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Ian Martin. ‘Remaining true to urban principles’ is no match for our ‘Mend A City’ initiative

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Ian Martin explains the fate of Tamworth

Monday. Rock Steady Eddie the fixer rings. ‘Seen this? Councils to be offered cash for approving new homes. I TOLD you the government was old-school. Now let’s get out there and start bribing planners again…’

Tuesday . I heart Kazakhstan. Why? Because, fools, I have been asked by the country’s president to design a big roof in the shape of a jellyfish. Nobody knows yet what will be under the roof or even where it will be located, exactly. What we can be certain of, though, is that it will be watertight and morally defensible. There are worse dictators, more repressive regimes. It’s architecture. I’m not selling cluster bombs. I urge my simpering liberal friends to take a less blinkered view, unless they want to be seriously fucked over by the Kazakh secret police.

Wednesday . Another first for Tamworth. It has become the first European centre of world-class excellence to be awarded funds under the EU’s ‘Mend A City’ pump-priming regeneration cash umbrella. While local authority accountants workout what level of dryness is likely to accrue under the regeneration cash umbrella, Tamworth’s team of widely respected and hugely remunerated brand managers are already constructing a narrative. Securing this grant of £20,000 is the first vital step in a journey on a path towards a destination. And that destination is a £5 billion programme of urban reconciliation, closure and healing. Tamworth did not become a European centre of world-class excellence simply by telling itself over and over again that that’s what it is. No, this self-awarded accolade was earned the hard way, by acknowledging Tamworth’s self-admired determination to provide a haven for creative and digital businesses. Under the Mend A City scheme, more than 200 acres of land will be transformed over the next decade: first into hectares, then into a creative, digital ‘hubopolis’. Features include:-

  • high-specification podular office environments with WiFi, ionised air and a hint of citrus;-
  • special ‘comfo-relaxury’ apartments where creative/digital industry workers can relax in the comfort of their own luxury homes;-
  • a digital park including a unique Photoshopped ornamental lake with analogue ducks;-
  • a dedicated local transport system that will go round and round, making a powerful circular argument for local transport;-
  • a sustainable car park, reducing the Mend A City scheme’s ‘carbon blanket’ by encouraging motorists to leave their vehicles stationary and switched off for hours at a time; and-
  • an exciting public realm - details to be confirmed - offering witty updates about itself via Twitter.

A fundamental core centrality(© Branding Management Team) will be the creation of a ‘social matrix’ or ‘coalition’.It is vitally important that in seeking to attract high-calibre creative and digital residents the scheme also helps to guide the hopes, aspirations etc of existing local residents, who may have more old-fashioned views and clothes. This coalition will be achieved via a sociological capillary process. Original residents will have the opportunity to absorb aspiration, for example, at one of the planned Vietnamese brasseries. There will also be ‘tangible opportunities for local people’ as they will literally be able to touch things such as public art and street furniture. Mend A City will reflect Tamworth’s rigorous aesthetic control system. Potential stakeholders seeking to privatise public space will have to answer two tough questions.

1. Is the development ‘architectural’ enough?

2. Yes but IS it though, really? As long as these two criteria are met, it’s a deal.

Thursday . The RIPBA has published the results of its annual Young Persons Survey. It looks encouraging. When asked ‘Bearing in mind that you are being asked this question on behalf of architects, what would you like to be when you grow up?’ nearly two-thirds said ‘architect’. Oh, wait. Half of them said ‘I want to be the architect Ariadne in the movie Inception’. Ah, and the other half wanted to ‘do’ the architect Ariadne. Still, it’s a start.

Friday . Sketch out my new generation nuclear power station prototype. Chernobyl is in the past, and future ones will be much safer for private investors.

Saturday . Invent a new architectural style: ‘limpid austerity’.

Sunday . In the recliner, where I am engaged by my subconscious to work up some dream architecture from Stage A (inception)to Stage D (astral planning permission).


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