Thursday, January 13, 2011
Always something new
A circle described by a radius, centered on my house, of no more than about fifteen kilometres describes the limits of how far I am likely to stroll within one day. The area is not so large but large enough to yet provide me with surprises that are not only a delight in themselves but also give promise of further interesting discoveries to come. On a recent stroll curiosity led me to turn onto a hitherto unexplored path along which I stumbled upon one such unexpected novelty.
New houses here, as elsewhere, are built to satisfy the maximum-for-minimum demands of a mean, acquisitive society. Moderated only by the ephemeral and invariably tasteless demands of fashion, many indeed most new buildings hereabouts are reinforced concrete boxes remarkable only for their homoiousia. It was a joy for me therefore to find, hidden along a track to nowhere, a building that was a so obviously amateur builder’s singularly delightful creative dream. My joy at finding this place was conditioned to some extent by the sadness of the place. Work on the unfinished house had been abandoned, apparently quite suddenly and some years previously. High on the side of a hill, the site has stunning views beyond Zapi and Finicounda to the Ionian sea. On this magnificent site the unknown builder had had built a conventional reinforced concrete frame. Thereafter, perhaps alone, perhaps with others, the builder painstakingly transformed the bare frame into a beautiful shelter and repository for much of his soul. As generally with houses here, other than those of the majority of Western European immigrants who bring with them fears exaggerated by mass-hysteria, the house was unlocked so I was able to enter this little Bower of Bliss and look with delight on the wealth of personal touches that had been built into it.
The house has but two small living rooms, one inside one outside. The inside room has a kitchen leading down from it, above which is a mezzanine sleeping space. The house has something of the feel of a boat; no space is wasted; benches double as lockers. A door from the inside living room lads onto a short outside corridor, off which there is a simple basic lavatory, beyond which the corridor leads into what appears to be an unfinished hammam. The house had been designed to be self-sufficient, PV panels are fitted to the roof and there are three water cisterns, each of which are the size of a small room.
Outside nature has begun to reclaim her own; plants have established in cracks in the concrete and a small garden has established on top of a metre square bag of sand which is presumably, as there are bricks and other building materials nearby, part of the last delivery to the site.
What, I wonder, is the story behind the sudden abandonment of this now silent site which must not so long ago have been an industrious hive of creative activity?