LOPCO Blogs

What is a ‘Monitor’?

Many homes have really cool features to them.

So many cool features in fact that even after almost 30 years of working in and around them, at times I forget what they are called 😀

Although I believe I hold my own, I am far from an expert in architecture and this is quite evident when these terms happen to elude me from time to time, perhaps even while being on the very tip of my tongue!

One really unique item that is found on many homes is the ‘monitor’.

Far from a ‘monitor’ that is used in conjunction with your computer, a ‘monitor’ on a home refers to a specific architectural feature designed to provide light, ventilation, or both to the interior spaces of a building.

Monitors are commonly found in older or traditional homes, particularly those with steep-pitched roofs. The purpose of a monitor is to introduce natural light, improve air circulation, and enhance the overall aesthetics of the structure.

A monitor typically consists of a raised structure, often rectangular or square in shape, positioned along the ridge line of the roof. It protrudes above the main roof surface and contains windows or openings on multiple sides. The design and size of the monitor can vary depending on the architectural style of the home and the specific functional requirements.

One of the primary functions of a monitor is to bring natural light into the interior spaces. The windows or openings on the sides of the monitor allow sunlight to enter the building, illuminating the rooms below. This can help reduce the reliance on artificial lighting during the day, leading to energy savings and a more sustainable living environment. The natural light that filters through a monitor can create a warm and inviting ambiance, enhancing the overall comfort and visual appeal of the home.

In addition to providing natural light, a monitor also serves as a means of ventilation. The windows or openings in the monitor allow fresh air to circulate within the building, helping to regulate temperature and improve indoor air quality. As warm air rises, it can escape through the monitor’s openings, while cooler air enters through lower windows or vents. This natural airflow can help create a more comfortable living environment, especially during hot summer months or in spaces with limited access to traditional ventilation systems.

Monitors can be particularly beneficial in homes with high ceilings or rooms located on the upper levels. These spaces often suffer from poor natural lighting and limited airflow, making them feel dark, stuffy, or claustrophobic. The addition of a monitor can transform these areas, making them brighter, airier, and more pleasant to inhabit. A monitor can provide a sense of openness and connection to the outdoors, as occupants can enjoy views of the sky and surrounding landscape.

Monitors also contribute to the architectural character and aesthetic appeal of a home. They add visual interest and create a unique focal point on the roofline, breaking up the monotony of a large expanse of roofing material. Monitors come in various styles, ranging from simple and understated designs to elaborate and ornamental structures, reflecting the architectural period or regional influences. I find homeowners often appreciate the charm and character that a monitor brings to their property, making it a distinctive feature which sets their home apart from others.

While monitors offer numerous advantages, it’s important to note that they require proper design, construction, and maintenance to ensure their functionality and durability. Proper waterproofing measures must be implemented to prevent leaks or water infiltration during rainstorms or snowmelt. Regular inspection and cleaning of the windows or openings are necessary to keep them clear and functional.

Monitors definitely seem to enhance the overall living experience, providing a bright, airy environment while adding a unique touch to the building’s design.

Whether it’s a traditional-style home or a contemporary dwelling, a monitor can significantly enhance the functionality and aesthetics of a property – whether or not you are able to remember what they are called when you are attempting to describe it!

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