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The life and death of the community hub

Ian Martin designing the World’s Fattest Building

MONDAY. Construction work has started on my block of luxury riverside flats in London.

Zone 1, too. That’s a good zone to be in, lifestyle-wise. There will be fantastic views of Zone 1’s other luxury flats, which is reassuring for everybody.

I suppose the architecturally correct brigade would like to force people who live in luxury flats to overlook an inter-war council block or an old-fashioned ‘state school’, to shame them. Grow up, you bleating windbags, I’m being ‘contextual’ yeah? This is ZONE 1.

Now the site’s fenced off, the hard work begins. I need some marketing blurt in a nice font. Neutral to the point of meaningless. At this early stage you have to sell the ‘idea’ of a luxury flat with a posh tagline repeated along the hoarding. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Hats off to whoever coughed up ‘Live By Example’, the aspirational curtilage of a similar clattered stack of real estate just down the river.

I don’t know what ‘Live By Example’ means. It is unknowable. The sub-text is probably ‘Oysters Are For Losers’. I have to come up with something at least as blank. Off we go then. Destination Bathos – and Beyond!

TUESDAY. Rock Steady Eddie the fixer rings. A billionaire client wants to create a unique global icon. Something ‘fresh’.

Now designing World’s Fattest Building.

WEDNESDAY. Nice chilled day with my old mate Beansy the nanofuturologist. Shoes off, nuts and olives and whatnot, a jug of what he calls his ‘isotonic plus’ and some casual brainstorming. We think up a few luxury flat slogans but they all vaguely mean something, so are useless.

Beansy has a ‘bing’. Why not create an aspirational algorithm based on letting agents’ rhetoric? He activates some sort of bullshit harvester, we go to the pub while it’s processing. By the time we’re back 2,875,992 meaningless slogans have been generated. So Beansy creates another, better algorithm and we both doze off watching the cycling on telly.

THURSDAY. Beansy’s anti-coherence vectoring has reduced the list of possible ‘marketing minibites’ to just 10: ‘Performance Quality’, ‘Life Exception’, ‘Deserve In Space’,  ’Magnetic Values’, ‘High + Focus’, ‘Ahead Of The Post-Style Curve’, ‘A Taller Peace’, ‘Win-Win Boxing’, ‘The Reloaded New’, ‘Upgrade To You-Class’. Wait a minute, that last one looks familiar. Come to think of it, they ALL do. Whoa, so this is actually how it’s done.

I encourage Beansy to create an architectural trope algorithm. I could clean up here.

FRIDAY. Oh, nice. Just when I thought my unique blend of three-dimensional street magic and ‘smart invoicing’ couldn’t GET any less fashionable. The Urban Nodality Commission has released the findings of its inquiry into the catalytic design professions.

Title: Oversexed, Overpaid and Overhubbed. Executive summary, conclusion: ‘The hub is the only building “type” to have flourished in the recession. Its twofold premise – anything can be called a hub, and a hub will make things happen – has made it hugely popular with local politicians, architectural journalists and special interest groups such as the Association of Hub Administrators.

‘However, at the current density (a median of eight hubs per hectare in built-up areas) we have reached saturation point. Furthermore the social energy fields created by each hub have overlapped and locked, creating entrepreneurial stasis.

‘The Urban Nodality Commission firmly believes it is time to call at least some of these hubs something else, in an attempt to unlock social energy fields and stimulate flux…’

Brilliant. So the arse falls out of the hub game just as I’m about to sign off on a community hub, a Hub of Reconciliation, a digital hub, a fashion hub, a ‘pop-up pub-hub’ AND a post-Conran furnishing hub called Hubitub, all in the same shitty Leicestershire town.

Back to Beansy’s.

SATURDAY. We run the architectural trope algorithm, which has been modified to filter out all hub-related shenanigans. Excitingly, a ‘proto-trope’ emerges from the wine-dark sea of data, like a mud skipper flapping about ready to be the next big thing.

Goodbye hub, hello PIN. A pin sounds more focused, thinner and cheaper than a hub. We’re thinking it could just be like a smart bollard or a community pole. Put a pin in the neighbourhood, come back to it later.

Might start work on some kind of ironic ‘drawing pin’ for architects.

SUNDAY. Upgrade to Me-Class in the recliner.

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