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Getting the country back on its feet, and the profession back on its pedestal

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Ian Martin invents the design, build, stand and deliver procurement system

MONDAY. I have entered a government-sponsored recovery design competition. They’re looking for a massive infrastructure and housebuilding programme, ‘asafp’.

Start thinkstorming. By teatime I’m surrounded by crumpled paper and all I’ve written down is ‘£100 billion should do it!’ Though in fairness I have underlined this, twice.

TUESDAY. Making progress on my recovery initiative. I’ve drawn a pastoral landscape. On the left, wind turbines and Glastonbury. On the right, sustainable development and acres of arable investment opportunity.

Across the horizon I’ve written ‘Aims and objectives: boost growth, create jobs!’

WEDNESDAY. Definitely taking shape now. I’m playing around with the idea of using private sector capital funding to build new power stations, rented housing, hospital gift shops, toll pavements etc.

It’s a novel and daring approach. I call it the ‘design, build, stand and deliver’ procurement system.

THURSDAY. For my proposals to be credible they have to demonstrate at least a notional source of money.

That’s it, exactly – notional! Theoretically there’s a fortune out there, it’s just locked up in complicated pension funds and whatever. Those who carry the burden of wealth are feeling nervous about spending at the moment and who can blame them?

Under ‘funding’ I just put ‘if we build a framework of stable regulation, it will come’. I’m so confident that I DOUBLE the proposed investment. The cynics can sneer all they like. £200 billion theoretically buys a bloody lot of construction.

FRIDAY. My friend Darcy Farquear’say the architecture critic has ‘scored a couple of invites’ to the prestigious 4R Awards tomorrow night. Do I want to go?

Darcy is not a 1970s San Francisco pimp. When he says he ‘scored’ invitations, he simply means he’s been sent them by the PR company retained for the event. Also, I’m assuming the organisers have a strict no-pets rule, and that I’m a last-minute replacement for Darcy’s architectural dachshund Bauhau.

Still, I’m in. The 4R Awards (Retreat, Rebadge, Remagine, Relaunch) is an important annual celebration of what architects can achieve when they focus their considerable creative powers on a worthy subject. Themselves.

SATURDAY. A glittering, tittering crowd at the mid-range London hotel where Awards Night is taking place.

It reminds me of the old days, when architects gathered to give each other prizes for brilliant buildings, although my memory’s not what it was and I may have invented that.

Tonight, the prizes are for architectural excellence in the redesign and re-use of architectural practices. Which, let’s face it, is no less important than designing mobile protest kiosks, ‘urban respite spaces’, culture hubs and clothes shops.

Architects aren’t the stuffy old deadheads they used to be. They are an integral part of the knowledge economy. Any profession that allows the neologism ‘remagine’ to attach itself to them like a brainless limpet deserves all the success they can garner, even if that success is in the field of peer recognition. 

Darcy chides me for being a curmudgeon. He’s wearing a three-piece swagged hemp suit, retro neon wrestling boots and a lumberjack hat, so I weigh his judgment carefully. It’s free drinks for the first hour, and my mood soon lightens. I raise a glass to epic space: ‘Architect, design thyself!’

Facade of the Year goes to Manningham Downham Architects, who reduced staff at their Leeds head office from 52 to four last month but keep them moving about near the windows, so nobody’s noticed.

Best Website Award. The winner is Unique Design Logistics/CentralBANG for an innovative ‘reversible’ web presence. The homepage invites visitors to click on either ‘Unique Design Logistics’ or ‘CentralBANG’. One whisks you off to a profile page where they’re looking trustworthy in suits and hard hats. The other offers tieless dudes looking at skateboard videos on an iPad. ‘Twice the integrity, double the options’ is their motto, in both versions.

The Special Award for Colon Efficiency goes to :r::D::a: (the firm formerly known as Radon Daughters & Associates). Since the multi-colon rebrand :r::D::a: have registered a 22 per cent year-on-year increase in stationery output. An intern is solely responsible for checking that potential clients, service suppliers and news editors spell it correctly, and for answering the phone. ‘Colon lower case r double colon upper case D double colon lower case a colon, how may I help you?’

SUNDAY. Retrofit self into recliner by waking up and discovering I’m already in it.

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