Ian Martin eyes superfast broadband, tax breaks and an absence of any real planning restrictions
Monday. Working on my conceptual design for a Museum of Psychogeography in central London. It will initially be a temporary ‘psych-up’ building, constructed from memory on a cleared building site.
After a fortnight it will be destroyed and become another layer of vanished architectural mulch from which modern reality grows. It is in this distilled state that it will find true cultural legacy, as it will be remembered as being better than it was.
Tuesday. Meeting of the Tamworth League. We’re making steady progress in our bid to reinstate Mercia as a modern, fit-for-purpose Anglo-Saxon Kingdom.
As an interim measure on the path to federal independence, we’ve applied for New Mercia to become one of the government’s new Enterprise Zones. If representatives of any other resurgent ancient kingdoms are interested, by the way, the application process is simplicity itself. A form can be picked up from your local post office – the trickiest part of the whole process – and then you just fill in the little boxes.
Summary: how would you maximise the potential of superfast broadband, tax breaks and an absence of any real planning restrictions? We’ve put ‘develop internet trading opportunities for local businesses registered in Jersey, provide centres of architectural excellence for sex trade money-laundering, create a sustainable 21st century environment for entrepreneurs with private dental work and ruthless tailoring’. We’ve also hinted at maintaining an oppressive ‘police state vibe’ in an effort to encourage the world’s greatest architects to design here.
Wednesday. To the RIPBA, where an emergency session of the Future Subjunctive Taskforce has been hastily convened.
We’re here [2nd floor, Poulson Suite] to discuss the annual shock report into prospects for the profession, as is usual at this time of year. On the face of it everything looks perfectly normal. For the 28th year running we live in a fast-changing world, boom boody boom, architects still need sharper commercial skills and shrewder business plans, boom boody boom boom, everything remains in crisis, boom boody boom, please hold, your subscription is important to us.
The topline this year though is worrying: a 40 per cent drop in people giving a toss about architects, as measured on the statistically reliable Toss Index. This unprecedented and precipitous ‘toss plunge’ is worrying strategists at the RIPBA, for good reason. If people, clients in particular, convert their passive toss-witholding into active not-commissioning then architects will just have to find something else to do. There will be grave consequences not only for the built environment but also for subscription income.
There is a Plan B of course: make the RIPBA a completely theoretical construct and sell the headquarters in Portland Place to a boutique hotel developer. There’s plenty of interest. One Saudi Arabian leisure conglomerate is offering a fortune and could have the proposed Menthol Consulate Hotel ready to welcome its first haughty guests inside six months, as the redesign need not involve an architect.
There must be a better rescue plan for one of Britain’s oldest and most respected professional interest groups. I volunteer to think further about it at the usual day rate. Done. We repair to that nice little pub round the corner where everyone’s dressed like Mumford and Sons and talking 10 per cent too loudly about epic space. It’s a sobering thought that their insights are now heeded by 40 per cent fewer fellow boozers, so we have another round.
Thursday. Wait. Here’s a second report that says it’s a waste of time designing a self-righteously green exterior for a building when it’s actually full of idiots cranking up the carbon silhouette by leaving equipment on standby and microwaving their Pot Noodles.
As I’ve been explaining to architects for years, it’s not the hardware that needs a contemporary re-design, it’s the software. Suppose the RIPBA promoted the problem-solving talents of its members to property owners keen to save money with more energy-efficient occupants?
Friday. Back to the Future Subjunctive Taskforce. They love the idea: the RIPBA as a professional body for human software architects. There’ll be the usual liberal bleating about the morality of ‘value-engineering’ occupants but we’ll stress that only chartered architects should be commissioned, making it ethical.
Saturday. Devise a carbon grading system for people eg ‘Old Vegan’, ‘New Viking’ etc.
Sunday. Deliver self to integrated leisure and entertainment hub as part of an ongoing re-reclination initiative.