A pop-up bubble bursts, a death foretold in blue ironwork, and a grumpy app
Ian Martin designs a Tomb for Thatcher
MONDAY. There’s nothing like getting back to work after the holidays. Cracking open a new diary. Facing the future with sustainable levels of humane yet dynamic positivity. Creating world-class present participles we can all truly believe in.
But the diary looks a bit bleak and grim. That’s because there’s no architecture in it. The architecture seems to have run out early on 1 Jan, along with the festive booze. It’s a sobering thought indeed that the pop-up high street I devised last month for the Coalition’s Retail Rescue Unit may have been my last proper gig for a while.
Even that didn’t go down as well as I’d hoped. Apparently a touring pop-up high street is too ‘ambitious’. You know for people who constantly fantasise about a private sector recovery, government ministers really don’t have much bloody imagination do they? It was a BRILLIANT idea: a caravan of prototypes rolling from one sleepy market town to another like a touring circus, inspiring plucky little retail revivals in its wake.
A pop-up Top Shop shop. An inflatable mobile phone kiosk. A tented mini-Waitrose. A Cancer Research charity shop in a shipping container. Individual fish pedicure barrels. A flat-pack IKEA Micro. A bamboo and canvas artisan patisserie. A laminated cardboard off licence. An adobe Waterstones. An exciting new take on the traditional café, offering all-day vegan breakfasts for a tenner and the sort of casual contempt you’d expect at home, in a demountable responsibly sourced clip-together giant recycled aluminium gourd.
I’d even sourced ‘motley beggars and chuggers’ from a theatrical agency. All for nothing. Meanwhile Wally Morecambe, secretary of state for communities and bins, goes on the Today programme banging on about recovery through local autonomy.
Well good luck pulling out of recession without hair fascinators, mobile upgrades, ready meals, secondhand books, discounted booze, fish that nibble your feet and arsey, pompous entrepreneurs in Laura Ashley aprons selling cakes, that’s all I can say.
TUESDAY. Thinking day. Devise an architecture app that works like Shazam, the in-phone device that tells you what song you’re listening to in a pub.
My architectural version works on the same principle. Point it at a building and it’ll tell you the style, date, any remarkable features and who designed it.You can adjust the intensity of the ‘gaze’ and the tone of the summary, as it has five different settings: Gushing, Circumspect, Haughty, Dismissive and Excoriating. I will call it the ‘Pevsnapp’.
WEDNESDAY. Refuse to get drawn into the debate over whether Baroness Thatcher should have a state funeral. On one hand she fucked everything up for at least two generations. On the other, I’ll take no pleasure from the death of an elderly widow with Alzheimer’s.
Ooh, I feel a warm glow of self-regard flooding my body like fentanyl.
THURSDAY. Wow! There’s a competition to design a Tomb For Thatcher! I am so entering THAT!
The brief calls for ‘an elegant yet forceful design, well away from any area of high deprivation which might subsequently benefit from tourism but would still vote Labour anyway’. My mind’s alive with possibilities. Blue ironwork. Falklands stone. Caryatids in the shape of union leaders and Russians. Thatched roof – too much, too soon?
FRIDAY. My friend Amy Blackwater the extreme environmental activist calls. I’m not in the mood for a shouty lecture so I let it go straight to voicemail.
‘Yeah, so-called Happy New Year, whatever, it’s all corporate bullshit. Listen, architects are dedicated professionals right? They have a morally driven vocation, don’t they? Basically, their job is to enable inhabited spaces, yeah? Spaces that are OCCUPIED…’ I pour myself a drink, still pretending not to be in.
‘So why don’t we network? Push hard for local architects to get in touch with Occupy and other political resistance groups, create a national wave of protected, humane squats, bringing back into use dead space, using architects’ brilliant skills of design, problem-solving, legal and planning knowledge, eh?
‘Wouldn’t it be great if architects rejoined the social revolution? They could have their own political slogan: OCCUPATION IS OUR OCCUPATION. Something like that, eh? EH?’
She must be on drugs or something.
SATURDAY. Still wrestling with an iconic shape for the Thatcher tomb. Handbag? First-term bouffant? Partially-submerged Argentine cruiser? Hm. Might outsource the conceptual stage altogether.
SUNDAY. Turn my liberal equivocation into a ‘centre of gravity’ by occupying the recliner.