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Ian Martin: Reverse-Merxiting into Europe

Ian Martin
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Museums, art galleries and libraries all need a good seeing-to if Tamworth is to secure the title of UK Place of Top Culture 2021

MONDAY To a tiny leased workspace off Parliament Square smelling strongly of paint. This is the Department of Heathrow, recently set up under the auspices of the Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown, secretary of state for post-Brexit affairs, and his ubiquitous swarm of pet bees.

I’ve been asked to ‘think around’ the new runway. How might it be made more ‘retaily and fun’? How can the ‘Heathrow community’ be engaged? How safe would affordable housing be at either end of it?

While we casually explore these issues, the bees taxi into position on a smart model of the runway. One after another at regular intervals they hurtle along its length on their little legs, take off with a loud accelerating hum then bank steeply into a stately holding pattern around Upmother-Brown’s head. Adorable as ever. ‘Mm, of course nobody’s saying everything’s going to go THAT smoothly, mm?’ he purrs, smugly.

One by one the bees detach and start their descent. ‘Oh no, Lancelot! Calamity!’ he cries, as one of them misjudges the landing and tumbles awkwardly into the miniature housing.

After some gentle thinking and humming we propose a pop-up ‘funway’ (contents tbc) parallel to the runway to keep commercial backers happy, a wind farm to shut the environmentalists up, and a long-haul shuttle bus service to Gatwick, really just to rub Gatwick’s nose in it. The bees gaily buzz their approbation.

TUESDAY Ah well, RIP my Enchanted Forest Bridge. Now for something REALLY mad: my Circular, Over the River, River on a Bridge Bridge. Might see if Dame Judi Dench fancies it.

How can my  122-storey ‘combitower’ in Manchester be ‘too big’? What’s it going to ‘spoil’?

WEDNESDAY Some very irritating comments attached to the planning refusal for my 122-storey ‘combitower’ in Manchester.

I mean, come ON. How on earth can it be ‘too big’? What’s it going to ‘spoil’? I double check my submission in case I accidentally gave the location as Ravenna or Wastwater but no, it definitely says Manchester. Apparently a gigantic vertical city with its own regional cuisine, clean energy system and militarised security force is too intimidatingly urban for tender Mancunian souls.

My façade of dark grey anodised aluminium cladding projecting from clear and opaque glazing is ‘really, really boring’ is it, you insufferable bastards? I’d gone out of my way to make the whole thing contextual and inclusive, as reflective as possible. A great many Manchester commuters ARE the colour of dark grey anodised aluminium. Idiots.

WEDNESDAY Great news. The Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects has relaunched its international competition.

The winning building must ‘demonstrate visionary, innovative thinking and excellence of execution’, so I’ve entered my Riyadh Beheading Campus.

THURSDAY The bid to elevate Tamworth’s status to ‘world class – and beyond’ continues, in advance of its long-overdue reinstatement as England’s capital city.

The next step is to win the coveted title of UK Place of Top Culture 2021, and I am delighted to be overseeing some culturally toppening architectural competitions.

All museums, art galleries and libraries need a good seeing-to, let’s face it. Despite incremental improvements, eg plastic canopies, jazz concerts, random drug testing and occasional conversion into capsule apartments, these buildings were conceived in a world too dim to see the internet coming.

They must all be turned around 180° so that they face the future, not the past. Not physically of course, or you might as well start again, which OK could be an option if we’re looking for new creative solutions: public-private squares, pop-up greenery, little areas where people can drink coffee standing up.

As always, the crucial thing is to put design quality at the heart of the procurement process.

And so Mercia’s domination of the Seven Kingdoms in the 8th century will at last find its glorious resonance in the 21st. We will reverse-Merxit into Europe and with any luck destroy London and the South East in bloody battle, perhaps for convenience in an area of green belt scrubland, away from anything electrical.

FRIDAY What a wasted opportunity. The world’s largest ‘marine park’ is to be created in the Southern Ocean. Yet it will be filled not with visitor attractions and floating luxury hotels but with conserved fish, the most heedless and ungrateful of end users.

SATURDAY Five-a-polterzeitgeist football. Haunted Buy-To-Let 1, Repossessed Microhousing 2.

SUNDAY A Heathrow blue sky thinking day. I submit to the recliner’s holding pattern.

Ian martin musketeer crop

Ian martin musketeer crop

Source: Hanna Melin

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