Here's a tip: get clients to pay you a service charge
The government naturally falls for the whoreish appeal of an epic space collective willing to do anything to survive, and consummates the relationship
MONDAY. I have been promised £300,000 if I come up with a five-stage rescue plan for architects. Let’s face it, at £60,000 per stage this is serious stuff.
TUESDAY. I accept the challenge.
1. We must act nationally and pretend that ‘the architectural profession’ is not a competitive jumble of atomised, selfish practices at all but a vital network of collaborative philanthropists. The public must suspect nothing.
2. Having defined ‘the profession’ we should invent an institute to represent it. Its sole purpose in the first week is to call upon the government to put quality design at the heart of the procurement process. In week two it acknowledges the depth of the current economic crisis and calls upon the government to pump hot cash loving into the profession until it squeaks. The government naturally falls for the whoreish appeal of an epic space collective willing to do anything to survive, and consummates the relationship.
3. The profession is old-fashioned about being pumped full of hot cash loving. Now the government’s had its way it should do the decent thing and make an honest profession of architecture, i.e. nationalise it. Relax, this won’t involve any reciprocal civic responsibilities. It just means if the banks continue to refuse to lend you money, the government will give you some anyway, so that everyone feels more confident.
4. Once the profession has stabilised it must exercise strong credit control. Clients will be scarce and you must treat them accordingly. This does NOT mean fawning over them in the hope they’ll come back in the future. Your clients have no scruples and are trying to maximise their profits. You must do the same. The profession should therefore emulate restaurants, by billing instantly and imaginatively. When a project is complete DO NOT wait a month and then submit an invoice by post. Then wait another three months before sending a reminder. Insist on payment by credit card. As soon as the job is signed off, go round to the client with one of those hand-held consoles they have in restaurants and settle the bill. Make sure there are plenty of gratuities. ‘Would you like to donate a further 0.5 per cent fee charge to offset your carbon footprint for the project? Press ENTER for Yes…’ ‘Would you like to protect against future defects by contributing £3,000 to our professional indemnity costs?’ Etc.
5. That’s £10 each you all owe me.
WEDNESDAY. Redesign a historic ‘artistic’ quarter of Edinburgh. I create cultural relevance by making it look like a virtual business sector in a PlayStation 3 shoot-em-up.
THURSDAY. I had planned to broadcast an appeal in this column for help in rebuilding Gaza. However, after long and detailed conversations with myself, I regretfully concluded that to do so would compromise the impartiality readers have come to expect.
More importantly it might upset the Israeli government who, remember, are the real victims here and are suffering unimaginably from the relentless pounding of world opinion. This column will continue to mention the scale of destruction in Gaza, but feels it is safer to leave any ‘reconstruction issues’ to the indigenous inmates themselves.
Admittedly there are fewer inhabitants than a month ago, and many of them are children, but adult unemployment is now somewhere between 50 to 100 per cent so it’s not like there’s a shortage of labour, and as everybody’s sealed in nobody’s going anywhere are they? Come on Gazans - show some self-respect and stop looking like ‘untermenschen’!
FRIDAY. Panicky call from Jumbo Shredwin, client contact for my PFI consortium work. All those high-profile New Deal schools and hospitals could be mothballed as private sector providers of public buildings are struggling to get finance.
I tell him to calm down. I’ve spoken to a mate of mine in the Treasury, and they’ll simply reclassify the NHS and education as ‘private’. That way, the schemes will be eligible for public funding. Clearly my five-stage plan is getting some traction in Westminster.
SATURDAY. Knew I shouldn’t have fretted about not publicising Gaza. The design and architecture mags are FULL of articles about the environmental crisis there. That, and musings on how ‘green’ Palladio was. And whether a giant haggis on stilts can single-handedly rescue a city centre in East Anglia from oblivion.
SUNDAY. Recliner. Prepare an article for Ecotect Quarterly: ‘Tread lightly upon the earth, some of us are trying to sleep…’