Ian Martin re-architecturalises the Coalition’s policy narrative
MONDAY. This recession is killing me. I need to merge with someone, fast. decide to put a personal ad on Corbslist, the global designer matchmaking site. ‘BRITISH epic spatialist, early 1950s, GSOH, WLTMW some ASS-KICKING DUDES. Seeks synergy, moralising retrofit, international stature in corporate interiors, MORE?!’ Fingers crossed, again.
TUESDAY. To a Westminster pub. I’ve been asked by the Coalition to re-architecturalise their policy narrative. My client contact is a fat child called darren, who looks like a runner-up from The Junior Apprentice.
Typical. You think the job’s just a bit of exterior tarting-up. A fancy canopy here, some spiky urban landscaping there. Maybe some twirling, turbinating guff on the roof. Then it turns into something more serious, and structural. It takes me just two minutes of professional squinting to diagnose the problem. The private sector’s flashy, award-winning ‘moral extension’ is in urgent need of underpinning. Bummer.
There’s been a lot of subsidence lately, of course, but ultimately I blame the lying shit Blair. He knew that whacking up a moral extension on shaky unmade moral ground carried huge risks. What did he care? If it collapsed it wasn’t his problem, that’s what insurance is for, blame the generic moral architecture provider.
I promise to get a Re-architecturalised Policy narrative to Darren by the end of the week. The Coalition seems really keen to reach out to everyone, not only their supporters. ‘We need to listen carefully to our critics,’ says Darren, his face close to mine. ‘and then punch them unconscious…’
WEDNESDAY. Honoured to be one of the judges for the Material of The Year Award. As ever, the main criterion is not structural probity or environmental soundness. Or cheapness. Or durability. No, the main criterion is looking fantastic in architectural photographs viewed online.
In third place: ‘cardboard everywhere so it looks like the building’s just been unboxed’. In second place: ‘green jelly’. In first place: ‘baritone timber’.
THURSDAY. Corbslist thing hasn’t yielded much in the way of merger material, but I’m chasing up a few possibles. I quite liked those guys from Chicago and their ‘pop-up ethos’…
FRIDAY. Present my Re-architecturalised Policy narrative:
1. The public sector is a valuable resource, like underground shale. It appears to be inert and useless but if we frack the shit out of it, there’ll be plenty of siphonable wealth down there, trust us.
2. The British countryside should be Middle Easternised. At the moment it’s a depopulated, barren wilderness. If we can encourage a benevolent occupation by peace-loving developers, we can make the high-tech desert bloom and discover forests and meadows that turn out to be hundreds of years old.
3. Adjust the horizons of all those clapped-out northern industrial towns. Their butch negatitivity is bringing everyone down. Sorry, but we’ve tried ‘regenerating’ them with ‘conditional grants and platitudes’, now all we can do is ‘animate’ them with ‘delight and playfulness’.
4. Present our proud, historic maritime credentials to the world, and signal the unsinkability of the British spirit, with a chain of floating cinemas.
5. Celebrate the rich potential of our knowledge-based economy with ‘landscape interventions’ in parks up and down the country. These could be literate - ‘fantastic factology’ about pencils, or the human digestive system, or ants. They could be musical - park benches that play Classic TV Themes when you sit down. They could simply be cultural - big, challenging lumps of accessible art in wood and metal approved by a panel of celebrity artists and cleared by risk assessment contractors. Darren loves all this. We shake hands and swap. He gets all rights to the re-architecturalised policy narrative, I get a brown envelope stuffed with several poor bastards’ disability Living allowances.
SATURDAY. Sift through loads more responses to my Corbslist merger ad. I instinctively reject every US practice looking for ‘commercial architecture with a British and/or Irish accent’. However, there have been encouraging nibbles. One NYC firm is offering to ‘make competitors disappear, painlessly’. and I like the sound of Legacy Legacy Stickwag ‘olympic brandmakers from DC to Hollywood and beyond’.
The only one who sounds remotely compatible, to be honest, is a Texan architect called Jenny Todd Disco, who does not accept failure but ‘rather dares to dream the dream of doing. And through doing, wellbeing, subject to medical’. File under maybe.
SUNDAY. Self-merge in the recliner.