Why people like high ceilings


In a home I get uncomfortable with anything too high, in an office a bit higher or drop-ceilings.

I went to an old WW2 blimp hangar and air museum in Tillamook and was really put in a state of unease by how big it was on the inside. I had a similar experience in the old Memorial Coliseum when the house lights were up. I’m much more agoraphobic than claustrophobic. Space would probably do my head right in.

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In one test, for instance, participants in the 10-foot room completed anagrams about freedom (with words such as “liberated” or “unlimited”) significantly faster than participants in the eight-foot room did.

Their use of words associated with ‘open’ makes me wonder if the ‘open’ environment functioned as contextual cue rather than an external creativity factor. The review also cites a study showing that “open” rooms received more ‘beautiful’ ratings than enclosed rooms. Okay. So what? My eyes prefer open rooms too but my psyche prefers an enclosed environment. The two aren’t necessarily correlated.

Nor do any of the studies probe for an interaction between environmental openness and the trait of ‘openness to experience’, a very robust component of the five-factor model of personality (FFM, aka ‘Big Five’). It’s plausible that the latter may be a resilience factor under the condition of enclosed environments.

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I quite agree. I love big, wide-open spacious areas with very high ceilings under some circumstances, but I also take comfort in cozy little hobbit-hole spaces as well. My house is 106 years old, and the ground floor has 9-foot ceilings while the second floor’s ceilings are under seven feet in height. If I had to live all day on the second floor I’d begin to feel uncomfortable and sore, but as it is, I enjoy going up there for a shortish period every day. If the ceiling were higher on that floor, it would somehow lose some of its charm.

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I think the best reason for high ceilings is better sword fights.


The architecture firm I’m with moved from a standard office with 9-foot ceilings about 3 years ago. Our new digs have 60-foot vaulted ceilings (and sky-lights! The whole ceiling is sky-lights!).

Shortly after the move, the principals/partners in the firm observed that the designs put forth by employees were far more polished, (we tend to describe them with words like “tight” and “sexy”) but overall, they make more sense, spatially: more attention is paid to flow, atmosphere, etc. They were always priorities, previously, but now they have oomph. Even our clients have commented on the shift in designs from the old space to the new.

In unrelated news, we also feel that - since we have an awesome space - we have to dress better.


Multi-club juggling practice.

Sword Juggling! Brilliant!

I like them because it is reassuring on a deep level to have the sense that at any sign of danger I can scamper up the wall and vanish into the leaf canopy.

Low ceilings and confined spaces… (shudder). There’s a reason Rikki Tikki Tavi’s most heroic moment is when he takes the fight into the cobra’s den.

High ceilings promote freedom, creativity, abstraction and high utility bills.

As much as I love the idea of one day having a chance to be a space tourist, I’m pretty sure I’d go catatonic if I went out on a space walk. The most terrifying nightmares I’ve ever had involve drifting away from the ship or station, and not having any RCS. Just slowly floating away from my tin can up in orbit, unable to stop, until the oxygen runs out, or the suit’s batteries go dead.

Back in the day I had a condo with 15 ft vaulted ceilings. The best use for which was an R/C blimp I mail ordered (pre-web) from American Science & Surplus. Today it would be micro-quad copters.

You have won the internet for today!

Awesome. Do you need an address to send it to me?

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