Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

An odyssey of epic space, from Los Gherkinos to Turdiňa Plaza

  • Comment
MONDAY. Email from Raul Castro's office. Any thoughts on how to re-environmentalise Cuba? Later. Today, I'm turning low-grade peripheral land into a cash machine by creating a PFI hospital car park.

TUESDAY. Right. Cuba. Summary: now Fidel's spending more time with his imaginary friends at a private nursing home in Cienfuegos, the New Urbanistas want the usual Fairtrade, low-carbon, eco-freako makeover, with tourism. I email back some suggestions. Promote Havana as a premier smoking destination by commissioning a series of cigar-shaped icons (Los Gherkinos). Get Oscar Niemeyer to masterplan a new city with cultural and sexual quarters, and loads of concrete. Slap a Compulsory Purchase Order on Guantanamo Bay and convert it into an upmarket gated holiday camp. Nurture diverse communities by building 'Titan' prisons for domestic political prisoners. Revolutionary nightclubs with socialist chillout areas.

WEDNESDAY. My modular Tamworth Supercasino has been shelved for now. No matter. The 35 constituent Ominicasinio will be distributed throughout Mercia, to wait for the inevitable call to glory.

THURSDAY. Enter EU competition to design an affirmative public artwork for Turdiňa Plaza in Brussels.

FRIDAY. 'My name's Sarah and I'm an archiholic'. We're in a squatted Wesleyan chapel just off the Balls Pond Road. There are about 20 of us on chairs, in a perfect circle. To my left is Sarah. To my right is the idiot Darcy Farquearsay, my so-called friend and 'sponsor'.
Everyone here at Archiholics Anonymous (Hoxton and Digital Media Branch) is keen to share their pain, for hours, including a break for 'veggie dips' and celery. The pain is teased out in detailed accounts of addiction, often with sketches to be passed round. All addicts are tragically boring, and this lot are particularly tragic. You'd be better off popping some jaunty hats on the dry-rot-fruiting bodies upstairs and having a conversation with THEM.

'I wasn't even interested in architecture as a teenager' mewls Sarah. 'All my friends would be out on the lash, lurching from one historic pub to another, knocking back glimpse after glimpse of sash windows and Arts and Crafts corbelling. I was happy to stay in my bedroom with my solitary drinking and the crack pipe. Then one night there was a programme on Channel 4 about landmark buildings. Richard Rogers was being interviewed going up the escalators at the Pompidou. He was facing backwards, so he'd start glancing nervously over his shoulder as he got nearer the top. It was really exciting...

'I started to hit the urban landscape pretty hard after that. Initially it was just social gazing - guided walks, local-historical-society slideshows, a bus tour of Exeter's Archipops - but soon I was guzzling buildings one after another. It got to the point where I didn't care what I absorbed as long as it was architecture. A Brutalist school, a Tudor hall, a Post-Modern financial services headquarters...'

I pretend I'm going to the improvised bathroom downstairs then let myself out, smoke my way to the nearest pub, have a stiffener and smoke my way back again. Sarah's still going. 'I lost my job, my friends, even my cat who starved to death while I was on an Alvar Aalto mini-break. It got so bad I couldn't start the day without a DVD of Dan Cruickshank whispering inside Durham Cathedral'

Memo to Self: Kill Darcy. It's bad enough having to listen to him and his fellow neurotics. But when, as asked, I stand up and speak from the heart and tell them that I'm not an archiholic, that I'm only here because this big fucking baby in the cambric jumpsuit and sequinned beret sitting next to me needed moral support, and that I will punch him later, they all look at me with sympathy and understanding. They're convinced I'm coming back next week.

After the meeting, try to hit Darcy. He manages to hail a cab before I can get to him. I stand there fuming, then notice some exquisite stucco pilasters across the road...

SATURDAY. Meet Darcy in pub for ploughman's punch.

SUNDAY. In the real world, spend morning in the recliner. In Ninth Life Ð the immersive virtual environment 'for modern cats on borrowed time' - I am the fearsome avatar Gropius, armed with Modernist zeal and a 9mm.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.