The dictionary app on my iPhone alerts me every afternoon to a “word of the day.” The other day it came up with “opuscule,” a word I’d never before encountered. It turns out to be a derivation of the Latin word, opus
(a piece of literary or musical work, as in Mr. Holland’s Opus
). And, just as in Spanish where one can add “ita” to any noun to mean the diminutive of that noun, one can add “cule” in Latin to achieve the same result. So “opuscule” literally means “diminutive work” or, in this interpretation, a small, endearing literary or artistic composition.
There is a long tradition of architectural opuscule, particularly in general and residential design. For example, there are the garden follies of the 19th-century landscapes. In more recent times, there are observation towers, tea houses, garden sheds, detached garages and more. What they all have in common is their small size and endearing quality.
So the next time you start to plan a new project, be it a new home or backyard play area, consider your own opuscule and, as always, have fun.
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