Sunday, April 30, 2006

Construct of a dream.

What do you regularly dream about?

My most intriguing and absorbing dreams are about houses and buildings!

I have had dreams where I can still remember tiny details about the configuration, space and style of the buildings in my dreams.

I have only ever had ONE dream, once, that I wish I could repeat over and over again. It was the most wonderful experience of the subconcious I've ever had the pleasure of dreaming.

The place was central Melbourne. The building was typical on the outside of much of the victorian styled architechture of Melbourne. It was large, grey and imposing. The ornate cornices gave the building a slightly gothic quality that was at once eerie and yet very beautiful.

Part cathedral, part hotel, part house, this building lay abandoned and empty on a large allotment in the heart of Melbourne's busy streets.

My brother-in-law and sister were looking to buy a home for themselves closer to family. They were intrigued by this amazing but rather forlorn looking place and needed to get a peek inside of it to see if it would suit their needs.

At the back of this building was a tangled, overgrown fairy garden laid out in many levels, like terraces. The bones of the garden were still visible when you stood nearer the top and looked down the swirling mess of steps and levels that led, like a maze, out toward the street below.

It was green. A verdant and crystal emerald colour of amazing vibrancy and energy. Dots of lurid colour would peep out from among overgrown vines and creepers giving the garden a mysterious but quaint feel to it.

We climbed to the highest terrace of the garden which led to the giant stone foundations at the back of this enormous house.

For some unexplained reason, I knew where to find the hidden servants door behind the bracken and we entered inside into a darkened cavern that became a short passageway leading upwards into the heart of the building. I did not need a key.

The passage way was gloomy and dusty, but unlike a Hollywood set, there were no rats or cobwebs! It smelled like the underground vaults of a winery, musty and sweet like turned earth. The passageway led to a small flight of spiral stairs that took us up toward a back room which was lit in a pale soft light from the cracks around its main door.

I unfortunately, don't remember the particular details of this room because the splendour of the room behind this door completely overwhelmed the memory of it.

I opened this door and we entered a vast - and I mean vast - open space such as you would find in a very large hall or empty narthex of a large cathedral. The walls were made of grey granite blocks that stretched high above our heads either side of us and touched the sweeping vaulted ceiling, made from large oak beams, gently supporting it, not in a clumsy or contrived way, but gracefully and sweetly as if the ceiling were being caressed and nurtured to fit its place rather than perfunctorily supported.

The room was nearly empty except for a large table near our entry point and some high backed chairs arranged at different places down the east side of the building. All the furniture was covered in dusty sheets, once white, now yellow with age.

Each vaulted archway along the east side contained either a door to another room or a storage cupboard. Two main doors were centrally located drectly East. We did not however enter these (I'd have liked to though). These archways themselves, were a triumph of beauty in architechture. They had high points directly centre of their perfectly symmetrical curvature. They add to the room a kind of warmth that belied its cavernous lonliness.

There were large tapestries in dark red colours on the walls but not a lot! Just enough to give the room a kind of ethereal beauty and to break up the expanse of grey stone. The floor of the room was also made of large granite flagstones. It was covered in rich but faded rugs rampant with intricate patterns and designs.

The most breathtaking feature of this room was an enormously tall, rectangular window that started about 3 meters from the floor and then reached very high up at an oblique angle, toward us, into the highest point of the vaulted ceiling.

Someone in their idiocy had once placed a long roman blind on this window which faced due north. The blind was now a tatted, yellowing, dirty wreck of a thing. Light entered the room by the edges of the window where the blind did not meet. The swirling particles of the dust, recently disturbed, gave the room a kind of eerie glow. I remember thinking that getting a blind up there some 10 metres up from our position on the floor was a major risk! They would've needed some kind of crane to reach all the way up there! Surely?

I remember trying to find someway of removing the blind. I eventually found the thin, darkened, dirty cord for it tied to a small nail embedded near the base of the furtherest part of the west wall. The cord was also hooked to a position further up at the base where the window began. Because the window was at such an angle, it required some careful engineering to ensure that the blind followed that angle and was anchored appropriately at certain points to prevent it from sagging or flopping down straight from its highest fixed point at the top of the window.

When I released it, the blind spun, with a reverberating clatter, straight up the window to it's source. With a further short, sharp tug on the cord, it came falling down from its lofty place with an almighty crash, relieving that amazing window once and for all of its grimy blockout.

The window was made of hundreds of small panes of glass. They were dirty and almost opaque but the light from of all these panes of glass illuminated the large hall with breath-taking golden glory.

The room, despite its large size was simply the most beautiful room I'd ever ventured into. It was simple and yet remarkably complex because of the strange juxtaposition of that oblique window on the northern end. Dusty, empty, life-less and yet brimming with promise and potential, which it seemed only I could envisage.

My brother-in-law and my sister had long since disappeared from this dream as I surveyed the main hall. This building had become "MY" building! It was as if I had stumbled onto a glorious architechtural treasure that had lain in plain sight, but invisible, from Melbournes gaze.

I remember the wonderful colours in that hall. The deep reds, the dark purples, the soft sandy gleam of the dust, the granite grey of the stone, the dirty yellow of that blind, the golden beautiful light! Then there was verdant green of the garden with hints and wisps of vermillion and lapis blue. But it is the scintillating, golden light from that remarkable window that moves me most of all. I felt so amazed and in awe in that room. I was completely and totally lost in the mesmerising portent of it's form.

I remember feeling passionately that this window should be cleaned (I also remember thinking through just "how" to clean it too) - so that the sun would be able to penetrate the room better and so that the stars would be seen at night. I wanted, almost desperately, to have this building come alive! To help it live out its purpose and potential and to give it back its eye - that wonderful window - to look clearly at the sky once again.

That building - though a dream - stays with me. A simple construct of something that will never come to pass and yet still haunts me with a happy memory of a place where I found light, immense wonder and a window I would give anything to own!

I dream about buildings!

What do you dream about? :)

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