“Open everything” hits critial mass.

December 18, 2011

Way back in 1976 I opened the attic space of  a single story wing under a gabled roof.  The new ceiling was finished with tongue and groove that matched the old wood cross ties that were exposed in the process.  The wood absorbed sound and the cross ties maintained the human scale of the the room. The affect was dramatic but subtle.  At that exact moment in time the idea of,  not only “open above”, but of  “open everything”  hit critical mass and took off, until now it drives whole building projects.

Here, as in almost all builder dwellings,  the soaring ceiling is achieved at the expense of human interaction and sense of place.  Did you ever eat dinner in a restaurant when you were the only customer?   The feeling of exposure is the same.  A good architect can design an open ceiling that avoids this pitfall.


  1. I was at a dinner party given by an acquaintance with a brand new 3600 sq. ft. builder house in a development. The “Great Room”, a lavishly furnished towering drywall marvel was open to the kitchen and dinette below and a hallway and game room above. I noticed that the only thing in the great room was the echo of the noise made by all the guest who were happily crammed into the kitchen and dinette. The view from the great room was surreal, like standing in a shopping mall looking into a crowded shop.

  2. I just added a section on “human-scale” in my humble house design blog. Would love some comments from you on my site. I too love atrium ceilings, but find that it is easy to lose the sense of home if things get too big. It is one of my complaints against modernist houses is that often the architects have so much big open space it no longer seems like a home. Of course classical architects can fall into the same trap.

    See my site at http://www.house-design-coffee.com/human-scale.html because I really would love to get some cross-postings going with you. Good luck.

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