Theoretical barchitecture has its day
Ian Martin devises some inflatable rhetoric for the mayor of London
MONDAY. Great excitement in the world of epic space. It’s Battle of the Styles Week, which happens every five years like a General Election but people get to elect an architectural theory instead of a political conspiracy.
This time it’s personal. There are only two contenders. The ridiculous, nebulous theory of ‘metarchitecture’ is championed by dandy meta-dachshund Bauhau and his insufferable companion, the theatrical agent Victoria Spong. I’m backing ‘Looks Nice Theory’, devised with my friend Darcy the architecture critic and his muse, the border collie Bess of Hardwick.
It’s an architecturally theoretical dog-eat-dog world.
And Bess will have Bauhau as a light sausage breakfast.
TUESDAY. In the morning, freestyle a design for an inflatable bridge over the Seine for the mayor of Paris. In the afternoon, devise some inflatable rhetoric for the mayor of London.
WEDNESDAY. Submit my independent report for the government’s Home Solutions Discount Unit on how to create hundreds of thousands of affordable new flats and houses. I’ve kept it simple, in accordance with my modest fee. There are five key recommendations as usual:House Printers Charter. This would allow investors to buy really good synthetic house printers, then let them out for a steady lifetime income.
Red Tape Cull. A number of consortia will be allowed to kill - humanely and in accordance with the Human Rights Act - any local authority identified as a ‘carrier’ of red tape.
Cheers For Heroes. A housing boom is being persistently talked down at the poorer, more chaotic end of journalism. This has to stop. All media entities must now take a much more upbeat line and/or stand accused of hypocrisy. Please use hashtag #smilesbuildhomes.
Wheels Within Wheels. For too long, wheelchair users were ignored, especially during that Labour government before the last one. Now is the time to make wheelchair users even more visible by creating Wheels Within Wheels - hubs of excellence at the heart of areas of commercial opportunity liberated from the constraints of sentimentality/wheelchair access requirements.
Lightbulb Momentum. If Britain is to prosper, it will be as a creative powerhouse. We need to pool our ideas. That’s why the government is inviting ideas - any ideas at all, from anyone at all - about how profitable housing might be built without the private sector having to bear a disproportionate burden. We look forward to lots of ideas! Yours sincerely, The Government.
THURSDAY. Day off for tax purposes.
FRIDAY. Here we go then. Battle of the Styles on Newsnight. A lot at stake here, and Darcy and Bess have cleverly turned it into a canine-focused class war. First there’s a filmed piece by a sixth-former in a moustache walking through Cumbernauld, explaining with archive film and classic pop music how architectural theory has been shit for decades. Back in the studio, against a collage of contemporary buildings taken from interesting angles,
Emily Maitlis separates the combatants.
On her left Bauhau and Spong, in what look like matching camouflage pyjamas, are already barking away. ‘Metarchitecture means looking at the whole sandwich, not just the filling!’ ‘Arch arch arch! Rough rough rough!’ The new, very northern, Darcy remains impassive in his modest tweed suit, refusing to make eye contact with Bauhau. When it’s their go he casually consults Bess, who’s looking no-nonsense in Cumbrian fleece and spectacles, nodding sagely at her low, clever growls. ‘Aye, Bess reckons this fancy theory, this so-called metarchitecture, is just a middle-class conspiracy. You could get everyone who actually understands bloody metarchitecture sat comfortably in a small community-owned pub garden with a complimentary bottle of wine between ‘em. She says it’s time architects starting doing buildings that JUST LOOK NICE…’
Spong tries to interrupt but Darcy’s unconquerable.
‘We like old buildings cos they’re the best thing about t’past. We like new ‘uns too cos they’re best thing about t’future. They just want to LOOK NICE.’ He whistles.
Bess does a crouching growl at Bauhau, who evacuates his bowels. Emily moves on to the crisis in Greece.
SATURDAY. Result’s still too close to call. Even Twitter is torn between ‘thickos’ and ‘poshos’.
SUNDAY. Oh NO. The Creative on Sunday has ruled that the prevailing architectural theory for the next five years will be Redactivism, devised by social commentator Emma Shoe - and Pussy Riot, her fucking CAT!