Ian Martin’s Olympic Vision wins a prize
Monday. The Mayor and Corporation of Preston are looking for a civic landmark to replace their doomed Surrealist Bus Station.
Hard to believe it’s going to be demolished. Its celebrated concrete form - crouching naked man with sprouting egg head - has been a notable presence on the North West landscape for years. And there was such a fierce campaign to protect it, by the absurdist heritage group DaDaDaDa. Who can forget the protest march from Manchester to Preston last November, led by members of the DaDaDaDa executive in 19th century diving suits? It’s still going on, they haven’t arrived yet.
Not even architectural merit could persuade our ruthless and amnesiac minister for buildings Dorothy Bungham to save it for the nation. She’s impervious to the famous ‘three arriving at once’ effect of the mirrored access ramp. And the playful signage (‘This Is Not The Ladies WC’). And the trompe l’oeil entrance that has generated amusement and minor injuries for decades. No, it’s simply too ‘old-fashioned’ now, and confusing.
Preston needs to fill the hole with something. It has literally no other building of note. But the brief is candid: ‘something cheap and generic, please’. Looks like I’ll be dusting off my Museum of Plagiarism again.
Tuesday . I wish people would stop moaning about my new BBC headquarters. Yes, the ‘singing piazza’ with waterproof speakers and exotic dancing shrubs cost £6m. But I saved a FORTUNE by reducing accommodation for investigative journalists - down to a single cubicle for the teenage intern who monitors Twitter.
Wednesday. Meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Taskforce, chaired by the irrepressible minister for fun and games, Suzi Towel. As usual, we’re expected to shout ‘yay!’ and do a Mexican Wave round the table every time the word ‘Olympics’ is mentioned.
Some good news for a change. Yes, there are ‘budgetary and infrastructural issues’ on the horizon but, happily, these can be ignored today because we have won an international PRIZE. Our Olympic Vision has been voted this month’s ‘most accessible and inclusive reality delivered via sport-related architectural renderings’ by Imagineering Today magazine.
It’s very gratifying. We’ve invested an awful lot of time and money in creating our notional London of 2012 with its wide pathways, smooth surfaces, gentle gradients and smoke-free atmosphere. To say nothing of the happy and relaxed people shown populating it. The judges specifically commended our ‘calibrated ethnic mix, and the clever use of wheelchairs… the Olympic Rebadging Taskforce have turned traditional design principles on their heads, one by one. By taking a holistic and systematically upside-down view of people’s needs, they are leading from the front and thinking with their feet.’
Suzi says we should all feel very proud of ourselves and leads us in a round of self-applause.
And there’s even more good news on the idealised environment front. A sculpture we commissioned to protect overseas visitors from having to see ecologically unsettling ‘traffic’ has now been granted planning permission. Fanny Cloud, designed by Clerk & Wellponce, is a grove of titanium ‘elevated vaginas’ that move in the breeze, mimicking actual trees but with a more sophisticated swaying effect.
Suzi is flushed with pride. ‘Oh yes, the carpers may carpe diem all they like,’ she says. ‘But this is one week when I think we can agree Cynicism has been totally squished by Olympicism!’ There’s an awkward moment. She didn’t actually say ‘Olympics’. Are we supposed to do a Mexican Wave for ‘Olympicism’…ah, yes we are. Yay!
Thursday. Dilemma. Should I go to TIPPL 2010, the global property expo, next month? There’s a very persuasive ‘opinion’ piece here written by the managing director of the company that organises it, saying it’ll be really useful. Though he does warn me I’ll have to ‘work harder’ to justify the cost.
Friday. Rock Steady Eddie the fixer rings, on a patchy line. ‘Forget TIPPL. Too expensive. Full of wankers. Better off spending our money on Russian Brides. Hello? Hello?’ Gone. What on earth does he mean?
Saturday . Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Randomised Curatorial Relativism 1, Frock Ascendancy 2.
Sunday . In the recliner, reading about Moscow’s dynamic new wave of entrepreneurialism. Apparently the system’s so corrupt there that…oh, Russian BRIBES, that’s what Rock Steady Eddie was talking about. Hm. A TIPPL delegate fee buys you planning permission for a modest office block, or about one-tenth of an icon…