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Dope gaffs and ambient urbipads

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Ian Martin’s ‘ambient urbipad’ wins Sick Crib of the Year

MONDAY About 20 years late, people are beginning to acknowledge my prescience. Of COURSE a new wave of pre-Modernism is rushing in to fill post-Modernism’s death vacuum. What ELSE was going to happen?

I predicted all this in the early 90s, along with the demise of the classic phone box and the whole internet shopping thing. We’re in for another decade of bet-hedging, old-new melangeism before the proper stuff starts up again.

My advice now, as then, is to talk loudly about baggy urban zoomorphism as a necessary counterpoint to pre-Modernism, or risk sounding like a complete dick. Oh, and everyone start wearing green trousers. .

TUESDAY Design an inflatable pop-up castle for a rich client seeking to impose himself and his fictionalised ancestry on the English countryside. It’s the size of Blenheim but we don’t need planning permission because a) it’s classed as a temporary tensile structure and b) as I say, rich client.

Obviously you have to be careful early on with inflatable pop-up castles - no swords indoors, etc - but once it’s been demonstrably inflated there’s nothing stopping you from filling it in with cement, putting proper floorboards down and so on. The current rural development regime is in many ways very much LIKE an inflatable pop-up castle, in that it has lots of loopholes moulded into it.

Next on my inflatable pop-up to-do list: a new Heston Blumenthal restaurant in a zeppelin moored over St James’s Park, called Blimp; a giant mobile gym modelled on a hamster ball; a cluster of bubble housing in a secluded, deluded part of Manchester, ironically named The Affordabubble.

WEDNESDAY Oh bollocks. I forgot to put design quality at the heart of the creative process. That’s a whole morning up the chimney. I start again, and put a note on the fridge to remind me next time.

THURSDAY Honoured that Dope Gaff magazine has voted my ‘ambient urbipad’ its Sick Crib of the Year.

The judges commended its ‘top atmos…a classy finish delivers the perfect hang-work space…great for showing off to your mates at weekends or if you just be solo jamming yo.’

Tremendous. Very pleased with it, I must say. A series of four uncompromising container shed-like boxes piled up in an uncompromising heap, the urbipad was slipped into a gap in a North Finchley terrace, without any of the neighbours noticing.

The boxes, or ‘environments’ are sheathed in a variety of off-beat skins (living bark, digital lichen, vinyl albums, petrified halloumi) to give it an eclectic desirability and the neighbours, bless them, are now used to groups of admirers in skinny jeans and Edwardian tops hanging around outside to see who’s going to emerge next. Last week the owner, CEO of a ‘grimefolk tonal logistics corporation’, had Miley Cyrus round. And THREE of Frank Sinatra’s children.

Let’s not forget the eco stuff, you’ve got to shove that in or what’s the point? So the whole unassuming stack of calmness is crowned with a sustainable ‘sky meadow’.

This blends urban context and nature’s bombast with sheaves of coneflowers, echinacea, hellebore, wild strawberry, a banging sound system and a Brutalist barbeque modelled on Stockwell bus station.

The Sick Crib award is particularly gratifying as the building was designed to Vibe Code for Awesome Homes Level 8. It features ‘chill piles’ utilising a shiznit-assisted ground-source dench pump to deliver supra-heezy ionised piff directly to a quality bliss bank slumped below ground level.

One can only envy the neighbours who bask within its vibal curtilage.

FRIDAY From vibal to tidal, as I sketch out some ideas to upgrade that mysterious stretch of the Thames - the bit that actually moves.

I’ve been asked to explore ways of getting people to acknowledge the river’s existence - an important first step towards heightened awareness, increased interaction and ultimately, fond memories of a terrific day out on a mudbank including dinner in a squelching pontooned café and a trip to Gravesend and back in an amphibious bus.

Other thoughts: mysterious wiggly red line running along the length of the river. Some weird maps. A community project called ‘Edible Biodiversity’ to encourage the local ‘mud people’ to nurture biodiversity by eating it, creating a perfect circle of ‘sanctuary to sandwich’.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Pre-Modernism 1, Pre-Modernism 2 after extra time and a pitch implosion.

SUNDAY Recharge batteries in the recliner by being asleep.

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