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Round, like a circle in a spiral, like the windmills of your mind…

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Ian Martin thinks mini-icons for the masses and using martial arts on developers

Rock Steady Eddie the fixer rings. ‘Heads up mate, there’s an economic mood swing going on. It’s all wheels within wheels now. Think CONCENTRIC CIRCLES…’ God knows what he means, but he’s nearly always right.

Just as the Romans had household gods, we should encourage domestic icons.Emergency meeting at the Institute of Plasmic Arts. The ‘popular culture + architecture outreach program’ is in crisis. It was probably doomed at its inception by that lying shit Blair and his cabal of pop-up architects and shark picklers. The idea was to connect to the masses through shock and comedy. Alas, ‘ordinary people’ have remained stubbornly resistant. While architecture magazines and Channel 4 discussed the phenomenon of ‘starchitects’ competing to build ‘icons’ the Great Untouched were competing for a mortgage. It’s all very frustrating.

After 12 years we expected the trickle-down effect to have reached the most wilful of philistines by now. After Bilbao every major city felt obliged to register its status as a ‘world class city’ with a giant architectural cock on the skyline. And just as haute couture eventually seeps down through the CONCENTRIC CIRCLES of fashion to end up in Primark, so the haughty presence of the icon is now felt in provincial towns. Usually in the form of towers with names like The Tower. But still people are indifferent. Perhaps Icon Theory should be miniaturised even further, all the way through the societal onion layers to the individual, or ‘atomised consumer’ as we call her in the Sunday papers. Even if people don’t live in a world class city, or a county class village, they could live in a ‘street class home’ couldn’t they?

Just as the Romans had household gods, we should encourage domestic icons. These could be displayed publicly in the form of a controversial installation piece in the front garden - a disturbingly unmade flower bed, say. Or inside as the centrepiece of a private collection. Perhaps the Trafalgar Square Experiment could be scaled down with a ‘mantleplinth’ in pride of place above the fireplace. Family members could argue endlessly about what should go on it. A hamster in formaldehyde, for instance. At the very least, half a pickled egg.

To a conference on New Adverbs For Global Warming. It has been revised at the last minute to Geo-Engineering, Investment Opportunities. Very interesting contribution from Lord Garamond of Tweetdeck, the renowned venture capitalist who lives abroad. He presents a diagram of the earth and its atmosphere in section as it might look in 2049. It’s a series of CONCENTRIC CIRCLES. From ground level up it goes: taxable air, premium unleaded, Oxygen Lite, Sky Plus, O2 Priority, Sulphur Dioxide, Chinese, Cyberspace, Secularised Firmament.

Explore the theory of CONCENTRICITY further by circulating at a networking event held by the local Rotary Club.

Invitation from the Shadow Land and Rural Planning committee, SLURP. They want me to join the mischief as they stir up a huge row about the future of the Green Belt. The government has cautiously announced a possible relaxation of planning rules, as housebuilders are sulking about being prevented from building there. This has drawn furious opposition from the Campaign for Real Countryside. They aspire to traditional values, specifically those of the 1953 film Genevieve.

I suggest we re-imagine the system as a series of CONCENTRIC CIRCLES around built-up areas and allow developers to progress through these ‘belts’ in the same way as a martial arts practitioner. So they’d first have to demonstrate proficiency at building in the most remote area (White Belt) before moving closer in to more hard-ass commuter belts. Am beginning to think Rock Steady Eddie is some kind of genius.

Metaphorical workshop at the RIPBA. The institute desperately needs to get its message across about how vitally important architects are in every creative process, from novelty jellies to websites. I have a brainwave. Suppose - just suppose - we think of the procurement system as a Human Body. Now we draw CONCENTRIC CIRCLES on the chest area, like a TARGET. Well, then the RIPBA could say that their ‘aim’ is to ‘put design quality at the heart of the procurement process’. Boom.

Thought-shower in the recliner. Isn’t the notion of environmental impact like a stone cast into a pond, the consequent ripples radiating through the world like CONCENTRIC CIRCLES? The phone rings, concentrically. It’s Rock Steady Eddie, with next week’s outlook: fractal.


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