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Ian Martin: The Museum of Non-Fake History

Ian Martin
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I call the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects and press 5 for ethical guidance

MONDAY Today, using only my imagination, I have:

  • transformed a neglected area of parkland into an admirable ‘stacked hamlet’ of luxury student podlets;
  • regenerated a dilapidated shopping centre with a pop-up ‘authenticity market’; and 
  • rescued a blighted residential area by subtracting its negative-value inhabitants. 

Sometimes the philanthropic power of epic space can be truly humbling. 

TUESDAY OK, might have to tread carefully here. The Ku Klux Klan is looking for a ‘horizontal brand shift thru built-environmentally forging a tough new architectural positivity for this most American of all historic societies’.

I mean, the advert’s in The Telegraph so they’re obviously looking for an international designer. I imagine a Brit would be easier to jettison quietly if for any reason the creation of buildings dedicated to white supremacy proved problematic.

I call the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects and press 5 for ethical guidance. Janine asks me if KKK contract terms would be compliant with the Plan of Work to Stage 4. Yes, everything seems to be in order. Will there be anything at all explicitly racist or offensive in any way about the built projects? Well, I say. The client is the Ku Klux Klan, so … We both chuckle, knowingly. Can I put you on hold while I check with my supervisor? Eleven minutes of Jefferson Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now on a loop.

Janine returns to flag up a possible snag. ‘I’m afraid the Institute couldn’t offer full ethical indemnity cover unless you were also designing something for the other side?’ she says. ‘For balance,’ she explains.

WEDNESDAY Call Antifa International and offer to bang out, pro bono, a landmark building. What sort of building, asks Tom, head of corporate affairs, suspiciously. I don’t mind, I say, anything you like. A merch store? Those masks are way cool, dude. Damn, I curse myself for over-reaching. 

Buildings get bombed, says Tom with immaculate logic but also with an unpleasant, snippy tone. I feel honesty as a last resort is the best policy and explain that if I design an anti-fascist building I’ll be ethically clear to do the KKK gig. God, people can be so rude. I honestly don’t see how we’re going to (literally) build a better world if we can’t be polite to one another. They weren’t called ‘civil’ rights for nothing.

THURSDAY Think I may have landed the KKK job, fingers crossed. I’ll just tell the ethics people I’m doing a homeless shelter or something. 

At the core of my ‘3K Reboot’ are three high-profile, heavily guarded projects:  

  • Fortress America. A concrete megabunker hq and visitor centre designed in an ‘alt-Reich neo-Classical XXL’ style. A beautiful landscaped minefield ‘on many sides’. Perimeter patrolled with armed dogs and militarised drones. Inside: the very human face of 3K, with family picnic areas, a magical Night-Time Tiki-Torch Trail and an amphitheatre for TED-style lectures and animal sacrifice.
  • The Museum of Non-Fake History. A glass and steel façade expresses the transparency of the human chronicle within. A pure, truthful post-Modern atrium enfolds a replica Wild West railroad station with a wide gauge track to accommodate modified golf carts. Visitors glide slowly through a series of immersive environments telling the Real Story of White America, putting genocide and slavery into proper perspective and presenting a powerful narrative of a proud people’s struggle against resistance and criticism. 
  • The Confederate Statue Park. Basically, redefine Virginia as a national park, extend the statuary as necessary, remove loiterers.  

FRIDAY 3K very pleased with my outlines. They’ve decided to keep them and have amusingly offered a settlement of $50, some glass beads, a bottle of ‘firewater’ and an ‘ass-kicking’ if I ever bother them again. Obviously disappointed, though to be honest it’s better than the deal I’ve had to accept from certain cheating North Korean bastards.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist Royal Mail sell-off blow football. Postal Workers’ Pensions 0, Postal Voters’ Dividends 8. 

SUNDAY Suspend my conscience in the recliner. Sigh. Why does everything have to be so politicised now? It’s just SPACE, whether it’s a slum flat or one of those dully gleaming Battersea sex labs.

All space, in a sense, belongs to everyone, yeah? People should cut architecture some slack for simply trying to enclose it in an agreeable way.

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

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