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Ian Martin: Commedia dell’architettura

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin goes on a circular voyage of discovery

MONDAY I often think that we Templars (and Templasses!) of Epic Space have much in common with stand-up comedians. Not that there’s anything ‘funny’ about the built environment, as a rule. But take architects – please! Ha ha, CLASSIC.

Seriously, architects are constantly required to produce ‘stand-up material’. Ask any structural engineer, or building insurer – whichever’s the funnier punchline. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week.

TUESDAY Another thing stand-up comedians and pop-up alchemists have in common is the heckling, isn’t it ladies and gentlemen?

Whether it’s the shouted obscenity of the pissed audience member ‘putting off’ the comedian. Or the archery of envious puffed-up critics, loosed upon the eminent auteur. Publications such as the Creative on Sunday or Builty Pleasures these days are simply tawdry digital hubs of aggregated snark.

My proposed ‘gyro-travelatory’ pedestrian carriageway would create an elegant carousel of London’s thinnest, richest people around the Battersea site perimeter

Only last week Sloane Bagshawe and her smart-casual miniature assistance donkey ‘Dennis’ launched a vicious attack on me in the regular feature Builty Pleasures – Turd In The Landscape. Apparently my latest urban transport scheme – a brilliant response to the inevitable disappearance of poor, socially awkward Battersea Power Station – ‘would be honk hee-honk laughable were it not so meh-heh-heh tragic’.

Insufferable. My proposed £63 million ‘gyro-travelatory’ pedestrian carriageway, a circular moving pavement, would create an elegant carousel of London’s thinnest, richest people around the Battersea site perimeter. Imagine them, serene as gilded horses as they glide past, recalling those glamorous days of Sunday Night At The London Palladium.

But according to ‘Dennis’/La Bagshawe ‘it is now de hee de-heur rigeur for dilettante narcissists to make everything hee-hee circular, meh-ing a self-validating argu-honk that building users, or cloppidy-clop pedestrians, may ee-haw “go on a journey” only to honk hee-honk end up where they began, yet somehow honk “wiser”. Our view? This Battersea Travousel is a big bag of hee-haw honk hee-bollocks…’

In a just world this donkey ‘critic’ would be trudging back and forth all his wretched life over the shingles at Poulton-le-Fylde in a battered straw hat, carrying glum, fat children. And then be slaughtered for dog food. His ‘enabler’ would be following her own ‘circular journey’ back to pharmaceutical PR, where the vindictive little shitbag belongs.

Ha ha, only joking of course. I’m not bitter, ladies and gentlemen. It’s just that my material is fashionably dark.

WEDNESDAY What do you get when you cross an urbanist with an onanist? You tell ME, ladies and gentlemen. You tell ME.

THURSDAY You’re a lovely audience, ladies and gentlemen, you really are. Much more sophisticated than the human flotsam one encounters at residents’ meetings, or in those unsavoury demonstrations outside the town hall.

Comedians and plasmic auteurs both suffer from ‘local crowds’ don’t they? You can get a laugh, or acclaim, in one part of the country and then ‘bomb’, or be professionally traduced, in another.

I’m currently touring a non-specific maximum-permeability community hub. It’s not ‘for’ anywhere in particular. There are communities all over the place. Every one of them will require a maximum-permeability community hub sooner or later. Especially once they hear that some other community’s got one.

Liverpool tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

FRIDAY Famously, everyone in Merseyside is a comedian and an architect. Perhaps it was unwise to trial my ideas here.

I mean, obviously the maximum-permeability community hub is circular (what isn’t, ladies and gentlemen?) But the nickname is the crucial element, as it will define the permeable spaces in the minds of users.

‘The In And Out’ sounded chirpy and optimistic. Quite ‘Scousey’ I thought. It assures the user they needn’t spend much time in the company of whatever’s inside the hub. Remember, if sourced locally, hub contents can be quite poor. Unfortunately ‘In And Out’ recalls those traumatic far-off days of the EU referendum. I’ll leave that one in the drawer for a future project. Perhaps an outsourced circular NHS minor operations centre.

‘The Permy’, then, for my maximum-permeability community hub. Couldn’t BE more Liverpudlian, surely. Friendly, post-cultural. You can hear it in a wide range of fluted Scouse dialects. Alas, no. The local nickname seems destined to be The Fucking Doughnut.

SATURDAY Much better crowd in Richmond-upon-Thames, where they nickname my super-permeable community hub The Fatuous Circle.

SUNDAY Questions going round and round my head, in a circular promenade. Chiefly: in geo-engineering terms, how easy would it be to liberate Merseyside?

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