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A period of transition

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin is labelled a trans-genrephobe

MONDAY It is not for me to say that my luxury supertall tower in Manhattan is the missing link between Classical Fusion, Tex-Mexpressionism, Gaudí-Dali Hypergothic and contemporary architecture.

Or that if Vitruvius were brought back to life via some disturbing act of voodoo and then furnished with ‘computer numerically controlled technology’ and a decent Wifi connection, this is exactly the sort of building he’d create.

Au contraire, it is for other people to say. What’s stopping them? Bitterness and envy, I suppose.

TUESDAY God Almighty, the design statements you have to confect now. In the last week alone I’ve been required to…

  • ‘describe the noise your building would make if it had to be one instrument in a symphony orchestra (NB excluding piano!) bearing in mind the audience is blind’
  • ‘imagine a conversation taking place in your building between two characters from contemporary fiction. What are they saying about the air they breathe, and who’s the script editor?’
  • ‘how would your building taste? Select as many as required. Salty? Umamish? Citrusy? Naughty but crunchy? Gutsy? 5:2 on one of the good days? Country childhood? Smoked? Slow? Muddled, in a positive way?’

I’m an auteur, damn it. This bullshit means I have less time for billowing around, thinking about big pictures, exercising my right to fail and drinking green chartreuse.

WEDNESDAY Perfect. My mate Beansy the nanofuturologist has set up an algorithmic quantiser for design statements.

Basically, it searches the internet gathering clues about the person who wrote the question. It then analyses their mood and constructs an answer that matches it. The results are a bit depressing. According to the quantiser, building clients are fearful and unimaginative. Never mind. Things will look up soon, I’m sure.

THURSDAY For some time now I’ve tried to stay publicly neutral on the issue of trans-genred architecture.

My position is not one of equivocation. It’s not that I can see merit on both sides of the argument, or that I wish to inhabit an artistic environment where all are welcome and where differences of opinion may be discussed in a civil fashion as we move into a progressive, inclusive future.

No. I kept out of it because I was terrified of being labelled ‘trans-genrephobic’. In these febrile times that could hurt me financially. One unguarded comment on Twitter and suddenly you’re on a blacklist and that nice Museum of Humankindness gig in Helsinki has mysteriously evaporated and they’ve given it instead to some bastard who looks like the young Robbie Coltrane in a wig and a frock. You have to be circumspect these days. A harmless throwaway remark can so easily be construed as hurtful by professional umbragetakers.

But a fat lot of good it did, keeping out of the debate. I’ve now been officially called a TED, or ‘trans exclusionary dickhead’, by trans-genre activists. It’s insane. All I said was that I could understand why modernists might object to seeing in their canon a ‘trans-modernist’ building with its heavily detailed cock and balls out. A building which has simply ‘identified’ as modernist, which has adopted certain generic aspects of modernism – lots of white paint, say, or repetitive windows – and has a vaguely modernist name such as Block 34, but retains the full tackle of po-po-mo. Or, even worse, faux po-po-mo.

My solidarity with radical modernists, especially those ‘second wavers’ who battled so bravely against the patriarchitecturey, is unwavering. They know what it’s like for a Brutalist shopping centre to exist for decades in a hostile world. They fought hard and long for modernism to be given equal cultural weight. And in the end I agree with them. You can’t just ‘become’ modernist and then start shouting the odds about what it means to be a ‘modern’.

Yet that’s apparently enough for me to stand accused of enabling ‘architectural genocide’. God, these sanctimonious muppets. I don’t mind people hating me for my inferred trans-genrephobia. It’s the pity I can’t bear.

FRIDAY Busy day. Design a village in the sky, an underground hamlet and a floating sea-parish.

Of course it’s ludicrous. But don’t blame me or my clients. Blame soaring land prices and the demand for popular online content.

SATURDAY Note with irony that radical modernist Hunstanton Parkway station has been ‘modernised’ by being no-platformed.

SUNDAY Lateral emphasis in the recliner.

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