How a giant nickel-plated python has made us all think harder
Is Dubai in Europe? Only he'd like aspects of the hotel to look Tibetan, as a tribute to the Dalai Lama. I tell him that Dubai's in the Middle East, where Buddhism is huge at the moment. Does 'hotel complex' mean it has to look...complicated? No, it just means it should physically express an internal drama through stagecraft, posture and occasional squinting. What does 'socially conscious' mean? Oh, you know, the sort of place you and your friends might go to observe each other.
He needs no coaching on the merits of environmentally-friendly architecture'. His hotel will have reams of it, draped like glittering jewels of global luxury awareness all over the working drawings, which will be emailed to him shortly.
TUESDAY. To a conference in nanospace. How can we reduce carbon's molecular footprint by applying contemporary design principles? Summary: 'parthenocarbon'. Smaller, high-density nuclear units with limited circulation space and a smart finish. The oxygenated 'father atom' is off somewhere getting pissed with his mates.
WEDNESDAY. I hook up with my old friend Jean-Eric Nonmerci. He's en route to collect his Spritzer Prize, so he's especially brooding and opaque. His massive shaved head has been French-polished into a gleaming basilica of dreams.
As usual, lunch is intense and protracted. Partly because Jean-Eric has so many things to think aloud about. Partly because he insists on every item of food being unique and non-banal. I am allowed to have steak and chips, but only after he has sent scribbled instructions to the chef to 'invert the notions'. What I get is a plate-specific anthology of crinkle-cut steaklets, mysteriously vertical raw vegetables and a single, grotesque giant chip. It all looks a bit David Lynch and very creepy. I think the vegetables are still alive.
Across the table, the Belisha Beacon of contemporary architecture flashes on and on. His latest attempt to rehumanise the world is a supercasino in Las Vegas. It will incorporate canyons, waterfalls and a working goldmine. 'Ha ha ha ha ha' he says, not smiling. 'It is artificial, but the context also is artificial, which makes it in a way real. It is a wow building. They like the wow in Vegas. I like the wow also. But where is the wow of now? It interests me to play with wow, to make a new kind of wow. Let us invert wow. We get mom. Yes, of course. But what happens when we reverse wow? We get wow. Is it the same wow? Or...'
I remember a pressing engagement and call for the bill. No pudding on earth is worth this.
THURSDAY. A very proud day for me, and for Tamworth. It's the launch of Time For Climate Change, a celebration of better weather on the way for those of us who live in non-southern Britain. I gulp back tears as the centrepiece structure I have designed for the event - a 29m-long nickel-plated python - is unveiled by Bill Oddie.
This is, if I may say, an important urban icon for several reasons:
• It is the first time a work has been commissioned by the Commission for Architecture and Real Places (CARP), whose 'proper job' is to look quizzically at new building proposals.
• A giant python is something you're usually not aware of in a city centre, which makes it powerful.
• It reminds us of the rainforest, which is like a moral barometer in the vestibule of the planet.
• Nobody sees a 29m ANYTHING these days, unless it's a queue to register with an NHS dentist.
FRIDAY. Sombre lunch with Darcy, who is mourning Yves Saint Laurent in a black beatnik poloneck. His glamorous companion Bauhau the dachshund wears an identical outfit, with miniature Ray-Ban Wayfarers. There's a growing confidence about this dog that I find unsettling.
SATURDAY. Email 'from' Bauhau, who now has his own Facebook presence. 'Please vote for me in the London Freshtival of Architecture Dog Show!' Don't worry mate, I'll be there. With some laxative chocolate.
SUNDAY. Support the UN's call for a 50 per cent rise in food production by making a third sandwich.