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Ian Martin: A new London superhub, a good design ‘vibes harvester’ and a housebuilding Thunderball

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Ian Martin measures aesthetic experience, from transcendent epic space to poorly-designed bollocks

Monday. Work up my Centre for the Study of Human Rights in Beijing, which will bring together key stakeholders in the dissidence industry. Here, social scientists can study human rights in some detail, and at length.

I have devised an especially humane environment, with lots of little flourishes. The secure minimalist interior will please governments and architects everywhere: stylish, underplayed and with a ‘floating floor’ separated by several mm from Western notions of morality.  

Tuesday. Meeting of the Tamworth League.  We’re putting an advert on the internet this week for a Visionary Architect to masterplan New Mercia. ‘No breadheads or timewasters, must have own wheels and dig prog arch’.

We propose to simplify all pointless regional agencies by returning to the 8th Century Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. New Mercia, once again, will take the lead. Offa, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, set the world alight by inventing market towns. We will do it again, encouraging local specialisms like they did with cheese or lacework in the old days.

This time round markets will reflect contemporary niche trades such as atheist relics, local vegetables, and sex tourism.

Wednesday. Meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Task Force. Games mistress Suzi Towel in the chair. As usual, the meeting begins with a Mexican Wave and a reminder that the word ‘Olympics’ must always be followed by a communal ‘yay!’

Positive mood today. Our public approval rating has improved - we’re three per cent less unpopular than six months ago. This is largely due to a very busy government keeping us off the front page, but still. ‘It is by no means not a mean feat to both be approved of and simultaneously to be keeping a low profile on the news radar!’ squeaks Suzi. She should know. The coalition still haven’t twigged that she’s nothing to do with them and was appointed by the lying shit Blair.

‘The other bit of good news is that the pressure is a teeny bit off having to make these Games a world class Olympics – yay! – as the prime minister is going to turn east London into a massive technology superhub of which the Olympics – yay! – is but a single component part of that. So well done us, our legacy is guaranteed’.

On paper, it does look like quite a good deal the PM’s struck with the world’s international technology firms and venture capitalists. 1. Rebadge the Olympic area as the most attractive place in the world for digital start-ups. 2. Everyone abandons California and South Korea in favour of Stratford, where for example the new velodrome will be turned into an Arena of Innovation. 3. House prices go up again, proving that Britain Can Take It.

‘He does look well, doesn’t he, Tony these days?’ says Suzi. She’s pointing at a photograph of David Cameron. I’m starting to think that keeping her on is less an oversight than a strategy. A new minister might start asking all sorts of questions.

Thursday. I have combined Wow Factor Performance Indicators and General Wellbeing Benchmarks to create the world’s first Architectural Happiness Index.

This will put an end to style wars for ever. Instead of trying to ‘guess’ how good a building is, we can monitor its worth by harvesting the ‘vibes’ generated by visitors. Special thermo-cerebral sensors will measure aesthetic experience on a sliding scale, from transcendent epic space to poorly-designed bollocks. Results will be weighted for incidental drinking or something good on telly, as that isn’t strictly speaking architectural. 

Friday. I give a cautious welcome to the New Homes Rollover scheme. While acknowledging that the private sector is failing to deliver ‘fit for purpose’ homes of appropriate sustainability, I urge caution in the allocation of so-called Housing Lottery money, in case it goes to the wrong local authorities. The sort who would cynically commission low-quality development in order to build more units and earn a bonus.

Housing, I remind myself, is not just about bricks and mortar. It is about people. ‘Bricks and mortar’ is just a cliché meaning ‘buildings generally’. Likewise when I urge us all to consider the needs of ‘people’ that is shorthand for ‘architects specifically’.

Saturday. Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Architecture as Autopoiesis 1, Architecture as Autocoitus 2, after extra time and a cigarette.

Sunday. Make notes in the recliner for my new book, The Heptarchitecture Of New Mercia.


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