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Ian Martin: Bauhau the architectural dachshund, an obituary

Ian Martin
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Architecture critic of the Creative on Sunday and theorist of epic space

Bauhau Boris de Pfeffel Farquear’say of Islington North – plain Bauhau, as he was known by tens of people in London’s epic space commentariat – has died at the age of 13.

A familiar figure in the bars and salons of Fitzrovia, Bauhau was for much of his life the close companion of architectural writer and flâneur Darcy Farquear’say. Together they formed a formidable cross-species partnership, triangulating the other’s intellect, instinct and ‘feelings’ to produce some of the most singular strands of cultural criticism since Kenneth Tynan and his theatrical owl, Snudge. 

Bauhau will perhaps be most fondly remembered for Woof Over Your Head, his long-running observational column in the Creative on Sunday. Although its byline featured a coquettish shot of the ‘author’, the tone of the pieces owed a great deal to the writing style of Farquear’say. ‘After a while, and certainly as the evening wears on, lines of authenticity inevitably become blurred,’ he once told Good Dog magazine. ‘I regard myself essentially as highly sophisticated human voice-to-text software, merely an emanuensis.’ Whenever Farquear’say’s byline appeared on an article, Bauhau would revert to the status of adoring muse. It was respectively complicated, yet simple. 

Subjects covered by ‘Bauhau as inferred by Darcy’ over the years included: the cruel exclusion of dogs, even when carried, from Britain’s most sacred and historic buildings; the sheer poverty of architectural detail 50cm above street level; built form as tangible expression of the plastic arts’ social contract; and the most satisfying structures to urinate on (blank side of No1 Poultry, Damien Hirst bike rack, Olympic Orbiting Whirlyfuck, anything by Viñoly).

Bauhau was born into a privileged life, at a boutique architectural dachshund farm in Surrey. The puppy had several distinguished siblings, notably Sallybowles The Bitch, fearsome charge of Hans Oberlich, the New York Times urbanism desk chief. Another of the litter, Wiener, was acquired by Icelandic feminist design collective CLAM. Two more, Chi-Chi and An-An, became the most famous dachshunds in China when they were bought as a joke by Blingnang architectural clone trillionaire Ji Guanhua, who would challenge clients to guess which was the original. Their whereabouts are now uncertain.

After a brief sojourn at architectural dachshund training school, where he learned how to wear a hat and look engaged, Bauhau became a worthy successor to Farquearsay’s previous muse, Sausage the Tibetan terrier. It wasn’t long before the pair were a semi-permanent feature in London’s premier architectural bar, The Firkin & Gherkin, a traditional pub aggregated from Victorian salvage, located halfway up London’s famous 30 St Mary Axe. 

Once their fragile tenure at the Creative on Sunday had been established, they became an unstoppable, matchy-matchy force. As Bauhau’s inferred disdain of unscamperable space helped Farquear’say and others initiate a vital if ultimately abandoned debate on the accessibility of our public realm, so Farquear’say’s growing confidence in addressing an audience via a quivering dachshund put them both squarely in the vanguard of the new ‘post-sense’ school of thought.

This touching relationship between one man and his neurotic dog was much more than forensic, of course. It was abstract. Danny Shove, Emeritus Professor of Spatial Awokeness at UEA, says that ‘ultimately, the theoretical symbiosis of their relationship intensifies the conversation architects are having with themselves. In the context of seismic social and economic change and the moral imperative to defend basic principles such as the public ownership of air and light, architectural introspection has never felt so delicious’. 

Mr Farquear’say has announced that he will be curating Squee, an exhibition of Bauhau’s outfits, later this year at the Bethnal Green Museum of Pethood. On show will be:

  • The Selfridge’s Chainmail Coat. Hundreds of miniature spun-aluminium discs on a background of Yves Klein blue felt.
  • The Glazed Sheath. Thousands of tiny translucent glass panels set behind fake mini-louvres.
  • The Lawrence of Caninia. A little kufi-hat-and-djellaba combo with four adorable little sandals.
  • The Absolute Boy, a bold pairing of a pleated burgundy tweed twosie and miniature retro ‘Madchester’ hat.
  • The Jazz Dog. Signature beret, sunglasses, black polo neck, freeform beatnik slacks, improvised floor-rolled decorative effects.
  • The PFI. Thin, flammable nylon pyjamas.
  • The Gimpster. A fetish-leather encasement with jaunty vintage hat.
  • The Going-Away Outfit. A black Issy Miyake duffel coat and lanyard reading ‘Please Look After This Dog’.

Mr Farquear’say said he hoped the exhibition would be ‘both poignant and closurey’.

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

 

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