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Farewell to a jazz architecture legend, hello to a mighty hangover

Ian Martin explores some Portable Dystopia

Monday
Redesign my prototype Coalition Secondary School, incorporating a 40 per cent cut in overheads with a much cheaper canvas roof.

Tuesday
Meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Taskforce, games minister Suzi Towel in the chair.

Joining us today are members of the creative team who will produce the 2012 opening and closing ceremonies. Oscarwinning film people, the bloke who did U2 The Musical with the giant flying Bono, etc.

Suzi looks uncomfortable. Nobody’s told them we’re abandoning high concept for low budget. ‘Then there’s like this huge musical number…’ gushes the creative director, ‘…with the junkies from Trainspotting dancing with the happy, colourful underclass from Slumdog Millionaire, and Elton John dressed as Billy Elliot, yeah, driving a new Routemaster across this massive CGI rainbow…’

Suzi’s frozen smile makes her look like she’s died in her sleep. I pass her a note: ‘Don’t worry, guy in the peach blouson’s an architect. Once they find out exactly how much money we’ve got he’ll be the one to throw a sulky fit and get everyone else to walk out. Then we go to Plan B and have the military parade instead.’ We all applaud the creative director and send him and the team off with a Mexican wave.

Next agenda item: Going For Architectural Legacy Gold. We have until teatime to solve east London through rhetoric, analysis, coffee and biscuits. Yay!

Wednesday
The summer issue of Epic Space Quarterly arrives. Quite a daunting theme: ‘Why do people hate us so much?’

Cleverly, this question is answered in an oblique and subliminal way. An early clue is in the magazine cover itself. It’s made from fragile tree bark that dissolves on touch, revealing the contents page but also covering your clothes in powdered bark, to avenge the despoilation of Planet Earth.

The main feature is by celebrated collage artist Conan Andrum. Fragments of poetry, found images, a selection of typefaces and, here and there, random passages highlighted in red to keep us all on our toes. It’s called ‘Architecture Is The Grain In The Wood Of The Furniture We Call Our Urban Habitat’.

Elsewhere there’s an exclusive about how Sainsbury’s plans to undercut Tesco’s eco-villages by including free duckponds as a loss leader. An interview with Tub Hagendaas, the anti-architect’s anti-architect, in which he describes the entire material world as ‘a false contract of connectivity’ and talks about his favourite soup. There’s a photo essay on Portable Dystopia, explaining how a new generation of guerrilla placemakers are transforming harmless but wrong suburban sites into corrected ‘encountered urban analogues’ with charred scaffolding planks, plastic bags and graffiti.

Thrillingly the editorial has been left blank, allowing readers to make their own minds up about why people hate them.

Thursday
Unveil my plan to significantly improve public affection for 1960s architecture. I’m proposing that people should be encouraged to mourn those irreplaceable treasures we’ve lost to thoughtless redevelopment and anti-modernist prejudice, and remember them all with affection. At the same time people should be discouraged from looking at most of the 1960s shit that has somehow survived.

Friday
A very sad day. To the funeral of Herbie Dumplings, the celebrated jazz architect who has passed away in his lunch.

Every contemporary jazz architect of note is here to pay tribute to perhaps the last of that pioneering generation who took the postwar art-deco revival, improvised over it until it became unrecognisable, added a new palette of shapes and textures from across the world to create ‘world jazz architecture fusion’ and then died of heroin overdoses.

The eulogy is given by jazz architectural historian ‘Blake’ Blakey. ‘Herbie was a true pish pish wap ga-blap innovator in his wabbeda wabbeda wabbeda field. Today we bid tss tss drr-blap farewell not only to a great man, sheboo shebam, but to a master technician. Let’s remind ourselves of what Herbie could do with squee babbeda babbeda shuttered concrete over a spap bap ka-tish bossa nova grid…’

Then there’s a four-hour slide show with a drum solo in the middle. RIP Herbie.

Saturday
After the all-night wake for Herbie, a terrible hangover. Or as he would have said, a ‘tss tss wap bap widdly widdly pish bitching cantilever, baby’.

Sunday
Recliner. Read the Herbie Dumplings obit in the Creative on Sunday, self-consciously clicking my fingers against the cadence of the spiky, syncopated text.


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