Re-realming can be overwhelming
Ian Martin creates a prototype idealised model of collectivised open-plan space
MONDAY Design a global conspiracy, giving it a heavily-engineered feel and a mirrored finish.
TUESDAY Experience the intoxicating power of symmetry by drinking either side of lunch.
WEDNESDAY Gender-specific toys are infra dig for today’s parenting dudes, of whatever biological combination. That’s why I am remodelling the doll’s house, combining new ways of thinking (delusion) with old ways of thinking (nostalgia).
My prototype is an idealised model of collectivised open-plan space. With the help of my old friend Dusty Penhaligon the conservactionist I have recreated a community technical aid centre from 1970s Liverpool.
The precision-tooled balsa wood construction has been skilfully clad as a redundant Wesleyan chapel. Inside it’s squat chic - all distressed G-Plan furniture and draped fabrics sourced from skips.
In the communal kitchen, almost inaudibly, Bob Marley plays on a tiny, tinny hi-fi. The dolls are asexual, metrospectacled, identically dressed in blue denim work suits. Theoretically any of them could be women. Everyone had long hair then. That’s the power of play for you there, the power of a child’s imagination.
Other prototypes I am working up:
- Little Anglican church with detachable roof. Differents sets of minister-and-congregation dolls include ‘Old Testament Tory’, ‘Inclusive But Conflicted’ and ‘Poseable-Figure Evangelical’.
- Little food bank, full of hungry and deserving ‘poor dolls’. Or ‘scrounger dolls’, depending on the child’s political world view.
- Little last council house still occupied by a local authority tenant, with a little corpse doll inside and a little cat doll at the window.
THURSDAY Boom. Just won a competition to redesign the public realm around Vauxhall.
What makes my victory even sweeter is that I beat a number of my long-standing rivals in the realm of re-realming, notably vulgar London duburban steppers Boner + Fido, and French hauteurists Casaubon et Casaubon Encore.
I’m braced for the usual bitterness. People saying that redesigning a public realm is a piece of piss. That you can be as vague as you like because it’s never going to happen. That the whole exercise has been launched simply so that those in charge can demonstrate that they’re doing something even if they’re not.
Bollocks to them. Detractorz gonna detract.
Anyway, I have no idea who the judges for this re-realming design competition were, or indeed who the client is. But what won them over was my preparedness to go that extra mile in constructing a ‘quirky world of possibilities’. Startling images can liberate a public realm. For example:
Larry David jogging. Time-transported Victorian couple on penny farthings. Forensic murder-scene chalk body outlines sprung creepily to life, pointing at floating trees, their roots spreading out like veins, sucking in nutrients directly from the air. The cast of an amdram production of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers sitting in a giant leaf listening to a lecture given by a horse with a bubble for a head.
Nobody is suggesting that any of the above will actually occur. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. One hopes in the end that one’s benign majesty will have a cascading effect. That it will empower the citizens of a rethought public realm, and strengthen that realm’s bicycling monarchy.
FRIDAY I yield to no-one in my admiration for Guy Fawkes Gardens, the Modernist municipal masterpiece designed by Andrew and Petula Bodle. It is rightly admired throughout the world as an exemplar of what we as a society did for one another in the 20th century.
But let’s face it, the place has seen better days. It would require a shitload of money to restore it to ‘societal beacon’ status. Plus it’s not even listed. Not a beacon, not an icon.
It is, however, with heavy heart that I now accept the gig to masterplan 239 new homes on the flattened site once Guy Fawkes Gardens has been humanely pulverised.
Of course, deleting it from the landscape does not mean it will be erased from our hearts. We will still be able to see pictures of it, and remember the feelings it once inspired.
I hope this makes clear my deep affection for Guy Fawkes Gardens and that now my critics will shut the fuck up and allow me to do my job.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Tessellated Public Opinion 3, Think Tank With Lightshow 6.
SUNDAY Light doze in the recliner, with my conscience in a glass of water on the table.