Roof lantern

roof lantern is a daylighting architectural element. Architectural lanterns are atop a larger roof and provide natural light in the space or room below. In contemporary use it is an architectural skylight structure. The term ‘roof top lantern’ is used to describe the decorative lanterns atop taxi cabs in Japan, designed to reflect the cultural heritage of Japanese paper lanterns .


The glazed lantern was developed during the Middle Ages. Roof lanterns of masonry and glass were used in Renaissance architecture , such as in main cathedrals . In 16th-century Franceand Italy , They Began use in orangeries , an early form of a conservatory structure with tall windows and a glazed roof section for wintering citrus trees and other plants in non- temperate climates .

Post-Renaissance roof lanterns were often made of timber and were often prone to leaking.

Initially wood-framed in the 18th and 19th centuries, skylights became more popular in metal construction with the advent of sheet-metal shops during the Victorian era . Virtually every urban row house of the late-19th and early 20th centuries relies on a metal-framed skylight to illuminate its enclosed stairwell. More elaborate dwellings of the era shown in the background of the Roof Lantern, in which the humble ceiling-window design of the skylight is elaborated into a miniature glass-paneled conservatory -style roof cupola or tower. [2]

Present day

Modern skylights benefits from glazing and sealing techniques, plus the development of high performance insulated glass and sealants, which reduce energy loss and provide water-tightness in the same way as conventional skylights. Typically, roof lanterns are constructed using wood, UPVC gold aluminum, or a combination of those materials.

They serve as an architectural feature, providing unique views to the outdoors. Traditional architectural styles characterize most roof lanterns in the UK. In the US, where the term ‘custom’ is often used, modern styles of roof lanterns are also common in the vernacular building.

See also

  • References Conservatory (greenhouse)
  • Cupola
  • Daylighting
  • Passive daylighting
  1. Jump up^ Horn, Walter. “Romanesque Churches in Florence: A Study in Their Chronology and Stylistic Development”. The Art Bulletin. Flight. 25, No. 2 (Jun., 1943), pp. 112-131.
  2. Jump up^ “Skylights & Roof Lanterns” .

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