Building on our opportunistic past
Ian Martin masterplans a network of organic villages
MONDAY Finish sketches for my latest reconciliation of dynamism and ‘found landscape’.
It’s an organic village. Set in hundreds of acres of outstanding Hampshire beauty and recently liberated by the Coalition’s common sense freedom fighters. Yes, freedom at last from the shackles of Stalinist town and country planners, with their suffocating spools of anti-strivist red tape.
It’s bloody great, too, being able to write your own environmental impact assessment. Executive Summary: NO PROBLEM. The proposed village, Little Gatsby, is an extended loose-fit cluster of double-specced ‘resipads’ in the Grand Designs tradition of bourgeois futurism. Each is uniquely framed in locally-sourced glass and steel. Each includes a signature open atrium tiled in a turf-and-sod mosaic. Each has its own thrillingly sinister roof of passive-aggressive sliding Teutonic plates.
I have taken that bourgeois futurism, piped in enough green electricity and wi-fi for a medium size business park, added balsamic ‘dressing’ et voilà: connectivised nouveau ruralism. My clients are upmarket developers Flatwhite & Keenwagh, whose mission is ‘to deliver quality homes set in exclusive countryside locations for people who deserve the best’. Our masterplan deploys what I’m calling Luxury Settler Theory. Build an outpost of gated entitlement, sell the units off plan, build the next outpost with the deposits and so on. In 10 years, there will be a necklace of outposts with an invitingly large void in the middle.
Once all the satellite organic villages have been established - Little Gatsby, Lower Gatsby, South Gatsby, Gatsby Dene, West Gatsby, Gatsby Meadows, New Gatsby, Gatsby Hollow and Gatsby Platinum - it would be absolutely unthinkable NOT to develop a rural new town at the vacant centre. Linking them all, like a benevolent spider’s web.
The name of the central settlement is still to be decided. Something swanky and opulent though, obviously.
TUESDAY Drinks with my old friend Dusty Penhaligon the conservactionist. It’s a chance to catch up, and also to rehearse my lines for what I hope will be a rubberstamping public inquiry into Little Gatsby.
Dusty’s a jihadist on the subject of building anything ‘new’ at all, anywhere. He’s currently appearing as an expert witness for campaigners trying to sink what seems to me an utterly blameless gigantic enclosed international leisure destination, golf experience and retail nebulus (‘Mega Scotia’) in the Cairngorms. ‘Very, very reactionary climate at the moment,’ he drawls, quaffing real ale from a tankard with his name on it. ‘And that suits us down to the ground. We’re not blocking the proposals per se. In fact, we’re arguing the site SHOULD be developed. But that all development should conform strictly to indigenous heritage guidelines and original use patterns. So we’ve drawn up plans for a scattering of sheep farmers’ crofts. Not the modern pretend ones, with plumbing. Proper ancient smoke-clogged ones that give you TB…’
So if someone could prove a certain area of Hampshire, say, used to be a largeish settlement with satellite villages… Dusty nods approvingly and takes a swig of Monk’s Cock or Nun’s Tits or whatever sad, bitter, signature brew it is he’s drinking.
WEDNESDAY Strategy meeting with Flatwhite & Keenwagh. I mention Dusty’s ‘aboriginal precedent’ argument, and suggest hiring the sort of archaeologist who might find traces of a neolithic settlement underneath the proposed Gatsbys.
THURSDAY They’ve duly appointed retired academic Sir Grenville Pumps, author of Ye Fulle Olde Englishe Break-Fast, or Whatte Ye Wille.
It’s apparently a forgotten classic, this groaning four-volume treatise on how traces of Englishness can be found everywhere, even in neolithic settlements, and how traces of neolithic settlements can be found everywhere.
Unusually, Sir Grenville is on a zero-hours contract with a mysterious guaranteed lump sum performance bonus.
FRIDAY That WAS quick. Pumps has found astonishing evidence of a thriving Stone Age community underneath our notional contemporary organic villages.
Excellent. Now we have a unique opportunity to correct the mistakes of history. Informal Stone Age live-work spaces most certainly did NOT have to comply with building regs.
SATURDAY Add little touches of specialness to the drawings. Compassionate weather. Classic car. Obedient dog. God, it could be a birthday card.
SUNDAY Cross-platform media research in the recliner. Little Gatsby’s EVERYWHERE. ‘This is not simply the rr-ruff restoration of an ancient community…’ writes Bauhau the architectural dachshund in the Creative on Sunday. ‘It is a moral woof woof improvement’. Give that dog a bone.