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"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
- William Gibson

Sky Ceiling  
  Ceilings that consist of large screens, on which are presented images of the sky.  

This is one of the cooler features of the Hogwarts castle from Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone; however, it appeared in this novel by Stanislaw Lem more than a generation earlier.

These ceilings are intended to solve a problem in a very organized future society; how do you have multi-level cities, while still making sure that everyone has the feeling of being outdoors?

"How do they work it so that the sky is visible at every level of the city?"

She perked up.

"Very simple. Television - that is what they called it, long ago. On the ceilings are screens. They transmit what is above the Earth - the sky, the clouds..."

"But surely the levels are not that high," I said. "Forty-story buildings stand there..."

"It is an illusion," she said, smiling. "The buildings are only partly real; their continuation is an image. Do you understand?" "I understand how it's done, but not the reason."

"So that the people living on each level do not feel deprived. Not in any way."

From Return from the Stars, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Not known in 1961
Additional resources -

I'm wondering if there are any earlier examples of this, either in sf or in the design world. The idea of a flat display the size of a wall is present in the parlor walls from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which was published in 1953. I also remember flat panel displays used as 'windows' (with a picture presented from outdoors) within an enormous city-in-a-building (an arcology) from Oath of Fealty, a 1981 novel by Niven and Pournelle.

If you can think of earlier (or other) examples, please list them in the discussion section below.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 5 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Return from the Stars
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanislaw Lem
  Tech news articles related to Return from the Stars
  Tech news articles related to works by Stanislaw Lem

Sky Ceiling-related news articles:
  - SkyCeiling Big Indoor Sky
  - SkyV SkyCeiling From The Sky Factory
  - Coleus LED 'Skylight' Dispenses Natural Sunlight Indoors

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