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A sounding board for what sounding boards ought to look like

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A very congenial six-hour ‘thinking lunch’ helps Ian Martin formulate a 10-point plan

In the morning, take part in a video conference exploring the nature of community. Topics include How To Grow Social Cohesion, Stakeholding Equals Bridgebuilding and People Are Selfish And Stupid, That’s Why We Need Consultants.

In the afternoon, watch live news coverage of the floods in Cumbria – heroic policemen, rescue operations in the freezing darkness, the kindness of neighbours, the quiet stoicism of ordinary people – before remembering there’s a repeat of Jeremy Kyle on the other side.

Finish sketches for the world’s most environmentally sound airport in Blingnang, China. It is the city’s seventh, and easily the most auspicious.

There are shopping opportunities and travelators. The airport will have an iconic something or other poking up, visible for miles around, plus permission to appear in Google searches. Most importantly, it will demonstrate that properly organised air travel is actually the greenest form of transport.

How? Through imaginative offsetting and ‘carbon suck-out’ of COURSE, idiot. Emissions will be halved through creative data sequestration, and euthanasia. Under a planning gain agreement lots of people in their twenties will be executed, amassing a considerable amount of carbon lifetime credit to balance things out.
Don’t give me any psychomuff about ethical choices in architecture either, I have included a recycling centre.

A very congenial six-hour ‘thinking lunch’ hosted by the Greater London Authority’s New Directions advisory panel (GLAND).

My old friend Loaf - the loveable, bumbling, mumbling, moptop mayor of London – is on a roll. His Great Bendy Bus Purge has begun, the Christmas tree will be going up soon in Trafalgar Square and… well that’s about it, really. Still, he’s in buoyant mood and has constellated around him a dazzling group of thinkers, venture capitalists, curators, epic spatialists, personalities, friends and a woman.

Our job is to tell him how new bits of London should look. Or rather, tell him what he should say about how they should theoretically look. Obviously, once they’re built it’s a bit late for any useful influence, but if they end up looking shitty we can always say they ignored our clever advisory guidelines. Loaf, wearing as per his Olympic contract a Cadbury’s Miniature Hero costume, calls the lunch to order.
Prayers in Latin are followed by the Loyal Toast. Then a bread roll fight is followed by a modern, dynamic, vibrant and diverse lunch. Over pudding, we formulate a 10-Point Plan:

1. All new buildings to look especially good when viewed at 15mph on a bike.
2. Deliver and promote a world-class sense of ‘welcome’ by recruiting up to 12,000 volunteer Host City Expectation Managers during the Olympic Games, to ‘narrativise’ the built environment.
3. More Armagnac.
4. Design to be championed by experts dressed as Achilles and Hector.
5. All sounding boards to be properly varnished and remunerated.
6. Fine-tune the ‘Only In London’ brand vision by emphasising the capital’s USPs, eg £10 sandwich, £5 Guinness.
7. Redefine London’s public spaces as ‘beautifully designed oases throughout the capital’s urban jungle’.
8. Maybe leave out the ‘urban jungle’ bit.
9. Organise a smoking amnesty in designated Gothic spaces.
10. Create a ‘world class strolling city’ with drinking fountains, oom-pah bands, hilarious midgets, bunting, exciting new architecture and deckchairs.

Sorted. Coffee, imaginary cigars, mints, mint fight, carriages at teatime.

My Tamworth Small Animal Hospital has won the Best New Building in Mercia Award. The judges lavished praised on my cat scan suite.

To Rome, for drinks and nibbles at GLIZZI, Zaha’s swoony new art hub. In the cultural universe it has the gravitational pull of a cultural Saturn.

It looks great, very imposing and polished. It reminds me of the Courts of Justice in Caprica. The nibbles are exquisite too: warped and layered tubes of space. There are beautifully-dressed architecture critics from all over the world. It’s a Babel of extended metaphors.

I am halfway round the immersive interior landscape when I spot two other visitors from the UK. Darcy Farquear’say, epic space correspondent of the Creative on Sunday, and his companion Bauhau the dachshund. They are wearing matching deconstructivist ponchos. Oh, they’re edgy all right.

Still in Rome, acting locally.

Look forward to end of recession by adopting recovery position in the recliner, rolling out evidence of green shoots and smoking it.


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