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Ian Martin: Make Arcadia Great Again

Ian Martin
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Garden Villages. Idyllic little settlements for the sort of discerning Brexit householder who values decency, privacy and a baffling murder every week

MONDAY Sketch out some conceptuals for 2017. Try to be as positive as possible. ‘Bleak but vague’ is the best I can do.

TUESDAY Lunch with architecture critic Darcy Farquear’say and his skittering neuropolitan dachshund Bauhau.

They’re going through a heavy Streamline Moderne phase at the moment. All soft edges, aerodynamically swept back. Darcy looks like a Bee Gee circa 1979, Bauhau is inside some smartcarbonate nautical swoosh. From the back he looks like an ocean liner. Head on, his terrified face suggests he’s about to hit an iceberg.

Darcy’s working on a big Creative on Sunday piece about What Will Happen In 2017, looking beyond the craze for ‘Trumpdicular’ power towers to a post-Trumpdicular backlash. He pops a little baseball cap on Bauhau. It says MAKE ARCADIA GREAT AGAIN. Touching, in a way, how Darcy’s always convinced that irony will triumph over philistinism. I keep telling him that laughing at the London skyline, for instance, doesn’t actually change it. He insists it does, ‘in our minds, surely the most important place on earth…’

In that case, I tell him he should put ‘interior landscaping’ on his 2017 Trends List. He looks up to see if I’m joking – I am – but scribbles it down anyway.

WEDNESDAY Wish I’d never got involved in this bloody Garden Villages thing. It was a throwaway remark in a brainstorm. Number 10 and the housing spads were desperate for an initiative with ‘targets’. Something that allowed developer party donors to build their Lidl House on the Prairie estates with all the usual incentives and back-handers.

All I’d said, jokingly, was that everyone likes gardens, everyone likes villages – bosh, Garden Villages. Sounds like an idyllic little settlement for the sort of discerning Brexit householder who values decency, privacy and a baffling murder every week. I knew something was up. Nobody laughed. They looked very thoughtful, though.

Now my little joke is a HOUSING POLICY. All over the country, soft-focus communities will be held in the gravitational orbit of artificial duckponds and pretend pubs. Shamelessly, these garden villages have also been named by combining two random things that mortgage-payers like: Marple Biscuits, Labrador Statins, Waitrose Carvalet, Bluepassportmeirion, Coldplay Farage, Clarkson Royalbaby, Maryberry St Michael, etc.

All I got out of it was a brainstorm buy-out fee. Meanwhile, everyone else involved has bagged a New Year’s Honour. Bastards.

THURSDAY What comes after wooden skyscrapers? This nonsense will hit peak fashionability around March, and I need to start pretending soon that I’m designing in some next-level crazy structural material.

The trick is to bag one of those ubiquitous ‘selective amnesia’ headlines – Forget Wooden Skyscrapers, Here Comes High-Rise Laminated Cardboard. Not that, obviously, that’s too 2007. Time for a brainstorm. I plug myself into the Internet of Thinks and by teatime I’ve got an impressive materials palette.

Compacted human bones (‘loved ones reaching for the stars’?). Peat, with usual structural caveats. Scrapped cars. Superdense polystyrene. Ice (quite location-specific). Orchestrated sand (details to follow).

Hard Air™ would be perfect but alas this innovative, ultra-cheap material invented by me and my nanofuturologist mate Beansy is still trapped in a copyright tangle. Not that it matters much. The thing is to appear to do something first. You don’t actually have to do it, you just have to say you’re doing it. Make a splash in the ‘alternative media’.

After some thought, I decide I’m going to ‘do’ a skyscraper in RECYCLED WEAPONS OF WAR. Guns, spent munitions, decommissioned tanks and aircraft, bombs, yeah brilliant. That’ll look fantastic when I get my interns to knock out a rendering in the style of an apocalyptic comic book. Also, I’ll say it’s going to be affordable housing. And that I’m entering it for the Turner Prize. Might get some folk singers and the Archbishop of Canterbury involved.

Cor, I’m feeling humbled and honoured already.

FRIDAY To the Gherkin and Firkin, where we’re celebrating my fixer Rock Steady Eddie’s Tax Freedom Day.

For everyone else this falls in June. But Eddie uses an expensive accountant who has streamlined his affairs by a) being Eddie’s cousin, b) being utterly unscrupulous and c) working for Revenue and Customs.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist artisanal construction playoffs. 2-D system baking 1, 3-D house knitting 1.

SUNDAY Time for a new recliner. I now fancy one made from RECYCLED WEAPONS OF WAR.

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