In April 2014, I led a four-day writing workshop with a dozen graduate students at Miami University. The subject: The Architecture of Stories. The assignment: Write a story inspired in both form and content by a significant architectural structure.
I’ll be posting excerpts from the stories along with info about the architectural structures. Here’s the first one!
Architectural Inspiration: Meera Sky Garden House, Singapore
“The concept of Sky Garden House is strongly influenced by the ambition of enhancing the occupant’s quality of life. This is largely achieved by the roof gardens on every level. As well as having direct access to these, interior spaces have large areas of glazing with views out over the gardens to the sea and sky.” (from Archello)
Click here for more views.
The Story: Excerpt from “Nobody Belongs Here Less Than You” by Michael Stoneberg
When he begins walking toward the house, it surprises him. He doesn’t have a plan, but he knows there’s a pool running along the front of the house, and that submerged basement windows look out into it, and he wants to look into the basement. The ground-level yard slopes up to those picture windows where the man and woman are watching TV, but with the lights blazing, he knows they’d only see the inside reflected back at them.
The pool is long and narrow, but deep.
He is aware of the daughter perched
in the garden above him. He kicks
off his flip flops and sits at the pool’s
edge, easing his legs down. The water
is warm, the pool lights, if it has them,
are off, but cool ambient light
from the basement leaks up through
to the water’s surface, dancing where
his legs leave ripples. He eases himself
down, submerged to his waist, then his neck.
He lets go of the side and sinks.
The story behind the story (as told by Michael Stoneberg)
I did not immediately have a building in mind, but I was interested in sustainable (or green) architecture, and so I searched around for examples. I was pretty taken with the terraced shape of the Meera House from Guz Architects, the sloping grassy roof and pool with subsurface basement windows looking into it. I was also pretty taken with the $20 million price tag, and the way these green projects are often unattainable without fatcat pockets. It’s also on this resort island in Singapore called Sentosa, and the more I read about the island, the more I felt inspired to write about it. So I wanted the story form to reflect the shape of the house, the shape of the actions, in the layout of text on the page (something poets dabble in often, and, hey, why not fiction?), and to have the tension between sustainability and cost at its core.
About the author
Michael Stoneberg is a drifter and writer of fictions, originally from Oregon, currently at Miami University in Oxford, OH working toward his Master’s in Creative Writing. His fiction has been published in a chapbook from Plumberries Press.