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Twisting again, an unsure restart, glowing newts

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Ian Martin develops the inhabited windmill

MONDAY Just designed my 1,000th ‘innovative twisting tower block’. Wow. It’s been quite a journey.

I still remember my first innovative twisting tower block. The future of architecture was being smelted in the crucible of landmark buy-to-let apartment blocks. My client was astonished. ‘It looks like a still from the Wizard of Oz!’ he squeaked. Since then, ‘frozen musical twisters’ have appeared all over the world and still architecture continues to squirm towards its ultimate goal: a perfected contemporary condominium vernacular on the outside, luxury minimalism with twigs in vases on the inside.

What will follow these stylish tornados? Well, I’m already working on my autumn catalogue of weather-influenced architectural tropes. Can’t say too much, but watch out for flood-effect paving, hurricane-wracked retail environments with artificial drizzle, and a wide-spectrum Desertification of the North.

TUESDAY I’ve been asked by a local authority services provider to rationalise their network of hubs. By ‘rationalise’ they mean ‘justify’ of course. My solution is to pretend each hub distributes some kind of community ‘electricity’ generated by a central community electricity ‘hubstation’, which I propose to design quickly for cash, thus proving several points at once:

• Local government accountability is an added value that services providers simply cannot afford on our behalf.
• A hub is as good as a nod if you bypass the planning committee.
• Static community electricity can be created by rubbing people up the wrong way.

WEDNESDAY Oh and don’t tell me I lack a social conscience, by the way. I’ve just designed a £64m children’s discovery centre in Hampshire.

It has a 3D poetry cave, a sensory maze, an artificial snowdome, a comics library made of laminated comics, an insect-free indoor woodland kids can explore in special tree-climbing harnesses, a shallow lake full of cartoon fish and a pirates’ den with chilled drinks dispensers and edible dubloons. The scheme has been made vandal-proof by being firmly located in a family garden protected by electric razor wire and armed Russian guards, because childhood is precious.

THURSDAY Have to come up with imaginative new uses for an old Sure Start centre in Manchester. It’s in a very undesirable area, I must say. To be honest I can’t really see any residential conversion working. Who on earth would want to live here?

The centre closed last year. Nobody’s fault, is it? But as usual everyone’s pointing the finger. The council blames the government for cutting its funding. The government blames the people of Manchester who, when the sun was shining, did not fix the roof but instead bought huge television sets with hard-working bankers’ money, got up in the afternoon and padded out to the tobacconist’s in their pyjamas.

I’m not sure if anyone’s asked local people whom they blame. Well, I’m pretty sure nobody’s done a vox pop and dropped the word ‘whom’ in.

I’m struggling. The boarded-up centre’s at the edge of a park, a quiet spot. Ideally this would be some sort of brilliant centre for the improvement of childcare, early education and health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development. Or, wait. What about a futuristic bookmaker’s filled with fixed-odds betting terminals? Could put some sort of sail thing on the roof. Or like really really big pebbles around the front entrance. Or some thought-provoking ‘planting’. People love all that.

FRIDAY We’re all used now to the last-minute call. ‘Sorry, we’ll have to stop construction of your starter home estate because we’ve found rare newts…’ No matter how rational you try to be - bomb the bastards out of their slimy holes and squash them - wildlife always wins. Still, even I could understand the latest fuss. It’s not every day you discover a ‘glowing population of newts’.

Imagine my disgust on learning that this was just a typo. They are a GROWING population of newts. WELL OF


SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist thoughtball. Material Pluralism 1, Plural Materialism 1. Material Pluralism wins on aggregate - it was used as a daring and confrontational cladding for an animal hospice in Stroud. Plural Materialism is now relegated to the comments section of a strident piece in Free Association Review on ‘The Self-Determination of Concrete’.

SUNDAY Adjust massing in the recliner.

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