In a world of ever – increasing scientific potential, fairy tales do come true. When I say ‘fairy tales’ I mean that to include fables and folk stories, and I’m not limiting myself to the children’s variety. One of the key figures in such tales is a witch whose house stands on chicken legs. The house has the power to move itself through the woods or orient itself differently, as the situation demands. It can squat for easy access or stand imperiously aloof from intruders. The house, like the witch herself, isn’t necessarily bad in all of the stories – she simply is, a factor of the environment, like a tree or a rock. Certain rules must be followed while dealing with her, thought there are occasional allowances for rule-breaking.
As a part of a collaborative project, MIT has now created a ‘mobile home’ of this sort itself. Though this home features six legs instead of two and is shaped even more oddly that Baba Yaga’s, it remains an entity unto itself. Researchers state that a part of the intention behind the design was to inspire ‘nomadic excursions’ without detriment to the environment (the house is solar powered). But I wonder at the implications of renewed and easy movement for those of us who are generationally quite equipped to handle fast-moving change. Do we lose something with that mobility? Do we become something witchlike, other, outside the normal sphere of life? OR does the meaning of home simply change?