Second Draft: Soren sat and watched the sun going down through the West wall of his childhood home. Most of the lime render that once coated the inside walls lay in pieces on the floor, caustic dust catching the back of the throat with each breath. The insulation that once filled the wall now forms a powdery black mat in the bottom of each brick, having long since decayed into flakes of dead plant matter. The setting sun filled the empty room with an amber glow, and despite its poor state of repair, Soren though it was quite beautiful. He could imagine that if his mother could see this, she would have forgone the lime render and insulative properties of the foamed algae that used to fill the walls. The cold would have been a small price to pay for such beauty.
Soren watched as points of light bled across the swooping lines that formed the walls of the house. On the far wall he can see the book shelves which his parent hand carved when he was a child. He remembers with great clarity the day his mother danced the house into existence. They had left their costal home and took the EV to the site of their new home. When they arrived, the designer, Elise maybe, had already set up MoCap equipment - three tripods as well as two speakers, all positioned at the edge of the plot of land. Soren’s father had spent every evening the previous week at the clearing removing leaves and twigs, levelling small mounds and filling in troughs.
Soren had known that the day was going to be special as soon as he saw his mother wearing one of her dancing dresses. This was the only time he ever saw her wear a dress when she wasn’t on the way to, or coming back from the dance class that she taught at weekends. As well as the dress she had also taken her hand made Argentinian dancing shoes, but had not been able to wear them on the day. Despite his fathers hard work, the ground was just too soft and uneven for high heels.
In the weeks preceding, Soren’s mother had spent many hours practicing the moves that would become their home. Soren’s father had watched the piece and studied the subsequent forms, and together they created a space that they felt they could inhabit. At the time, fabbing was still relatively new - the possibilities seemed endless. Many people started creating site specific dwellings, some with little thought, simply pacing out a floor plan and letting expert systems create the rest. Others took their time, working out how to imbue their home with as much of their character as possible. For Soren’s family, the means of creation were obvious.
Soren’s mother had looked odd in her flowing dress and trail shoes. Anticipating the inappropriateness of her Argentinean heels, she had practiced the piece in her running shoes until she felt sure that she could preform the movements as effortlessly as on the dance floor. Soren and his father sat on a log in the lightly wooded space beside the river, and watched his mother talking to the designer. The designer then left and walked over to one of the tripods. Music began to fill the clearing, and after a few moments making sure she was in the right spot, Soren’s mother lifted her arms into the air and began the pieces. She flowed anti-clockwise around the clearing, ducking, swooping and pirouetting. It was clear that their new home would not to have ‘sides’ as such. Their new dwelling would be a curved space without end.
As the music reached a crescendo and Soren’s mother neared full circle, a startled wood pigeon tool flight through the clearing. The shape it created as it punched through the still imaginary North wall was chosen as one of the bathroom window. When she had finished, Soren’s mother and father spent the next hour moving around the space with the designer, pointing and pulling at invisible objects. Despite his young age, Soren knew they were working together in virtual space. Whenever he saw adults making silly hand gestures, reaching for things that weren’t there and mumbling to themselves, they where usually wearing glass. Virtual space was always the explanation.
After what seemed like an age Soren’s mother called for him to join them. The designer had moved over to one of the tripods, and Soren was asked to stand with his mother and father in different places in the clearing. He had felt like he was having his photograph taken by an elderly relative. And now, thirty years later, he sat watching shadows trace the inset form of his mother and father and his eight year old self in the West wall of his family home.
Soren had seen the house grow brick by glass brick over the months since the woodland dance. Sometimes he and his father rode out to the fabbing farm on the coast to pick up bricks when they were ready. The farm took sand from the beach and fused the bricks into shape with sunlight - ‘Smoke and mirrors and bloody big lenses’ as his father used to say. If it had been sunny there could be as many as ten bricks to collect, each one individually numbered, each one a different shape. They would ride to the clearing with the bricks and his farther would collect water from the river and make lime cement. Together they would lay them in the sequence in which they were created, week after week until the house looked like the virtual version his mother had shown him on the day of the dance.
The house had been empty for five years. Soren’s mother had passed away in her early fifties. His father had eventually remarried and now lived in France. Soren had a family of his own back down at the coast. They had used the house from time to time but it reminded him so intensely of his mother he couldn’t bare it. He missed her so much.
The plot had been sold to two young teachers from a nearby village. And so the cycle started again. The couple wanted to create their own dwelling, and would use the silica of Soren’s family home to achieve this. Soren knew this was the right thing to do. And anyway, few families wanted to live in a spaces so saturated with the character of the previous owners.
The fashion for danced houses passed relatively quickly, a phenomena of the novelty fabbing offered. Dwelling quite quickly drifted back to being boxlike, albeit with incredible material and energy efficiencies. Soren’s current house needed no heating for all but the coldest days of the year, and all of the plumbing was created as the same time the house was printed. They were also much easier to sell.
The house was due to be recycled tomorrow. A water powered grinder had been set up by the river; each brick would be taken and ground back into sand ready for re-fabrication. Soren sat and watching the sun go down and wondered what the young couple would create to in place of the house the house he grew up in. But as the light faded, he knew he would never return to see it. He didn’t want anything to replace the memory of the danced house.