Where is the space for dreaming in the twenty-first century? Lofty thoughts, like dreams, are born and live overhead, just as they have been represented in Renaissance paintings and modern cartoons. Ceilings are often repositories of stories, events and otherwise invisible oneiric narratives. Yet environments that inspire innovative thinking are dwindling as our world confronts enormous challenges, and almost all of our thinking, debating and decision-making takes place under endless ceiling grids. Quantitative research establishes that spaces with taller ceilings elicit broader, more creative thoughts. Today, ceilings are usually squat conduits of technology: they have become the blind spot of modern architecture. The twenty essays in this book look across cultures, places and ceilings over time to discover their potential to uplift the human spirit. Not just one building element among many, the ceiling is a key to unlock the architectural imagination.

Ceilings and Dreams aims to correct this blind spot and encourages architects and designers, researchers and students, to look up through writings organized into three expansive categories: reveries, suspensions and inversions. The contributors contemplate the architecture of levity and the potential of the ceiling, once again, as a place for dreaming.

chapter 1|13 pages

From below upwards

An introduction to Ceilings and Dreams
ByPaul Emmons

part |68 pages


chapter 2|9 pages

Cloud nine

A lover’s guide
ByDon Kunze

chapter 3|11 pages

From the Igluvigaq to the Sila

Ceilings in the Inuit imagination
ByÉmélie Desrochers-Turgeon

chapter 4|10 pages

Hagia Sophia’s dome

A mythopoeic dreamspace
ByTugce Akinci

chapter 5|11 pages

Dreaming the body

Filarete’s disegno
ByBerrin Terim

chapter 6|12 pages

Eleven angels in the ceiling of flames

Architectural speculations in the Ducal Library of Urbino
ByTracey Eve Winton

chapter 7|11 pages

Nightmares of broken ceilings

The shell, the god and the mold
ByKarima Benbih

part |72 pages


chapter 8|11 pages

Perplexing ceiling structures

Dreaming the details of the broken beam in the Chongming Temple
ByQi Zhu

chapter 9|11 pages

The plafond as a place of transmutation

Architecture of levity in the eighteenth century
ByLouise Pelletier

chapter 10|11 pages


Henry Chapman Mercer’s cast-in-place tile vaults and the invention of practice
ByLuc Phinney

chapter 11|12 pages

Ceilings of infinite extension

Konrad Wachsmann’s mediating “overhead”
ByEzgi İşbilen

chapter 12|13 pages

Under-standing counter-ceilings

The multiverse of gazing and listening in the ambiances by Carlo Scarpa and Luigi Nono
ByFederica Goffi

chapter 13|13 pages

Cracked but not broken

Material and culture of the glass ceiling
ByAki Ishida

part |92 pages


chapter 14|12 pages

The nightmare of condensation

ByJonathan Foote, Carolina Dayer

chapter 15|15 pages

Dreaming the fourth dimension

László Moholy-Nagy’s inversions
ByJodi La Coe

chapter 16|13 pages

Life, Superceiling

ByKieran Connolly

chapter 17|15 pages

Three ghosts and a baldachin

Boredom and (day)dreaming in two drawings by Saul Steinberg
ByAndreea Mihalache

chapter 18|10 pages

A theater of architectural monsters

BySam Ridgway

chapter 19|12 pages

The architect inside out

Reading the barrel-vaulted ceiling of Balkrishna Doshi’s studio – Sangath
ByPallavi Swaranjali

chapter 20|12 pages

Looking down to look up

ByMarcia F. Feuerstein