Ian Martin has lunch with Bauhau and his companion Darcy Farquear’say
MONDAY. Hugely cheered by a survey revealing that 98 per cent of people have ‘absolutely no idea’ what an ‘urban hub envisioner’ is.
Excellent. The mystery of my craft is essential not just for the lofty professional articulation of ‘austerity metanomics’ but more importantly for the setting of a proper fee scale.
TUESDAY. As sure as night follows day, some depressing news. Certain spiteful local politicians have leaked a confidential report highly critical of the Tamworth Bolus.
Breadheads, dullards and opportunists, the lot of them. It took me years to design the Bolus, a unique plasmic icon of progressive municipalism. It has been under construction since 2002. nobody can claim anything’s been rushed.
Yes, the budget has been overshot by £15 million. That alone should be testament to how much thought has gone into it. Just my bad luck that the Tamworth Bolus is an excuse for fashionable negativity. People see something noble and life-affirming and decide it’s cleverer to say ‘commercially and operationally flawed’. Vague talk of ‘issues’ with fire regulations and so on has marred what should have been a celebratory period, leading up to the (fingers crossed) official opening of the Bolus in due course.
It’s an ill wind, every cloud etc. While the building itself is becoming a reality, the local authority will now at least have a bit more time to determine what the 2,000 staff destined to work in the Bolus might actually be doing in two years.
WEDNESDAY. In the morning, design a building embodying the virtues of quiet understatement. In the afternoon, arrange to have it aggressively marketed.
THURSDAY. Lunch with Bauhau, the architectural critic and dachshund. He’s looking very smart in his bow-tie collar and skinny-fit red corduroy trouser suit. Also in attendance: Bauhau’s companion Darcy Farquear’say, former epic space correspondent for the Creative on Sunday. Darcy was once notionally in charge of this relationship. Then ‘Bauhau’ landed a gig as Darcy’s replacement and things got a bit strained.
It hasn’t helped that the column ghosted by Darcy - ‘Ground Zero, a canine look at new design’ - is more popular than Darcy’s elegant witterings ever were. ‘Hey Bauhau’ he says, sucking another large scotch through his ragged beard, ‘What do you think of the shard?’
Bauhau senses a cue and gives a little whimper, pleading for all this to make sense. Darcy does a ‘sad’ face. ‘He says the shard looks vewy, vewy tall to a ickle doggy. and he wonders if it’s in the wight place, or is the wight shape, or has any welevance to ickle doggies and their fucking so-called FRIENDS AT ALL!’
As management closes in to ask Darcy to keep the noise down, he slips helplessly to the floor, getting a dog’s-eye view of the world. Not for the first time, I reflect upon the capricious world of architectural criticism.
FRIDAY. Great work by my mate Dusty Penhaligon the conservactionist. He’s converted a neo-hippy mixed workplace for ruthless entrepreneurs back into a tea warehouse.
SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Actual Building 0, Signage Indicating Lifestyle Recalibration 1 after extra time for mortgage application.
SUNDAY. Newspaper review in the recliner. Bauhau’s Ground Zero column is veering dangerously close to some kind of existential implosion.
Described as ‘The Creative on Sunday’s resident cultural data sausage’, Bauhau now seems intent on biting the hand that feeds him. Reviewing a bike stand outside a laptopping club in soho, he says it’s ‘wilfully complex and flattering, as if affirming the cyclist’s mythic power and defying the ocean of doubt lapping at the edges of our self-consciousness…’
Elsewhere he describes the accidentally discovered industrial undercroft of a major museum as ‘healing space, a butch counterpoint to the cluttered drivel and meaningless throng of the galleries above’. It’s as if every aspect of the inhabited built environment disgusts him.
I half-expect Bauhau to be dropped as architecture critic any week now. On the other hand, I half-expect him to become a celebrity novelist.