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Advancing civil architecture, one compound noun at a time

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Ian Martin has his brutalist makeover for Buckingham Palace Gardens thwarted

Monday. The Countdown to Christmas begins. I’m still sketching out ideas for a satirical Santa (Catherine de Medici?) but have settled on Megaform, Analog, Solar, Zero, Disposition, Energy, Nexus and Territorial Abstraction as names for the reindeer.

Tuesday. I have been appointed ‘project overthinker’ for a £20 million scheme to redevelop TamworthArtGallery. This will be the modern, tightened version of Tamworth Art Gallery.

What I will basically do is transform the gallery into a landmark and then transform it back again into an art gallery. Foolproof. Also innovative, sympathetic, blah blah, access and experience. Destination within a destination, boom, ka-tish. Problem: a ‘mandatory area where visitors can access collections by computer’. Solution: I remember the internet and hire someone to provide ‘an internet presence’.

Thus, if you follow TamworthArtGallery on Twitter it will automatically follow you back, creating a powerful alloy of social networking and old-fashioned courtesy.

Wednesday. To the Department for Entertainment for a meeting of the Urban X-Factor action committee.

Our main goal is to sign off the UK City of Culture brief. Places like Southend and Norwich will compete by showing how they will ‘use culture to achieve lasting social regeneration by engagement, widening participation and supporting cultural diversity’. And they will be obliged to deploy self-consuming, platitudinous arseplasma like that to win.

We decide to make things more interesting by forcing the mayors of all shortlisted cities to do something cultural in a talent round, with marks for impact, legacy and costume.

Thursday. I have written a bellowing, spluttering essay for Epic Space Quarterly called The Age Of Crumblement. In it, I ask questions about 21st Century Architecture’s first decade. Including Are You Taking The Piss and What Is That Supposed To Be and May I Suggest ‘Anaesthetecture’ As The Next Clever Compound Noun.

Friday. This is a very, very slow period for my extreme landscaping company, Eden’s Psychedelic Head Blossom. There are three reasons for this. 1. Shit weather, so everyone indoors. 2. Oligarchs now bored with magic arborealism, preferring diamond-encrusted gangster bunkers instead. 3. Extreme landscapism hit like everything else by the recession, repeatedly, in the guts.

It was going well until we were thwarted in our plan to give Buckingham Palace Gardens a brutalist makeover. Thwarted, actually, by nimby modernist twats. We had Her Majesty exactly where we wanted her, too - trapped in a delusion that she’s living in the 1950s, and keen to embrace Space Age Socialism.

It’s going to be a rude awakening when she finds out what happened to the Commonwealth.

Whatever. We’re now looking at an empty order book.

Then out of a clear grey skey my hippy partner Isis de Cambray calls. A local authority in the East Midlands is planning a Gateway to Renewal and they need some ‘edgy’ ideas. Fast! Luckily, Isis knows a Wiccan councillor there. A good outlinescheme, that’s all we need.

Isis and I agree that as the pitch is to clueless municipal provincial types we should play the haughty metropolitan card and just tell them what they want. A ‘tapas of landscaping appetisers’ with no real substance but lots of ‘green box-ticking’, which we’ll provide in the form of a fictional hessian-type material that you slip over box hedges to amplify your carbon credentials.

Possibly via some kind of spiritual resonance, we haven’t worked that bit out yet.

There will be a vertical mini-garden mounted on a wall of old bicycles and a recycling pun. And a U2 Rock Garden. And a ‘psychological garden’ challenging assumptions about gardens in a vaguely ‘mental’ way. There will be hanging baskets and swinging pergolas.

There will be a huge area ‘left blank for your civic inference’. In the middle of this will stand a hideous lump of art on the subject of war’s futility or the fundamental sameness of people, called Infinity and made by a local group of A-Level students.


Saturday. Hooray. They love our magic arborealism, but have asked us to include a ‘sensory garden’ as there are grants for these as long as they’re ‘value for money’.

Our solution is to blindfold all visitors and let them wander through a flint-walled maze containing aromatic plants, an electrified fence, a stray dog and a mischievous child armed with a water gun.

Sunday. Think about ‘anaesthetecture’ in the recliner, dividing it stylistically into ‘general’ and ‘local’.


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