aedicula – architect’s glossary

an “aedicula” is a term used to describe a small shrine within another building.  As in the photo above, it typically is a multi-columned structure, open on three or four sides and serves to focus attention and define a smaller space within a much larger one.

Over the years the religious dimension of an aedicula has diminished and it has become a term to define simply the formal structure of a columned little building within a larger space.  Because the aedicula focuses the space into a much smaller area of the room, it still in a sense, acts  like a shrine, differentiating the small space and ceremoniously highlighting the space within.

aedicula over bath in Charles Moore’s Orinda house

Of course the aedicula serves most of all to create a smaller, more intimate space while still being a part of the larger room.  This type of construction has become more relevant in residential design as the desire for larger, more open living spaces has proliferated.  Creating an aedicula within the family’s living space can celebrate what small function the family most honors being it a small reading space and library, a huge home theatre or, in the example above, the bath as a retreat.

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