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A 10-point plan for the North

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin proposes a spatial flux blanket and reverse-solar panels

MONDAY It is with a heavy heart that I rule myself out from standing as the next president of the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects.

I thank my thousands of supporters, and assure them that once these financial irregularities have been explained away I hope to restart my campaign to allow gentlemen architects to carry swords (and lady architects small revolvers) to rebuild respect for this most noble profession.

TUESDAY My mate Beansy the nanofuturologist and I have landed a nice gig from our mutual friend Skids, the chancellor of the exchequer.

He wants a ‘complete rebadge’ for the Northern Powerhouse, the area formerly known as the North. His departmental brief calls for a ‘thorough re-energisation, using science and neology to create a brandable magnet for global investment’.

Obviously, apart from our fee, the budget for re-energisation is approximately 0 euros, so this is definitely a challenge. But if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from the Lib Dems it’s that there’s no such thing as a ‘bad challenge’. The combination of my urban narrative skills and Beansy’s crazy biotech mind is powerful. We make Elon Musk look like a Scrabble hand.

WEDNESDAY After a long day of scientific boundary-pushing, neological engineering and drug-taking, Beansy and I have come up with a 10-point plan for the dynamic economic region we are now calling Powerhouse X: 

  • Ensure the macro-marketing message ‘Powerhouse X – As Big As Beijing, Cheaper Than Chechnya!’ appears everywhere, eg speech bubble above Angel of the North, dyed in huge letters across the bracken of Saddleworth Moor, tattooed on all Cumbrian children of military age.
  • Redefine constituent Northern cities as ‘urban synapses’ to stimulate more economic cross-signalling.
  • Repurpose any remaining Northern brick chimneys as ‘li-fi data transmitters’, harnessing lightwaves from LED beacons to broadcast round-the-clock news, traffic updates, humorous commercials promoting local businesses and hits from the 80s and 90s.
  • Propose an invisible Wiggly Ley-Line o’ Fun, aggregating places with odd names – Blubberhouses, Cockyard, Pity Me - into a ‘virtual tourism offer’.
  • Commission treetop walkways where visitors can engage with trees; and streetbottom pubways where visitors can engage with chips.
  • Rename everywhere by capitalising the final letter eg YorK, KendaL, HuddersfielD etc; group places by ‘destination capital’ then just sort of see what happens.
  • Drape the region with a spatial flux blanket and post it on the Internet of Things, to show the world how much monetisable space there really is, ie loads.
  • Announce mysterious new Blue Tick Zones for fast-tracking entrepreneurialism by pre-validating developers and elevating the status of validation.
  • Residential development restricted to high-density, publicly subsidised, luxury en-suite student accommodation, to encourage a new era of academic aspiration.
  • Primary energy nodes across the region to be locked into an innovative network of ‘reverse-solar panels’, soaking up electricity from the air and turning it into sunshine.

THURSDAY Skids loves Powerhouse X and has commissioned an accompanying musical from Sting.

FRIDAY My ‘remagining’ of Tamworth’s famous Futilist bus station is back on my desk after the latest public backlash.

It’s the dreary inevitability of it all I can’t bear. Have ‘the public’ nothing better to do than splutter their name on to an online petition every time I propose something clever for a listed building? Backlash after backlash. It’s a wonder ‘the public’ haven’t put their fucking back out, frankly.

I have gone out of my way to preserve the integrity of the building (architects Mivvi & Spangles 1969) which is acknowledged to be one of the finest examples of Futilism in Britain. Even though it can no longer function as a bus station, I am charged with producing something ‘dynamic and inviting but which respects its proud utilitarian heritage’.

No matter how closely I cleave to the original function – a new bakery called The Bun Station, say, or my plan to fill the retro dining area with carbon monoxide – ‘the public’ tell me in their composite, squeaky, outraged voice that it’s simply not good enough.

SATURDAY Spend the day in the Gherkin and Firkin with other malcontents from the world of epic space, darkly ‘remagining’ a public who are in our view now no longer fit for purpose. Call it cultural eugenics if you like, but my new master race can spell ‘architecture’ and they appreciate visual irony.

SUNDAY De-energisation in the recliner.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • You made me smile - I'm aiming for less gentlemen/swords/ladies/pistols in the future RIBA - Alan Jones candidate for RIBA president.

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