Less Foundation is More Foundation
Ian Martin plans to restore the legendary Epic Space Foundation
MONDAY I’ve been commissioned by a spiritual architect to redesign the mental landscape of Tony Blair.
It needs a total reset. Decide to tackle the overgrown, gloomy ‘Mentalpotamia’ of guilt and regret by ordering a full memory airstrike. It’s not an easy decision, mind-bombing, but look, doing the right thing rarely is.
After the rubble has been cleared, a multivalent plasma barrier will be activated around the conscience, accessed by the owner via a reconstructed Euston Arch guarded by armed clowns, in order to make everything seem ‘less real’.
TUESDAY Create London housing that’s instantly 50 per cent more affordable by doubling the number of inhabitants.
WEDNESDAY Very excited. My plan to restore the legendary Epic Space Foundation has finally won approval from the provisional wing of the liberal metropolitan elite. Alain de Botton and his mates held an extraordinary general meeting last night at Gymkhana and I’ve got the go-ahead as long as I change ‘restore’ to ‘reboot’.
Oh, the Epic Space Foundation. This marvellous and erudite charitable institution, which did so much to keep alive the Festival of Britain in the fortnight after it closed, once dominated the world of architecture like a conversational Skylon of Excellence.
Indeed, many architectural conversationalists cite the absence of the foundation’s guiding spirit as a key factor in the general shitness of buildings since April 1963. That’s when ESF chairman John Betjeman left its Charlotte Street headquarters to have lunch with Philip Larkin and never came back. The world of the built environment has effectively been in hibernation ever since.
I wanted to relaunch the foundation with fireworks, champagne, the lot. Plan A was to persuade the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects to move out of its grand home in Portland Place into something more befitting an admin centre for the processing of subscriptions – business park premises in Droitwich, say – so that the Epic Space Foundation could once again take up its rightful place at the heart of three-dimensionalised British auteurism.
Fat chance. The idea was firmly rejected by the very establishment squares and deadheads who have turned contemporary architecture into nothing more than a styling salon for developers. Curse them. Curse them all.
So I decided the relaunched foundation should ‘do less, but better’. Plan B was a posh tent in Haggerston made from some kind of clever fabric. Just one permanent member of staff but with a huge reach, thanks to television’s insatiable appetite for petrified money. Alas, the TV people could not have been less interested if I’d proposed reviving the Monochromatic Architectural Minstrel Show, that infamous Sunday night programme from half a century ago featuring Sir Kenneth Clark waffling on about big churches and country houses in blackface. Plan C was to ‘do much less but incredibly better’ by setting up a virtual foundation on the internet with podcasts, live-streaming and uploaded images from Britain’s artisans of the transcendental, but bandwidth requirements were too hefty.
Now, the perfect solution. I am officially relaunching the Epic Space Foundation IN THEORY ONLY. Our mission statement: ‘do nothing, be superb’. Here’s to the next half‑century!
THURSDAY Off-grid, doing important work for the Epic Space Foundation.
FRIDAY Secret meeting for my latest clandestine project, an association of enthusiasts dedicated to ‘rebalancing’ the London skyline by destroying all buildings taller than the Gherkin.
We’re reporting to Amy Blackwater, the ecomentalist. She’s organising things from prison on behalf of a shadowy billionaire nihilist known only as the Angel of Death. Tonight, we discuss strategies for the Shard. Step One is to evacuate the building obviously, we’re not heartless bastards.
Step Two’s a bit of a toss-up. A few of us favour chopping it off at ground level, then using some sort of powerful supercopter to airlift it to the North Sea. Others want incremental contolled detonations from the top down, so it collapses in on itself like a jagged souffle. Personally I’d like to see this disgusting stalagmite of congealed capital launched into the air by powerful explosives, then land upside down on the O2 during An Evening With Derek Acorah And Sting.
Whatever. One way or another, the Shard will be a breath of fresh air soon.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. The match between Defensive Architecture and Social Hierarchy was abandoned after a late tackle with anti-homeless floor studs.
SUNDAY Epic space suspension.