Authors : Zabie Mustafa & Neda Kakhsaz

University : Pratt Institute

Status : BArch, 2015

Competition : 2015 International Fairy Tales & Architecture Competition

Title : Allegories of Home

Allegories of Home

I had once entered a dream as a young boy, a dream to escape my world, a dream entered into the unconscious. Tempted by fate and the lust of curiosity. I know very little of the world I had entered. A world much severely distinct from the one you and I are familiar with.

The dream smelled of dark cedar and damp dew grass, it was struck with an uncharacteristic beauty and a fascinating aura of frightening mystique. Constrictively constructed by stone stalactites, the world I encountered was made up of these mineral formed coarse pillars that appeared as if they were once the horns of an animal, now buried in soil. Its grounds, un-peripheral and its sky, indistinguishable, my new world seemed to be bound-less. Light festered through severed openings from countless directions, as if a body were punctured on the outside to introduce light to its interiors.


Let me start from the beginning, how I believe I arrived to that world.

It began on a fall day; I was flying my kite in the familiar sky on the horizontal farm, while my father tended the herd of sheep. The farm was vast, full of countless vegetation, two wooden barns and a single house, like objects placed on a table. The air felt particularly rapid from what I remember, the blue and white kite flew so gracefully. Until the wind cut the line that connected me to its flight, launching it into the deep fortresses of forests, it slowly sunk onto the roof leaves. I rushed towards its direction and discovered the kite, hostage to the clutches of a high branch. I grabbed onto the body of its trunk and made my way towards it. I reached and with great strain I managed to grab a bit of it. I quickly held onto the kite and as I had it in hand the branch cracked, like a bolt of lightening, breaking off from its body, sending me tumbling down.

As I fell, I realized that at the base of the tree was a cold creek that I had entered. Fully lodged into the water, I sank downward into the pool. Its depth became unfathomably heavy and dark. I suddenly felt my body twist uncontrollably and turned to find that my kite had transformed into a magnificent jellyfish. In fear, I let go and let it wander away into the darkness. Realizing I was running short on breath, I pulled my body towards the surface. As I rose above the water, the forest I was once in had vanished and a new strange world had seemed to take its place.


I entered, pinched between weightless stone buttresses that forged various naves hovering above my head and gravity slowly lost its ever-lasting rule. As if the world had been stretched in its verticals, as though the ground pulled down the roots and fibers of its plants. I felt I had dug into a deep burrow, as if I had entered as an unsought guest. But I felt as though I belonged there. Was it a dream that I had fallen into?


The weightless pillars stood alone, sharing no common ground, individually carved as stone reliefs of architectural vignettes. It was a body and an organ, dealing with specific vital functions. Each stalactite perspired fluid that formed the body of water below, and each was formed by the inevitable deposition of memories. What became most apparent were the sounds present at the time. It sounded like I was inside a whale’s body, with the echoes of the multiple drips, the formation of a musical instrument in moisture, it all blended together.

My heart measures horizontals and verticals. My heart acknowledges the flat plane of the farms and the verticality of the stalactites. But my dreams are different from my realities, familiarities in unfamiliar settings. They become my:





Intimate Desire




My home is my heart, the tomb of my abyss. Where my consciousness lies and my demons wait. Presented as an ordinary door, subdued with impressions of temptation, security and uncertainty. The sudden haze are projections of my understanding of the elements of space, a room, wall, sky, ground, etc, metamorphosed into form, lines and surfaces understood by sensation, dwelling in dreams.

Memory is reborn in meaningless ciphers. Atop and through the stalactites I went, meandering through bridges made of parts from abandoned houses I once explored, faint recollections and impressions constructed this new world. All forgotten images, dark secrets, and fears now gathered and assembled. Contradictions and mysteries sliced into enigmatic cameos. They rose like extracted teeth. Layers of my unconscious buried and entombed in me, now built spaces.  As my memories expanded, the stalactites slowly molded into their built form.  Hung from the ceiling of my heart, built by the precipitation of memories, constructed slowly over time. The world is my age.


Sediments and soils mixed to form and mold the places most familiar to me, yet they were distorted and disillusioned, perspectives that coincided. Rooms built themselves. Self constructed idioms, memory banks unveiled. Every few rooms running water poured out of punctured openings and exposed plumbing pipes. Like a disturbing surfaced buoy, they appeared. The paths created were a coordinated map to the plot and acts of my dreams and realities. Every corner once inhabited was now haunted by shadows of my past. The walls reminisced. My home becomes the shelter of my dreams.


From the cornices I stood, gazing out onto the built world. The cellar of my house, the attic of the barn, windows in the kitchen, my tire swing, a peek into the horse stable, the set of drawers in my parents room, headers and jambs of places I once inhabited came to life. Some doors and gates kept away, locked.

Meandering, I suddenly stumbled upon a red barn door with cast iron handle. I reached and opened the door to find my bedroom. It looked the same, smelled the same and felt the same yet was interrupted by peculiar changes. One wall had an aqueduct where grains of sediments poured in, curing parts of the room. The room was scaled to about twice the size of what was normal to me. I ran my fingers along the walls and ground. Then came my bed, the sheets left disheveled similar to how I remember I had left them. I found myself falling into the common ritual of preparing myself for sleep, and without a doubt or second thought made myself comfortable in the bed of the mysterious yet familiar room. I later came to know that that very moment marked the end of my journey into the strange world.


The world is my age.

My home is my innocence, my security, my belonging, a return to my earliest thoughts I had gone.


S//A : What's the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Zabie Mustafa + Neda Kakhsaz_ The most important aspect for us was the amount of freedom built into the project. We wanted to dream big and explore dreams themselves. How dreams mold and shape us, exactly how architecture molds and shape every human. We both believe that this was a very important aspect that could be brought to life with a simple story of a boy that delves deep into his subconscious which holds deep architectural memories, this was ultimately manifested through our writing and drawings.

S//A : Whats other fields outside of architecture interest you?
ZM + NK_ Both of us have a great passion for paintings, poetry and film. All mediums of artistry that deal with measurement of time and movement.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
ZM + NK_ To never give up or give in, be passionate. To preserver no matter what and to be rigorous in your line of work.

S//A : Describe your dream project
ZM + NK_ We don't have dream projects, we like to think that we meet very interesting people, which we shape dream projects together. But if I would have to choose some dream project it would be to renovate an old farm house or barn and design a studio with a beautiful little courtyard for both of us to work & dream even more.