/ The story is part of Fairy Tales 2018 architecture competition. /
The newspaper that brought him his biggest chance to shine lay silently on the drawing table. It had been months since he read the little printed advertisement and felt the flicker of triumph in his chest. Even then, before applying, he knew he would get it. This was what he had been striving for all his life.
THE CONTEST FOR A PROJECT ON THE LAST GREEN PIECE OF LAND IS NOW OPEN. FOR BRIEF REGISTRATION PLEASE CONTACT THE STATE BUILDING AGENCY.
This morning he received the news – they had chosen him to design the building that would turn a new page in the history of humanity; it would be the last building to stand on a natural piece of land.
For a long time people had been perfecting their environment – taming nature in cemented trees and artificial lighting, constructing ever higher buildings to accommodate the overflowing population, turning litter into fuels and energy. The whole world was now one vast terapolis, embracing all seven continents – the dream of one big union come true. Every inch of land was covered in architectural genius, some buildings spanning for miles in both directions. The most luxurious hotel in the world – the Himalayan Excelsior – had also conquered the skies for several miles in height.
After months of traveling and observing the world, this is where he came to find inspiration – the only place where he could see the world in its full brilliance. He booked the apartment on the top floor and arranged for no interruptions. For months he had been interacting with different people and studied a myriad of places; now the solitude would best allow him to analyze his findings. It seemed appropriate that his masterpiece, the building that would outshine all others, would be born here, with the most beautiful view in the background.
Beautiful is what it truly was – behind the thick curtains he could see the exuberant wide world. During the day, people would go about their daily business, wide streams of dots moving around, hurrying, quivering, pushing against each other like atoms. Evenings they would flow slower, unhurried, a more relaxed flux of tiny ants headed to the residential areas. But nights was when the view would take his breath away – lights glimmering like diamonds in the windows, and the artificial snow distributed so that it masterfully emphasized their glistering allure..
Even so, sometimes he would feel there’s something missing.
He spent days drawing in his sketchbook. People’s faces, building’s ornaments, street perspectives – everything would flow freely from his pencil, but when he tried to sketch an idea for the building, he would always hit a wall. It was frustrating, angering. Was it possible that even after all the beauty he had seen the last months, inspiration would still flee him?
Eventually a decision formed in his mind. One slow and uneventful afternoon he went down the miles of floors that divided him from the ground, and started walking towards the last green piece of land. Last time he had visited was at the beginning of his trip – a bright morning full of fresh excitement and energy. He walked for hours and hours and it was almost night when he reached the place.
Tired from the walking, he sat down, taking in all the noises and colours of the busy streets around him, of the buildings and the people, of the artificial trees and the wind trapped in their concrete shafts. Somehow, he had to make his building both unite and overshadow everything around it. With the coming of night, he lay his head back and his eyes met with the sky.
What he saw there was beyond his wildest dreams. Small dots of light, dispersed as if through millions of miles, were twinkling and trembling, fighting against the darkness of the night. The sky was a sky but it was also an ocean, deep and infinite, a dark, tight embrace around the world. The little shiny spots – he remembered reading long ago about something called stars – seemed so gentle and silly, yet withstood a darkness that was billions of years old and looked as if it was going to swallow them anytime. And yet, there they were, glimmering and dancing, dousing the world in the pure joy of living.
This was all the inspiration he had needed. Finding his notebook full, he turned his pockets in search of something to sketch on, found an old forgotten napkin, and drew his idea in one breath. It was all he ever dreamed of, perfection turned into a building.
After months of hard work the construction was finished. His masterpiece was ready to shine like a perfectly polished diamond. He had had almost no time to sleep during the planning and everything that followed; only small naps that felt more like passing out between breaking ground, construction, talking to the media, HVAC installations, detailing, furnishing.
Tomorrow was the big day. The official ceremony would begin in the morning, and in the evening his masterpiece would shine in its full magnificence.
That night rest eluded him for a long time. His mind ran excitedly through the last months, then through the last-minute details. When his eyes finally closed with the quietness of sleep, it was almost morning. A dream embraced his consciousness…
… His mind was shaping a beautiful scene. He was in a glass cube up above the clouds. All around him he could see the sketches from his notebooks on the transparent walls. There was no ceiling – what did he need a ceiling for, since up here among the stars it never rained? The cube was floating in the air and he felt so light, so free, like there was no gravity. Down there, he could see the brilliant bright city spanning under his feet. Up above, the stars were lighting up new worlds. He was right where he was supposed to be – between his inspiration and his work, in a transparent cube above the earth. Alone with his dreams in a wonderful place where he could revel in the two most beautiful sights, one man-made and the other – nature’s gift.
Something pulled at his chest, a thought he couldn’t quite put his finger on. One of the sketches of his masterpiece caught his eye. It stood right in front of him, almost reaching out of the cube. Behind the glass and all around the building millions of stars flickered as if breathing, highlighting and amplifying the beauty of his work…
Suddenly he heard an eruption of voices, and the dream left him.
It was dark outside and he could see them, people standing in awe before the building on the last green piece of land, his perfect glowing creation. Thousands of enchanted eyes filled with the radiance of the most splendid gem in the world – his building alight.
He went outside and looked up, taking it all in, the brilliance, the perfection, the form that followed function that followed form, a splendid, striking masterpiece, an ode and glory to the human genius, the single shine in the sky, and he felt empty and numb.
SO THIS WAS HOW ONE STAR COULD CONCEAL A WHOLE UNIVERSE OF CONSTELLATIONS.
Teodora Todorova + arch. Hristo Rizov + arch. Hristo Tritakov