Merging nine cities into one? That’s what I call Big Society/New Mercia
Ian Martin tweaks his high-density yet vibrant mini-utopia
Monday. I’m entering an architectural competition called Thinking Outside The Blox. They’re looking for innovation. And they’re going to get it.
My 441.8m Northern Rock Tower will be horizontal, not vertical. It will occupy a site north of Newcastle, running parallel to Hadrian’s Wall. When complete, the whole concept will undergo a quarter-turn. Floor slabs become walls. A wall becomes a floor. Exposed foundations etc will transform the western end into an exciting artwork.
Obviously, it won’t be the tallest 100-storey skyscraper ever designed by a British genius, but it will be the longest. A smart, connected hyperbungalow. And – the pièce de résistance – there’ll be a spectacular 441.8m-long ‘sky garden’.
Tuesday. A Royal equerry arrives to collect a .pdf file for ‘His Royal Dudeness Prince Lovesexy’ as he’s started signing his letters.
I’ve made a few tweaks to Goonwallah, a high-density yet vibrant mini-utopia Charles is planning. Technically, Goonwallah is located on the outskirts of Bangalore. Emotionally, it is modelled on the village of Poundbury in Dorset. I’m trying to smooth the architectural narrative.
We’ll have to lose the Poundbury Vernacular aesthetic. There’s no such thing as ‘neo-ClassicFMism’ in Bangalore. We also need to minimise gnomes, ornamental lawns, double glazed conservatories and references to Slumdog Millionaire. We must emphasise palm trees, ‘WC facilities’, sustainable monarchy, Earth’s Precious Resources, green recarbonation and The King’s Speech.
It’ll be a fortnight before I get feedback from HRD. He now refuses to look at anything on a computer (sinister mental nanobots). The .pdf will be opened by an Attachments Equerry and then passed to a visualisation solutions agency in Mumbai. Very reasonable rates, actually.
Wednesday. Submit my latest ideas for private sector reform to Jenny at Number 10. She’s the obligatory Lib Dem maverick, working out of a converted meter cupboard in the annexe.
Spinning Jenny, we call her. Basically her job is to propose the unthinkable so that her Tory line manager can triangulate away from it and come up with something ‘progressive’. She takes the piss, they do the opposite. Of course, the more they ignore her the bolder she gets. Now we’re brainstorming a five-stage Public Finance Initiative.
1. Create Shareholder Britain by making everyone a shareholder. 2. Encourage education bodies, the NHS
and local councils to become developers. 3. All profits from social housing, hospitals and schools go to shareholders.
4. Remove red tape to allow the public sector to create an in-house design and construction industry. 5. Undertake projects for the private sector at commercial rates, with
a punitive 40-year maintenance clause.
Anything other than their Plan A has to sound deranged, so they can recoil from it. Jenny reckons they’ll leak it a couple of days before the next big Osborne speech, so he can work up some jokes about the unions.
Thursday. My masterplan for New Mercia, unveiled only days ago, has already been duplicated in China. Well, syndicated, technically. As soon as I discover where to send the invoice, they’ll be hearing from me.
As with New Mercia, the idea is to create a megalopolis-tastic Big Society by merging nine cities into one. Their map looks almost identical to the one I produced for the Tamworth League. Our welding spots are Manchester, Morecambe Bay, Birmingham, Nottingham, Hull, Leeds and the engorged hyperconurbation of Greater Tamworth.
The Chinese masterplan envelops 42 million people in a massive urban slanket, but sounds much crasser than ours. ‘Rejoice Pearl River Delta Roaring Lion Cub Is Male’? Idiots. That’s going to be one very chewy mission statement.
Friday. So many HATERS out there. There’s an extremely discourteous level of negativity at the launch party for hydepark.1 – my harmless £500m luxury apartment block in ‘swanky’ Knightsbridge.
I’m asked a lot of awkward questions. Have I designed it for Ronald and Reginald Bullingdon, the photogenic yet very private entrepreneurial siblings who live on an island in the sky? Yes. Guilty as charged. Sue me.
How can I possibly square all this guff about ‘social progress’ with a penthouse flat in hydepark.1 on the market for £140m? Easily. There’ll be some young proto-Berlusconi gazing up, imagining life in the penthouse with its robot kitchen and bunga-bunga suite. It may well inspire him to progress, socially.
Saturday. Turn down a gig to remodel Egypt. Party wall problems are a total nightmare.
Sunday. Dreamline drawing in the recliner.