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Ian Martin: Local authority v global sovereignty

Ian Martin
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Once again my selfless quest to bring enlightenment and beauty to ordinary people is thwarted by municipal potatoheads

MONDAY I am proud to support the Campaign for Applaudable Homes. For too long we alchemists of space and light and mystery have been shackled to the drab notion of ‘affordable homes’. Such paucity of imagination. Let us now aspire to applaudable homes, and celebrate our soaring talent. 

TUESDAY I’ve been asked by a panicky Number 10 to bang out a quick ‘artist’s impression’ of Global Britain. Summary: whitened cliffs, a plump countryside at ease with venture capitalism and fracking, world class pancake stacks of cenotaph apartments, unsmiling citizens digging for victory, fair skies for all and an armada of Amazon drones showing Europe what a dynamic tax haven looks like. 

WEDNESDAY Once again my selfless quest to bring enlightenment and beauty to ordinary people is thwarted by municipal potatoheads.

I had designed an innovative 43-storey landmark – a tight yet billowing clump of quality housing, overglazed with an enigmatic artisanal sheen, ready to invigorate a suitably grateful west London site. Indeed, it looked so intriguing I’d pre-nicknamed it The Guessbag.

From a distance it would look like a very complicated giant deep-fat fryer, prompting the casual viewer to think: ‘Wow, I wonder what’s cooking in THAT. Perhaps a sizzling experiment in luxury city living-plus. Imagine. Creatives on the edge, wearing their little hats indoors, but with a CONCIERGE? Boy-oy-oing!’ 

Nah, I honestly couldn’t see myself in that. This impossibly cool dwelling is best left to celebrities and high-calibre urbaneurs

Close up it would resemble that metal skirt Kylie Minogue wore in her famous video, prompting the casual viewer to think: ‘Nah, I honestly couldn’t see myself in that. This impossibly cool dwelling is best left to celebrities and high-calibre urbaneurs. Still, it’s definitely inspired me to try harder to be famous.’

So of COURSE those numbskulls at ‘Howslow’ Council turned down the planning application, on the preposterous grounds that it would ‘cause lasting and horrific harm to a wide spectrum of vulnerable heritage nodes in the Chiswick area’.

You disingenuous, posturing local authority spigots. Have you SEEN the proposed location of The Guessbag? It’s right next to a massive, noisy roundabout, which seems perfectly capable of looking after itself. The Guessbag would also be close to a busy flyover, which I’d say sets up quite an aggressive ‘context’ wouldn’t you? Perhaps you’ve heard of it – Chiswick Flyover? 

Those historic cottagey almshouses, Georgian slavetraders’ mansions etc of which you speak. They’ve survived for centuries but, what – they’re about to wilt and die now under the basilisk gaze of a cluster of new residential towers? God Almighty, these people. 

THURSDAY I’ve counter-attacked with a planning appeal, on the entirely reasonable grounds that a) the council is demonstrably cretinous and b) this is my fifth attempt to create something on that site, so it’s only fair I get to do it this time.

Way back in 1999 I proposed an office tower, The Millennium Berg, which was called in by secretary of state John Prescott and then unforgivably sent back to the clients with his childish scribbles all over it – ‘What the fuck is this? Looks like bloody Barnsley Dole Office’ – and quietly withdrawn. In 2003 I had another go with a different client, a more modest commercial hub called The Bizneez, shaped like a hive but with rows of glowing pulses going round and round, to blazon the power of the information superhighway. Construction work started but it was only a couple of metres off the ground before the market for adorably clumsy nicknames collapsed.

There was a further attempt in 2011 with The Placenta, a ‘gateway experience’ featuring a 4,000m2 LED-sprinkled meniscus over whatever ‘agency stakeholders’ thought best, with a cash donation. Still no luck. My last fling was two years ago – The Squid. Part building, part sculpture, part live-work studio pods, part Nando’s, part ‘airshare’ investment plan, part opportunity for lateral thinking. The client had the planning application returned with ‘partly taken seriously’ stamped over it.

Wait a minute. The Guessbag refusal’s signed by ‘Marianne de Villeneuve’. Oh really? 

FRIDAY My demand for a government intervention to ‘take back development control’ has been successful. Delighted the council has been overruled and that my planning paperwork is now being supervised by someone with more Globally British credentials. 

SATURDAY Five-a-sightgeist theoretical eyeball. Views of St Paul’s 1, Consensus of the Money-Changers 3. 

SUNDAY Propose a dormitory settlement which I’m glad to say is fully supported by the recliner.

Illustration by Hanna Melin

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