Short answer: Ceilings.
Long answer: Ceilings have devolved from being the focal point of a room to being a zone for mechanical equipment. In all the world’s greatest spaces we’ve always looked up in awe. Where our gaze was once met with fantastical vaulted ceilings, remarkable truss structures, or distinctive decorative treatments, today we typically find acoustic tiles, ductwork, and fluorescent strip lighting. Having abandoned the ceiling as a canvas for creativity with the dawn of the technological era, we’ve had a hard time taking it back. Today, it’s hard to compete with all that mechanical equipment when all you’re arguing for is a blank white surface. But a compelling vision of a space designed to make the ceiling its primary feature can enchant even the most pragmatic minds. There is good reason to be stubborn: since we seldom rearrange or redecorate the ceiling the way we do the rest of a space, what we create overhead lives a long life.
This short excerpt was taken from Rasmus Wærn & Gert Wingårdh's new book, "What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions." This week, we're sharing seven questions from the book, with one new excerpt released each day. "What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions" will be on sale starting September 1st.