Some of the domestic spaces and layouts that most affect us aren’t even rooms or sequences of them, but special microenvironments. Indeed, the true heart of a house or apartment can be a nook or fireplace, porch or furniture arrangement that architect Donlyn Lyndon . . . calls an aedicula. The Latin word originally referred to a miniature house or shrine, sometimes imagined as a hearth surrounded by four posts, that formed the ancient Roman home’s spiritual center. A modern aedicula can take many forms, Lyndon says, but it too is always a well-defined place that can accommodate several people.
aedicula requires some serious thinking. As Lyndon explains: ‘It’s a little house within a house that helps you understand the larger one. That marks a place in the home that you care about, or that your life moves around, or where you put the stuff you like best. . . . The aedicula sets up a counterpoint between the fluid, improvised, changeable aspect of domestic life and this thing that keeps saying, “There’s something central that’s always here.”’

From House Thinking (2006), by Winifred Gallagher.

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