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Designing a multiple-choice me

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Ian Martin dables in architectural spread-betting

MONDAY Tweaking the details of Moon Base Beta, the construction site for my lunar new town.

The first thing to do is to get basic regolith printing equipment up there. A module will land close to the Sea of Tranquility and stay inert for a couple of days, adjusting to the space-time difference and ‘settling in’.

Then a tubular module’s remotely unpacked from mission control, inflating a dome-shaped Clerk of Works office. This balloon is then overlaid with moon glue and dust tiles, as simply as you’d create a papier-mâché globe. Once the Lunar office has been built, we’ll print a table and chair for the robot Clerk of Works and some humanising touches, such as a printed vase of flowers and a mug with ‘You Don’t Have To Be Lunar To Work Here But It Helps!’

Once that’s signed off, the robot Clerk of Works can be printed and programmed to oversee the construction of
the construction workers required to print out the lunar new town itself.

At this stage it’s undecided whether the settlement will be a luxury destination for space tourists or an overspill camp for asylum seekers and those unable to afford affordable housing, so we’re deferring any architectural decisions for as long as possible.

TUESDAY Another existential crisis looms. I did that spread-bet thing, where you enter a poorly regulated design competition several times using multiple identities in order to increase your chances of winning.

The competition was for a ‘signalisation marker to re-stimulate interest in Tamworth’s exclusive Millennium Quarter’. This former scrubland and municipal tip on the outskirts of the town was designated a ‘corporate internet village’ back in the late 1990s, when liberation from the twin tyrannies of social responsibility and the dial-up modem was a distant dream.

Despite new local authority infrastructure, some off-book lunches with exotic puddings and a brochure comparing Tamworth’s Millennium Quarter to London’s Docklands, nobody came. Now the feeling is that if the right marker can be built it will attract business investment as a bird feeder attracts sparrows.

I’ve entered the competition five times. As myself, as my friend Darcy’s border collie Bess of Hardwick, as my fictional twin brother Ramone, as the metarchitectural dachshund Bauhau, and as a design collective called Apptecture. God,

I hope I win as myself. Otherwise the paperwork’s going to be a nightmare. My marker variants are:

  • A giant abandoned sofa in idealised form, apparently being lifted off the ground by a big balloon to symbolise the triumph of the human spirit over illegal fly-tipping, made from recycled, illegally fly-tipped materials.
  • A ‘geometric tower grid’ of uncertain theme, calculated to act as a structural aperitif for anticipated investment in the area and incorporating spinning biscuits of light to help the observer ‘visually digest’ everything.
  • A retro shuttered-concrete ‘urban collar’ overlayered with
    a necklace of trees, to stand as an exemplar of growth and renewal in both the abstract and vegetative senses.
  • A half-scale trompe l’oeil office tower, with miniature people etched into the glass skin and looking hopefully out, with a sort of glowing bulb at the top to underline the importance
    of puzzled thinking.
  • An elegant tapering tower of fondled steel with the word ‘MARKER’ written up the side in Helvetica.

WEDNESDAY Oh God, the five shortlisted schemes for the marker competition have all been designed by versions of me! Unfortunately in a situation like this, when the quality of entries is so high, there have to be losers. Four of them will be yours truly.

THURSDAY Phew. I’ve won the marker competition as the non-existent design collective. Spend the day inventing
my team.

The boss will be the real me, obviously. I’ll have a grouchy old-timer who once did jazz council housing for the GLC. A sassy young graduate with crazy ideas about how we might live in a post-coherent world. A down-to-earth design technician who turns out to be a Scientologist. A bluff conservative who shmoozes all the deals but who has lost his soul.

FRIDAY Toy with the idea of having someone who can ‘get the job done’. Decide to make him a young, pitiable genius forced to work in an Indian draughting camp.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Styled-Out Catastrophism 1, Ironical Horrorism 1, after extra time and emotional deadlock.

SUNDAY Collect myselves in the recliner.

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