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Frozen music, melting verse. One is bad, the other’s a wind-up  

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This week in Ian Martin’s fantasy architectural world: the launch of the Campaign for Real Poetry

MONDAY. As president of the Society For Real Architectural Poetry, I can tell you we were totally gutted about that chuntering bag of bollocks written to celebrate 175 Glorious Years of the RIPBA.

Andrew ‘Frozen’ Motion may be the Poet Laureate. That doesn’t excuse ancient eyes peering from cave mouths, dream-hardening sunsets etc. Maybe he was on some literary PFI contract, part of a corporate initiative to put metaphor at the heart of the celebration process.

This week the Society launches a counter-offensive with a competition for poetry that rhymes and scans properly. Limericks would be ideal. Entries are already flooding in, along with suggestions on how the institute should REALLY be marking its 175th anniversary.

‘Spend £175,000 redesigning the crest again, maybe change the lions or whatever they are to dinosaurs’. ‘Increase the number of RIPBA Councillors to 175, the intellectual power of the institute would be tripled’. ‘Reduce my membership fee to £175’. Architecture. Such a broad, dense church isn’t it?

TUESDAY. This in from ‘Simon Monumentum’:

Proud. Defiant. A sacred giant.

Nothing compares to St Paul’s.

It stands right out

as there’s no doubt

the surrounding area’s balls.

WEDNESDAY. In the morning, I consider how the morphic resonance of epic space amplifies an individual idea into collective meaning. I then devise symbiotic design criteria which, with a bit of larking about in Photoshop, might – just might – create a new urban metabolism.

In the afternoon, I re-imagine Paris as a low-risk, zero-carbon urban centre, radiating out into manicured parkland and beyond that into a vast, partially submerged leisure and retail district terminating at Bluewater shopping centre, Kent. 

THURSDAY. Poignant haiku from ‘Les Ithmore’:

The client has not rung back.

I left a message.

She has not returned my call.

FRIDAY. Attend a gloomposium called Downcycling Towards The Upside. We’ll be seeing plenty of this in the months to come – misery rebadged as opportunity. Dull speeches. A beleaguered ‘small practitioner’ grates on about the synthesis of traditional design skills and credit control techniques through ‘overdrawing’. Someone in a beard tackles ‘Creativity + Accounting’ with particular reference to a new Volvo recently purchased for business use, competitively priced for a quick sale.

You can sense the lack of enthusiasm during the coffee break. The milling-about speed has slowed noticeably over the last 18 months or so. Now delegates trudge round with shit-eating grins, clutching optimistic pamphlets like they’re in some weird religious cult. 

One of the biggest problems is that architecture is a microcosm of what we used to call Society At Large, before they stopped us smoking in pubs. Cool Britannia decided that post-industrial meant an economy spun from ‘services’. Architects followed suit, spending less and less of their time designing things, solving spatial problems and shouting at people on building sites. And considerably more of their time on failed PFI bids, endless compliance paperwork and paintballing weekends.

We need a revolution of the tropegeist, or at the very least an extreme makeover of the hivemind.

SATURDAY. Cheap Eurorover return to Berlin to see the newly restored Museum of Possibilities, which I must say it’s alive with as there’s nothing in it yet.

Late lunch with the architect, my old mate Dave-O. The Germans love him and are getting him to rewire the city’s entire cultural neural network. He’s like a modern version of Albert Speer, but more ‘smart-casual’. He’d never land that sort of gig at home, obviously, where we like our museum do-overs Swiss and neutral.

SUNDAY. Deep brain power-thinking in the recliner, then it’s off to judge the poetry finalists. And hilariously the winner is…Andrew Motion! I know! Turns out he was just taking the piss with that RIPBA nonsense. Here’s his REAL poem:

A Classics professor from Vigo

said ‘The principle’s simple, amigo.

A proportioning grid

connects to the Id

but a pediment flatters the Ego’.

Boom boom. Andy mate, that’s quality.

See you at Highgrove next month for the Charity Poetry Slamathon. And try to cheer up a bit; in every photograph you look like a bloody architect.


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