Drafting a Simple Reflected Ceiling Plan is a tough job. Thus, the job of an architect is often to view their project — be it residential or commercial — in a holistic manner. It requires them to look at a specific space from a 360-degree perspective, one that allows them to get a glimpse of their structural layout as well as give them ideas to execute any iterations if necessary. One such process of giving the architects, designers or engineers an opportunity to look at a space in a holistic manner is the reflected ceiling plan.

The reflected ceiling plan is primarily a tool which allows the participants to look at the proposed layout from right above — a bird’s eye view if you will — literally from the ceiling through a mirror that is set up about a foot under the level of the ceiling. This orients the user to the view from the top, while also giving an idea of elements such as lighting fixtures along with other mechanical attributes that are relevant in a space. It also helps to create a balance between the flooring and the ceiling.

Like most architectural tools, the reflected ceiling plan is instrumental for not just the architect, designer or the engineer, but also other people who are an inevitable part of the construction process. Those include electricians and plumbers, among other employees who help service the construction requirements. The reflected ceiling plan is a crucial part of the documents that come with the floor plan and construction and depicts a drawing of the space as seen from the ceiling.

Let’s look at the various ways that come handy while drafting a simple reflected ceiling plan:

The Reflected Ceiling Plan Is the Nucleus of the Original Idea

reflected ceiling plan - Level 1 Reflected Ceiling Plan for IU School of Medicine

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, Stephanie Richard, via Flickr

The reflected ceiling plan, quite simply put, is one of the core elements of the original design. Not only does it put the orientation of the floor-ceiling balance into perspective but it also brings to attention the context of the structure within the setting it is placed in. These pose as a rather interesting, even if different, reading of the layout by putting emphasis on a perspective that one might miss in an ordinary setting. It’s a macrocosmic orientation of the floorplan and is solely instrumental in ensuring a kind of linearity and a comprehensive arrangement of the original floor plan.

The Reflected Ceiling Plan Is Not a Part of the Floor Plan

The logical reason why the reflected ceiling plan exists is to avoid over congestion on the floor plans. This is for the architects, designers, and engineers to preen over logistical requirements, which doesn’t exist on a regular floor plan since its purpose is to draw the structural layout. Additionally, symbols are often used in order to declutter further and move away from over-explanation in a simple draft.

The Reflected Ceiling Plan Is Not a Mirrored Reflection of the Floor Plan

When architects or designers talk about the floor-ceiling balance, they definitely do not mean that the ceiling should be a reflected or reverse image of the flooring. The idea is that the orientation remains the same, however, the purpose of the ceiling is to complement the floor, but it its own different way.

Establish the Ceiling First and Then the Rest Will Follow

reflected ceiling plan - Kindergarten Addition Reflected Ceiling Plan for Commercial Design Studio Subject

Image: CC by A-SA 2.0, Stephanie Richard, via Flickr

In order to kickstart this process, the architects or designers first establish the scale and material of the ceiling. The details such as lightings and other fixtures come later. But first, the contractor or the builder must establish the ceiling system, which brings forth the structural value of the height of the ceiling. This, in turn, helps establish the rest of the fixtures such as partitions, lightings, grilles, cabinets, and speakers among others.

It’s obvious that a ceiling is one of the most functional aspects of a space, considering it supports various components, along with the heft of the structure itself. Normally, the designer points out the material to be used in this element to the client.

The ceilings come in the form of attached systems, suspended and exposed. Attached systems usually employ wallboards made up of gypsum, which are installed on the ceiling and the flooring using nails or screws. This material must be tested and approved in order to see if it can withstand the pressures or the heft of the applications that are attached to it.

Suspended systems involve hanging the unit above the flooring in order to insert a space between the ceiling and the roof. This is especially helpful in order to conceal various wirings and circuits. Architecturally, one sees the use of materials such as wood, glass fibers or metal grids in order to contain the service applications.

