Model of apartment building
Brick facade
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Dayroom for a Naturalist

The owner, an author and naturalist, wanted to transform an existing, low-ceilinged (8'-0") and unfinished (concrete block) interior space into an inspiring room filled with natural light where he could work surrounded by favored objects and works of art.

The room occupies a pivotal location in a courtyard house set in a dense urban environment. While construction codes prohibited new windows in the walls of the existing house, there were no restrictions on clerestory or roof monitor additions.

The room opens out to the garden and opens up to the sky, making it a threshold between house and garden and between earth and sky.

The domed ceiling is painted with stars and surrounded by clerestory windows framed with mirror insets, extending the room infinitely. The mosaic tile floor is laid as a labyrinth, offering a contemplative ground. The walls, also animated by mirror insets, house a collection of seventy-five bird eggs, a set of four capriccio paintings and other objects of art.

The relation of the starry dome above to labyrinth below, with the display of natural and man-made objects in-between, creates a poetic universe expressed through one person's interests. The room stimulates creativity and dialogue, inspires mediation and satisfies one's need for comfort and well-being.


Washington, DC


David J. Brown


Anne Gummerson

Ceiling Mural

Howard R. Carr

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