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Ian Martin: Darcy decamps

Ian Martin
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Darcy Farquear’say is miserable since the death of his constant companion, Bauhau the dachshund

MONDAY To a conference which is remarkably upbeat considering it’s called When You’re Dead. We’re here to contemplate buildings living on without us. Can we imagine future uses for them when their original purposes no longer fit? 

Let’s face it, a luminous jellyfish-shaped blob on that business park just off the M4 may be a perfectly acceptable ‘tech hub’ in these last days of the Carbon Age. But in 50 years’ time nobody will need whatever happens in there. Who knows, perhaps nobody needs it now. All those meaty men in cheap suits you hear on the train ‘just thinking aloud here that we should cc Dave on this asap and get the quote in by Tuesday’… they could be the last of their kind.

Perhaps that redundant tech hub will be converted to a synthetic protein farm. Or an air filtering plant. Perhaps it will merely provide emergency cover for nomad warriors keeping packs of dogs at bay with bows and arrows.

Makes you wonder though. Might it be easier to get planning permission for something contentious if you plausibly speculate that it will become something better in due course?

TUESDAY Submit an outline plan for a grisly five-star hotel. But with inherent scope to become a community enterprise – who knows, family care, maybe a hospice – at some point in the future. Thought: miniature hyperloop or whatever, for kids? 

WEDNESDAY Design a high-spec media operations centre that OK would mean demolishing some social housing but which could itself be converted into social housing in half a century. 

THURSDAY I’m finding this all quite moving. Suppose in the future global warming/capitalism threatens the very existence of trees? Way ahead of you. If planners wave through this low-density hipster village I’ve mooted on the ruins of a sports centre and athletics track that theoretically could be ruined for the creation of that same village, well. 

In the fullness of time all floors and roofs might be removed and the village could become an inspirational ‘tree refuge’. Imagine THAT, planners. A better future.

FRIDAY To London’s new restaurant sensation Fatberg for lunch with my old friend, the epic space correspondent Darcy Farquear’say. 

I’m worried about him, of course – he’s miserable and lost since the death of his constant companion, Bauhau the dachshund – but I’m also worried about what’s on our plates. This place looks suspiciously pop-uppish, its jolly slogan (Real Meals Congeal!) at odds with a grim interior. We’re sitting in what feels like an old council flat, illuminated entirely by candlelight. Darcy, surfacing briefly from his gloom, christens it ‘the Verité Lambent style’. 

My terrine has been assembled by squashing ingredients into a ball of natural bio-degeneration, sealing it all with fat and leaving it for a year or so, presumably as an experiment. Perhaps I’m being secretly watched right now by anthropology students curious to see if I’ll eat it. No thanks. We adjourn to a pub.

I say pub, it’s one of those dove-grey ‘Mild West’ affairs, all bare boards and beers named after 19th century diseases. Still, it’s a chance to catch up and expunge the memory of Fatberg, and Bauhau. Why doesn’t Darcy simply get another companion? ‘Because the whole point was, we both had a career. Bauhau produced a weekly column in the Creative on Sunday, I was his conduit. All the other architecturally literate animal companions are spoken for’.

Alas, he’s right. Every aesthetic cat, parrot, miniature pony and swarm of bees is perfectly happy where it is. Maybe he could train something up. A sparky little parametric Schnauzer, or … He shakes his head, sadly.

As we leave the Ampersand and Zeugma or whatever it’s called, Darcy squints in disgust at one of hundreds of building sites. Some new generic green luxury is being spread across the sky like crushed avocado. ‘I’m getting out. Packing it in. From now on architecture, the built environment, everything can go and fuck itself.’

Which, when you squint, is EXACTLY what it looks like already.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist architectural issues football. Social Equity (including For-Profit Community Dividend) 2, Self-Regulating Ethical Climate Change 5. 

SUNDAY Roused by a call from Darcy. He’s flouncing! Selling up and moving to Venice. But what will you DO there, I ask. ‘I shall … curate myself’, he sighs grandly. Bon voyage, proud queen of the Adriatic.

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

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