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Ian Martin: Architecturalised Crime

Ian Martin
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Unspecified laundry-design services for cash lead to an expulsion from the Auteurs Registration Board

MONDAY Design a safe space for an ungendered cat in the style of a Post-Modern pumping station because apparently that’s the sort of thing I do now. 

TUESDAY Once again I am at odds with those bumptious planks at the Auteurs Registration Board. How they revel in finding fault with hard-working auteurs going about their lawful auteurial business. This time they’re threatening to strike me off for participating in ‘architecturalised crime’. Insufferable. OK yes, the police found, during a flat-footed raid on my atelier: a builder’s dumpy bag containing around £375,000 in used banknotes, several falsified planning documents, two mysterious passports, 15 SIM cards and other items. Couple of shooters, whatever. 

I have perfectly innocent explanations for all of this. Annual self-employed bonus, prank, never seen them before, making ironic jewellery on the theme of ‘Loneliness in the Communications Age’, rehearsing for online community panto (Dick Turpin). 

Now these busybodies want to know if there’s anything I’d like to add to my ‘defence’. Well I want it on record that I resent the use of those sarcastic quote tongs, for a start. And in summarising my defence, I would say this: let he (or she!) who is without sin cast the first stone. Also, ‘ornament’ is an architecturalised crime, NOT ‘unspecified laundry-design services for cash on an informal basis’. Furthermore, intellectual property is theft, although wait, on second thoughts I might save that for the plagiarism trial next month.

WEDNESDAY Expelled without further ado from chartered auteur community. It’s a disgrace. I shall appeal. Meanwhile there’s nothing to stop me trading as a ‘registered epic spatialist’ so shove that up your hoity-toity funnel of uniqueness you mewling bastards.

THURSDAY Exciting times. My new trading entity Epic Space Logistics has formed a commercial alliance with partners in China and the US. This represents yet another new dawn in the 24-hour global world of full-spectrum ideas delivery. ESL, with Blingnang-based finance engineers Space Ghost and celebrated New York ulterior specialists Gash, will offer a bespoke ‘next-generation design service’ to a select portfolio of clients. Working across all cognate disciplines and around resonant analogues, this new design megagroup will be ‘the most culturally impactful trio since Nirvana’ according to an uncredited but powerful quote in our draft press release. Next-generation design, by the way, is going to revolutionise the civic commissioning process. ‘Pay now, get a landmark building in 30 years’ time’ may sound familiar but believe me it’s never been so utterly transparent.

FRIDAY I’ve been approached, with all due reverence, by an education client. The Fully Validated Architectoral College of the Internet. My task is to value-engineer John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture down to a more manageable level for today’s distracted student. Fair enough. Higher education’s too expensive, and life too short, to waste on unnecessary lamps. I briefly consider going the extra mile and condensing them into emojis, but that’s too fiddly. How do you convey the notion of ‘Sacrifice’ – the dedication of architectural craft to God, as proof of humanity’s love and obedience? The ‘wrapped gift’ emoji doesn’t quite do it. ‘Lamb’ plus ‘dagger’ maybe? Hmm. ‘Sack’ of money plus musical ‘riff’ plus symbol for ‘ice’? Ridiculous. Much better to take Sacrifice at its word and quietly dump it. 

Anyway, Obedience appears as a lamp in its own right – ‘no originality for the sake of it’. Ruskin, the archetypal nativist miseryguts, wanted to take back control of English architecture by expunging everything that wasn’t Ruskin-approved Stout-Hearted Gothic. But let’s face it, the world has definitely moved on since the mid-19th Century, oh God. Obedience binned.

Truth’s a very subjective notion these days, along with Beauty. And who could forget Memory? Only joking, everybody’s forgotten in advance. Also good luck with Life, mate, I think you’ll find that masons and stonecarvers have made way for the Worshipful Company of Algorithms. 

Power it is then. Only the Power of architecture remains. In Semester Two I’ll be asking, in a sinister and disingenuous way, whose Power it really is. 

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist blah football. No-Nonsense Brexitecture 2, Socialised Architegrity (Instagram only) 6.7m. Socialised Architegrity goes through on aggregated Google to meet Lego Being Unboxed in the semi-finisheds. 

SUNDAY Deep, dark reflection in the recliner. Where is our society sleepwalking to? And how might we create people-friendly sleepwalkable neighbourhoods?

Epic Space, an anthology of Ian Martin’s columns for the AJ, is published by Unbound

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