VIDEO. Should we replace Paris’ traditional zinc roofs to combat the heat?

Paris is known for its iconic zinc roofs, but these roofs are becoming a nightmare for the residents, especially during heatwaves. Many of these roofs are poorly ventilated and poorly insulated, causing temperatures to soar inside the buildings. Some are even questioning whether these roofs should be preserved as part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage status.

One resident, Marco Vieira, shares his experience of living on the top floor of a building in the Marais district, where temperatures can reach over 30°C. He believes that investing in insulation may not be worth the effort, but suggests adding a second skylight to improve air circulation instead.

While zinc roofs are known to conduct heat, Edouard Avrillas, a roofing contractor, argues that the problem lies not in the material itself, but rather in the lack of proper insulation between the roof and the attic. Without proper insulation, any type of roofing material, whether it be zinc, tiles, or slate, would result in high temperatures inside the building.

As a solution, architect Tim Cousin is working with the Paris City Hall to test a new approach – green roofs on zinc. Inspired by similar constructions in Venice, Cousin aims to create a vegetated rooftop that offers shading and helps reduce the temperature. This would transform the predominantly hot and heat-absorbing surfaces of zinc roofs into cooling green spaces.

The hope is that by greening these roofs, the temperature inside buildings can be significantly lowered during heatwaves. In the coming years, the once uniform gray-blue view of Paris rooftops may soon be enriched with touches of green.

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