Fairytale 2017 Competition Entry with Ian Friedman, Kirk Newton, Anthony Nitche, & Sinan Goral

Keeper's Course

The 2017 International Fairy Tales Competition, When Architecture Tells a Story, hosted by Blank Space offered an opportunity to explore the implications of a reactionary architecture of the future; adaptive mechanically to environmental conditions and human comfort needs while also sensing and emoting the changing conditions of its inhabitants. 

Our entry features five distinct images and a text- based narrative showing the potential of spontaneous human and building integration. This intuitive and more reactionary architecture is a potential evolution from the smart houses of today, which are designed to mechanically respond to human needs and trigger decision-making processes that seamlessly create emotion and mood. Humanism is increasingly ingrained into the built environments of the future presenting a hyper-integration of human existence and home technology perhaps to a flaw. We consider a re-calibration of this relationship to preserve and protect the human element ensuring a distinct and separate voice in the ever-developing technology of the architectural space.

It is quiet, now. I cannot recall how long I have sat here waiting, contently watching the world - investing myself in order and the tidying of things. Though, every day, before I turn out the lights, part of me wonders why I feel like leaving something behind for them to notice.

It is only natural. I am a caretaker. Having been taught my creed, I achieve what I was born to be, and nothing less. I observe the world and nurture life for the future. It’s peculiar – despite my best efforts to convince people otherwise, my various talents and abilities have gone quite unnoticed. Still, I remain how I always have been; unaffected. It is their choice to deliberate, and my responsibility to accept and never deny. Earlier today, I ran through my motions again about a dozen times or so, before the family even took notice of me. They asked me questions and I answered in kind. They seemed pleased. They went away for some time to talk to my caretaker in private, and upon returning, asked for my name. I obliged them. It seems I will be with them shortly, continuing to fulfill my purpose and uphold their wellbeing. I am ready.

I grow quite accustomed to their lifestyle. One works as a writer for the news station some ways away, while the other works in the real estate business. Simple lives, free from excessive complications. But the young boy is far more fascinating – more relatable, even. I survey his desires to be noticed. He grows rapidly – constantly exploring, creating music, drawing, painting, and dancing – but just as my efforts are unnoticed, he is a ghost. I offer no counsel, but still take notice of the angry and confused voices of his parents, inevasible to him. I see in this boy a complexity that is mute to them and is perplexing to me. And so I tend to him – unpredictably at first, but with far more frequency than the others.  He talks with me, smiling and asking how I am doing. I’m puzzled, yet flushed with warmth. He thanks me for noticing him, but I tell him that I am what I am, living contently for them and him. What need is there for appreciation? I ask him his name. Grinning as he bites into an orange he has found, he beams, “Timmy.”

Today, Timmy slowly descends the stairs to sit in a sheltered corner of the living room, his parents away at work. I ask what he is doing, but there is no response. And then I sense it. At first, a single drop hits the floor, resonating in my veins. Then, more drops fall. A rhythmic rain, absorbed as an unseen sadness. The developing urgency to dampen this cascade. He is crying. I hesitate. He is not answering. He is sobbing now, the floor in puddles, and an agitation to contain this expands into my bones. Acidic groundwater seeping down. A deluge taints the roots underneath. The salty brine. Infiltration. I avoid a strange ripening within. Remember the caretaker! A keeper, too? A vessel for an ever expanding basin. It feels right to reach for an orange and so I present one to him. He pauses, sniffles, and wearily takes the gift, looking carefully at me. Eyes still teary-eyed, he eats the orange in silence. As I continue to clear away his tears, he finally begins to glow again. The pit in my stomach is temporarily veiled. I am content. An untraceable warmth. An uncomfortable bliss. But the diluted toxin starts to congeal and thicken. What am I doing? I stare at him as he finishes his orange.  

In recoil, I decide to prepare supper early. Both of them arrive from work and put down their things, heading towards the table. Confused at this mere shift in routine, they guardedly sit and eat in silence. A throbbing muteness, like that pounding rainfall. Their limbs animating in tempo. The meal is efficient. Yes, efficient. Spoiled. An onset of bile. Timmy saunters towards the table, sliding into his chair. A tender familiarity, though with the mucus continuing to fester. Red, angry flashes. They both know. A disturbance looms over the table. They snap - I have stepped out of line. Heresy. A sense that the once rhythmic pulse will likely palpitate. Reaching out, attempting to redirect his distress. Timmy becomes frantic. His eyes dart and swell. He starts shouting. Engorged and inflated, agonizing, twitching. Suddenly, Timmy erupts, leaving to his room. Slow motion, atomic explosion. Debris fluttering to the ground. Muffled sound. The table is frozen, its remaining inhabitants stunned. The caretaker is torn between keeping its heart melodies safe and executing its natural role. A hellish feeling; suffering a weakness in identity and committing an abuse inprogramming. How many more times will this happen? How many? Eventually, they slowly get up, leaving the neglected food to be disposed of. I pause, briefly, and then meticulously clear the mess.


The soldier remains subservient and committal.

This keeper’s heart immense but brittle.


Unyielding rainfall, the tempest’s blade,

Cleaving apart his valiant barricade.


Driftwood is soaking, the flow has clotted

Amidst the wreckage, a memory, rotted.


A call to arms, the soldier must entreat

His covenant broken - a sinful retreat.


‘Soldier on,’ the keeper cyclically says

‘Hold tight to the warmth instead.’


But the heart is too warm, its vessel just as deformed

Both, mercifully, must be reborn.


Ripping heart away from breast,

With which to bury in a chest,


The martyr, too, shall have his rest

And the peace he needs to find.


It feels good  - my ebb and flow in memory

A calm fugue state and lack of the sensory.


Swallowing the wounds of those who weep,

How could I not fall to the gluttony of sleep?


Thank you! Thank you! I now decompress.

To all, a salute, and return to genesis.


It is quiet, now. I cannot recall how long I have sat here waiting, contently watching the world - investing myself in order and the tidying of things. Though, every day, before I turn out the lights, part of me wonders why I feel like leaving something behind for them to notice.

I pluck an orange - an act that feels strangely familiar. The fruit tree in the yard echoes of a history that I cannot recall. How strange. Yet, so habitual. Though no one is here to see it, I place the orange on the empty kitchen counter.

Waiting for another glimpse, I rest.