'Habitation ), was conceived as a vertical, concentrated urban district with all the facilities required for living and recreational activities. On the roof terrace of the Cité Radieuse (and still are today with partially changed use), the penthouse-like structures housed the "follow-up facilities" (prolongements de logis) that could be shared by all residents , including a day nursery with outdoor area, swimming pool, gymnasium, sports hall, solarium and Common areas.


Huts on rooftops in Hong Kong

Irregularly erected houses and huts on high-rise roofs are also known, especially from major cities in East Asia . In Hong Kong there are entire hut settlements on high-rise buildings that are tolerated by the authorities because of the prevailing housing shortage.

In large Japanese cities, Shinto shrines are often found on the roofs of large public buildings.

An ancient example of a development that resembles a penthouse is the Ethiopian monastery complex on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem .

With a purchase price of a little over 90,000 euros per square meter, the 2014 built and up to then probably “most expensive penthouse apartment in the world” is located in Monaco . With 3300 square meters, spread over five floors and with a water slide from the dance floor to the round open-air swimming pool, it will cost over 300 million euros.

Web links

Commons : Penthouses  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Ernst Seidl (Ed.): Lexicon of Building Types. Functions and forms of architecture. Stuttgart 2006, p. 405.
  2. Michael Peterek: Apartment. Settlement. City. Paradigms of Modernity 1910–1950 . Berlin 2000, pp. 331-334.
  3. Above the rooftops of Hong Kong . In: Der Tagesspiegel , May 31, 2009
  4. The most expensive penthouse in the world is being built here . In: Welt Online , August 21, 2014, accessed March 22, 2015