Monday, October 29, 2012

Arch+Details: Ceilings

When it comes to Architecture there really isn't a single component that dictates the comfort level within a home or any other structure. Now, some play a larger role than others, but I feel there are a couple components that are taken for granted. In this weeks installment of Arch+Details I want to focus on one of the most under appreciated aspects of a structure: ceilings. It makes sense though, looking up is not a comfortable or natural position, but I think when people walk into a new home or structure it is natural as humans that we observe our surroundings in every direction. And from this observation our comfort level is created, so even though it is an overlooked aspect to the general public, architects acknowledge the importance ceilings play. And it is not just in the structural aspect, but the impact it has on the design, decor and overall comfort of a room. The last thing somebody wants is having to stare up at the ceilings when laying down in bed or on the couch and have the comfort level equivalent to that of a waiting room in a hospital. I hate the stucco ceilings my apartment has, and yes, it is a cheap and popular material when designing big projects with many units like an apartment building, but sometimes I feel like there are other materials that could've been used. That being said, I truly appreciate the attention to detail designers have with ceilings through the design process. Traditionally our notion of ceilings are flat and essentially a wall parallel to the ground. But it has becoming more popular to find a play between low and high ceilings, the incorporation of a sky light, an exposed frame and a variety of materials throughout the home. Joseph Gilday, the marketing director for Maryland's Gilday Renovations, states 'You walk into a space, and it either invites you to stay, or it repels you. So when you have good design, a room is visually appealing, yet it’s more than that: it has vitality. Ceilings can lend vitality to a space.'  If you have low ceilings there is a sense of suffocation, but if you have a mix of high ceilings than it adds another dynamic to the home. It impacts the air flow and comfort of the house. When it comes to public spaces in a house, there tends to be higher ceilings to take into account the higher foot traffic and bodies compared to more private rooms in a home. And if higher ceilings are not an option for various reasons than incorporating a sky light or exposing the frame adds to space either visually or literally. Lately it seems as though architects are using the past to inspire and create in the present and down the line in the future. Chapels and cathedrals interpreted ceilings as the heavens, so in classic designs there are decorative and structural examples of this interpretation. In The Pantheon there is a large hole at the top of the dome that reveals the sky, which for the religious structure, was more a structural feat in connecting heaven to earth. When it comes to decoration, the Sistine Chapel is probably the most popular example with the incredible paintings by Michealangelo. The incredible imagery resembles the heavens with scenes from a couple books from the bible. It is really interesting to see how each architect interprets ceilings, and an easy way to do so is seeing how much detail they put into the architectural component. It is important to take into account the overall design of the structure, because even though some ceilings may "appear" boring and forgotten, it doesn't necessarily mean that the architect didn't care. Check out the cool examples I found of ceilings!!
















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