Seeking strong voice for profession, rich baritone preferred
Ian Martin hears that the Prince of Wales is challenging Dr David Starkey to a rap battle
MONDAY. Appalled that some of my landmark architecture is being swept away in this ridiculous post-riot fervour for ‘starting again’.
I blame the sinister cartel of insurers, property owners and politicians e.g. my friend Loaf, the Mayor of London. They’ve made a huge fuss about making funds available for repairing Glottal Britain but it’s just an excuse to scrape off unfashionable millennium stylings – aspirational glass, outsize metal fittings, big fonts etc.
Public building makeovers are the easiest to remove. The brief, as we all remember, was simply to create a fragile meniscus of ‘contemporary design’. Easy to do at the time, easy to remove now. You can just steam it off and replace it with something more appropriate, with lots of flickering images on the sponsored surfaces.
Memo to self: next time a client wants a fragile meniscus, bung the Freemasons to make sure that it’s pre-listed.
TUESDAY. The results are in from the Platitudes Survey, conducted annually by the Royal Institute for the Protection of British Architects.
According to the executive summary, we need to dial down the playing field if we are to avoid sleepwalking into suicidal bids below the cost of delivery. Flexibility and accessibility are key givens.
There is no magic bullet. We need a strong voice for the profession to deliver the message that delivery won’t simply deliver itself, even if it is intensified. Awareness should be raised, along with performance. The brand offer should communicate values, and vision.
The core takeaway here is design quality, which must be delivered to the heart of the procurement process. Summary: ethos.
WEDNESDAY. Working pub brunch with Rock Steady Eddie the fixer. The first pint and bowl of curly chips is taken up with gossip: Zaha’s new maglev frock, the Prince of Wales challenging Dr David Starkey to a rap battle on the subject of ‘monarchitecture’, whether Will Alsop’s had a chest weave…
Then Eddie points at me with a curly chip, which due to an intrinsic architectural paradox is actually pointing at him. Would I be up for a bit of ‘urbanistic metaplanning’?
My spirits rise. Urbanistic metaplanning is just about my favourite way of earning money. You can charge for ‘around the box’ thinking and eclectic connectivity and bespoke adverbs and… ‘Yeah, yeah, defo. It’s a banging gig, no doubt. The client’s well keen to promote a unique blahbiddy blah whatever. Here…’ He slides across an ‘inward investment prospectus’ for something called New Tripoli.
My spirits fall. It’s just a Google Earth image of old Tripoli, with scribbling all over it. ‘Clusters of traditional housing here’…‘death to the neo-liberal forces of regeneration’… wait, what? Who is this client, exactly?
Eddie makes a small coughing noise, covering his mouth. What? ‘Gaddafi!’ he hisses, quietly. I wait for the punchline. ‘No no no, before you go off on one, look. He’s not a, you know, “Gaddafi” Gaddafi. They’re like the Kennedys, yeah? Loads of them, some good, some bad. This one’s totally kosher, distant second cousin. Oil game. Lives round Notting Hill way. Due to certain developments that you may have seen on the news, he’s now sort of a Colonel-in-Waiting-in-Exile. Only saying, democracy’s all about boom and bust yeah, you finishing those chips?’
THURSDAY. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, and with it a growing sense of dread. How many furlongs of gush on the subject of Architecture’s Tragic Legacy are waiting to occur in the more contemplative sections of our weekend magazines?
The countdown has started already. I arrive at the pub to find a tableau vivant. Darcy Farquear’say, epic space correspondent for the Creative on Sunday, and his trembling dachshund Bauhau are both in black Issey Miyake wraps gazing respectfully into the distance. Neither of them offers me a drink.
I ask Darcy what the theme of his Twin Towers requiem piece will be. ‘Too soon, too soon,’ he murmurs. I assume this means that he hasn’t thought of anything yet. Darcy: pretentious and vacant, like a speculative boutique skyscraper.
FRIDAY. Design a speculative boutique skyscraper. I’m actually calling it a ‘vertical city’, the way you do these days. Even though it is without secondhand bookshops, cabs, places to smoke, bikes, bumbling tourists, Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals or children.
SATURDAY. Re-invent the whole concept of terraced housing by calling the street a ‘horizontal living tower’.
SUNDAY. Horizontalise self in the recliner.