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    Design through Narrative

    archtopus Oct 3 '06 0

    In the process of developing my thesis proposal earlier this year (last school year) I decided that it would be useful to think about my project through the eyes of someone who would be impacted by it. To do this, I wrote a brief fictional narrative with a somewhat dystopian tone. I'm not sure what value it has, but here ya go:

    It was the nadir of winter and a subtle fog wandered lugubriously among the rooftops, punctured every few minutes by a sudden gust from below. The landscape that stretched out before her was a muted grayish-green in the dim moonlight and the trees stood around her as stately silhouettes against the faintly illuminated darkness beyond. It was a cold night, much like many others before and after, but on this night, she had resolved to venture up here in the silence to ponder the future that had been constructed around and above her.

    She, just like her mother had decades before, grew up in the house down below. It was put together with bricks and wood and the occasional iron bar holding up a wall in some less confident places. It was the type of construction one often found in buildings of this type; ones that were old, decaying and, so the Department said, “historic”. The windows were leaky and the floor creaky and on nights like this of years before the family would huddle, shivering, around the little electric stove, clutching shawls and sharing stories about neighbors. Her little brother would gush about the great new tag he had seen over on Linn.

    It was different now. The neighborhood, and their apartment, was changing. One of the massive steel piers of the new infrastructure had cut right through Mom's bedroom so in compensation the Department agreed to fix up their little apartment. Now the rooms were warm and the floors didn't whine so much when she tiptoed to the bathroom in the middle of the night. In fact, on some nights the apartment was too warm; too cramped. That's why she found herself up here on nights like this””up in the park where the cold air was strangely refreshing and the moonlight played on the frosty foliage of the crops over in the Findlay District.

    She leaned over the edge of the building and peered down at the street below. It was still dirty, strewn with the marks of so much apathy. This was a city they often compared to Pompeii or London or New Orleans, but this city had never experienced a cataclysmic disaster. Rather, this city””no, this neighborhood within a city””had suffered the long crisis of neglect and despair. Up here it would be different. Or so They said. She looked around, peering through the light fog. She could see no one.

    In the summer, They said, the park wouldn't be so lonely. To be fair, the Project had finished only a couple months ago, in this cold of winter, and few people had made the effort to come up here yet. But the Department was adamant. They had learned from the mistakes of the past. This was a project that would really turn the neighborhood around. Parks and playfields and gardens, all up on the rooftops, connected in all directions; a network of nature like no one had seen before. It was a New Babylon of sorts””“Babylon Reconsidered”, as the papers called it.

    It all seemed like a great idea, but who could know yet? She was skeptical, but hopeful. Hell, hadn't her aunt already found a job helping manage the water squash harvests? True, things were looking a little better, but it would take time; she could tell. This spring she would be starting at a new school; one the Department had set up to teach the new trades. It was an exciting yet cautious step for her. Spring, it seemed, would be a cautious new step for the whole neighborhood.

    A gust caught her left side and sent a shiver through her body. She pulled her blanket more snuggly around her shoulders and made her way carefully back down the stairs, into the warm apartment.

     

     
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