Ian Martin answers his critics
MONDAY. Knocking out a few rough building ideas for Rio 2016. So far I’ve got a bagel-shaped velodrome, a main stadium that looks like a wok and an aquatic centre that draws heavily on the timeless form of the pilchard.
Not sure about the Olympic Village yet. I wanted to go with a ‘hip favela’ feel, but you know how people like to play the ‘cultural sensitivities’ card.
TUESDAY. Talking of which, I’m designing a ‘women-only city’ in Saudi Arabia. It’s actually a smallish industrial estate, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic. A ‘women-only city’ gets you top sidebar in the tackier online papers; according to my fixer, Rock Steady Eddie, that’s now the premier showcase for quality design. As he always says: there’s no such thing as bad controversy.
He’s urging me to start talking up the hospice I’m working on as a ‘death camp’, and to rebrand the luxury bachelor apartment commissioned by a hugely respectable Middle Eastern prince as a ‘sex hutch’.
WEDNESDAY. To the Royal Institute for the Pop-uption of British Architects, where a noisy protest is in full swing.
President Molly Bismuth is in defiant mood. So are members of staff. They all have paper hats with their names on. ‘For too long we have suffered the ignominy of obscurity!’ she shouts. ‘we will be gagged and muffled no longer! It is time to stand up and tell the world who we are and what the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects actually does!’ There’s an extended pause. I slip away from the silence, back into the bustling street.
THURSDAY. You know, internationally-renowned architecture critics can sometimes come across like a prissy cartel of mewling wankers. Especially when they’re having a go at me.
This time their criticism is especially harsh and unjust. I took enormous care when designing the new visitor centre at Marmalade, in eastern France. Modernist colossus L’Obscurier created his masterpiece here: the breathtaking anarcho-Catholic Chapel of Notre Dame du Marmalade. Of course I know how sensitive a site this is. I’m not an idiot.
My visitor centre has been made extra-discreet by being scattered across the hillside, so that from a far distance it looks almost semi-transparent. Throughout the design process I asked myself constantly: ‘If L’Obscurier were alive today, would he approve of this commercial effloresence erupting all over his vision?’ It’s a tough question to keep asking yourself. Over and over, I kept toughly answering myself: ‘Yes, this is brilliant. L’Obscurier would have bloody loved this. Well done, carry on.’ So, critics - game, set and match to me.
Some of the niggles are frankly laughable. My new structures ‘impact’ the landscape, do they, speccy prick from the New York Times? I suppose you’d like to keep the Marmalade Chapel a cosy little secret, visited only by you and your pretentious friends every now and then. Or are ordinary people not allowed to see this masterpiece too? Are they not allowed a roof over their heads while they buy tickets? Are they not allowed to eat, or shop, or adequately park? The project brief called for a ‘cost-negative’ visitor centre and that’s what the client has got. A sacred place first and foremost, but also a focused money-spinner.
‘Out of scale’ is it, bald dickhead from Die Welt? You don’t even know what scale I was working to; maybe it was supposed to look 110 per cent ‘normal’ size. ‘Disembodied’ is it, pompous shitballoon from Le Figaro? I’ll tell you what I’d like to see disembodied: your stupid hat-wearing head! ‘The vertical mullions clash horribly with the horizontality…’ SHUT UP FAT MAN-EGG FOM CHINA DAILY, YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE MULLIONS UPSIDE DOWN.
Now that I have answered my critics, I hope I will be left in peace to carry out my next prestigious job, a fitness hub at Durham Cathedral.
FRIDAY. Design a ground-breaking green supermarket that generates more energy than it uses.
This is achieved with a complex series of sustainable operating systems, including an innovative thermal harvester that converts human warmth into electrical power and ‘eats’ anyone who’s too cold.
Spare blood/plasma is then recycled via a ‘smart generator’.
SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Festival of Britain-style tonical nationalism 0, niche Recessionary Concessionism 1, after extra time for going into administration.
SUNDAY. Ample self-parking in the recliner.