The exposed system entails an architectural feature involving wooden beams, among other materials. In this case, the ceiling plays the role of supporting panels in order for the wirings and lightings to be installed beneath the last layer of sheathing.

Add Dimensions and Scale to the Reflected Ceiling Plan

reflected ceiling plan - Floor Plan and Reflection Ceiling Plan for Octagon House, Ice House Washington

Image: Public Domain U.S., Steven Teiler, via Wikipedia Commons

A rudimentary phase of this process is to figure out the ceiling-floor balance and then add those dimensions to the layout in order to place several elements that might otherwise be overlooked in the process that follows after. The dimensions include not just the height of the ceiling but also the slope or slant rendered across the project, or special aspects such as vaults or embellished applications. This also brings to attention the level of insulation within the space.

It Gives an Idea of the Materials to Use

The reflected ceiling plan ideally must give the architect or builders an idea of what materials to use. Materials form an important aspect of construction and are singularly responsible for holding together the entire structure. The materiality establishes grounds for not just the spatial denominations, but also things such as the grid lines. The ceiling construction is very important and the material determines what appliances and accessories could be viable.

Bringing in the Lights

The main purpose of the reflected ceiling plan is to also allow the designer or architect to look at the most significant aspect in an interior space — lighting. Lighting accessories will vary across various projects. Some prefer the indirect lighting sconces or hangings, while others love the opulence of a chandelier. Some veer towards flooring lightings, while many choose the conventional ceiling accessories. It’s important to know that the construction of the lighting system is separate from the one used for the building. Which is why it’s pertinent to question where and how those fixtures should be installed.

The reflected ceiling plan allows for the architect or the interior designer to ascertain the structural layout of the space and inserting the lighting requirements accordingly. Architects or designers list out the electrical plans, which comprises the use of architectural tools to lay out the requirements.

Features such as switches, dimmers, electrical connections, panel boards and so on become the defining factors of this process. In fact, the switchboard needs to be customized according to the individual needs and desires. Another aspect that also comes into play is the conservation of energy; by reducing the number of circuits and wiring, sufficient steps can be taken to conserve energy, while also ensuring that there is no cluttering of space.

The engineers also figure out the outlets and insets of wiring for telephone service, along with television network cables, AC installation, CCTV cameras, fire alarm machines, along with others. In a complex structure, the lightings are a more elaborate process and aspects such as power, signal, and other details are drawn up.

Add Doors to the Plan

Reflection Ceiling Plan, Curtain Fabric Detail and Designed Furniture including Dining Table, Dining Chair, Coffee Table, End Table, and Ottoman at Cedric and Patricia Boulter House

Image: Public Domain U.S., Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., via Wikipedia Commons

The reflected ceiling plan is a perfect way to gauge the placements of doors since it is directly responsible for setting the tone of the spaces that are being built in the project. Most architects draw manually and draw their iterations according to the dimensions. Aspects such as the length of the door and its swing are essential also because the installment of electrical modules across space is done accordingly.

Outlining the Wiring and Circuits Within the Plan

What use is planting lighting accessories when the wires that illuminate them haven’t been drawn up? This is when the reflected ceiling plan comes in handy. A part of the engineering process, the wiring and circuits are established when the designer or the architects decide the placements of the sconces or lighting accessories. Accordingly, the number of switchboards, circuits, and wiring are drawn by the engineer or the builder.

Add the Miscellaneous Prerequisites

The final phase of drafting the reflected ceiling plan is to add in all the requirements of a project. Installments of sprinklers along with smoke detectors become an essential part of this process because of the laws that require you to have them in every housing. In a commercial structure, for instance, the architect or the engineer will be required to include emergency exits as well as service entries right at this stage, along with the coordination with the common vents.

As you can see, a simple reflected ceiling plan is an integral part of every design plan and gives you a very good perspective of the space being designed because of its top-down view. Ensure that you pay heed to this aspect of your design plan if you want to make the most out of your space!


Featured Image: CC by A-SA 2.0Stephanie Richard, via Flickr


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