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Enharmonic Typology

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A trip to McDonalds and a new app gives Ian Martin a cheeky idea

MONDAY Architecture and free speech – together at last. I’ve designed a modular pop-up ‘safe space’ for use on university campuses.

Tough, clipped-together panels of laminated cardboard create a generic refuge for sensitive students at risk of hearing arguments challenging their beliefs. Access to the safe space will be denied to toddlerphobes.

TUESDAY Blimey, talk about the Emperor’s New Cladding. A few weeks ago I mischievously cloaked an otherwise nondescript 12-storey research centre in what looked like a collapsing McDonald’s Happy Meal bag.

In my defence I was bored, and it was SO easy. The Collapsing Happy Meal Bag design app was £3.99 from iTunes. You download the gubbins and bingo, instant whackitecture. Ethically, this sort of post-ironic stunt is strictly for auteurs only. If you can get a building specced out by some ultra-cheap design collective working in a Wi-Fi-enabled Mumbai ‘shantatelier’ and then chuck a giant crumpled bag over it for a laugh, that’s brilliant. This frees you up for parties, conferences, ‘events’ etc.

But according to Sloane Bagshawe, the wistful and possibly medicated architecture correspondent for Builty Pleasures magazine, my research centre ‘is designed as a growing, self-aware organism with fronds of thought winnowing hither and yon – some perhaps virile and enduring, some perhaps ephemeral or perhaps just resting…’ I should download some more novelty designer wraps, perhaps.  

WEDNESDAY Boom. I now have a folder full of envelope-pushing research centres thanks to Deezignz, the app provider who’s probably running all this from a Droitwich bedroom. I’m offering Builty Pleasures an exclusive look at Deflated Football, Wrinkled Balloon, Compromised Pavlova and Dropped Pie. I bet they’ll each say something unique about the surprising, enigmatic world of research in due course.

THURSDAY Life can be so unfair. Do I really have to explain why social housing tenants in this new development overlooking the Thames will be denied access to the communal garden? Apparently I do. It’s in the small print of my contract as ‘vision polisher’. God, the plastic arts can be a little TOO plastic sometimes, in my polished view. The sinister croak of the developer’s voice on conference call is firm. ‘Tell those scumbags they’re getting nowhere near that fucking garden! And make sure you put a positive spin on it!’

‘Oh yeah? Put a positive spin on THIS, you smug billionaire shitbin!’ I yell triumphantly after he’s hung up.

FRIDAY I have today emailed prospective council-nominated tenants explaining why their huddled asses will not be parked on the granite seating of our elevated courtyard garden with its hornbeam and magnolia shrubararium, erotic dancing fountains and stone bubbler.

‘Dear Affordables: as you know, we have strived at Lumley Reach to create a genuine community of eight blocks of luxury apartments plus Block Nine full of ordinary folk such as yourselves. This has been included as a philanthropic gesture, in order to secure planning consent. As you can imagine with a pricing structure for Blocks One to Eight that rises to £25 million for a penthouse suite, value for money is absolutely paramount. We at Greyreef Property take seriously our responsibilities to keep affordable housing as affordable as possible. That’s why we are pleased to announce that the agreed maintenance costs levied on Block Nine will not be exacerbated by additional issues.

‘By altering access arrangements to the courtyard garden (ie now positively NO ADMITTANCE for Block Nine tenants) we have managed to avoid having to levy extra service charges for the provision of access fobs – independently costed at approximately 4,000 guineas per fob. In addition, the prohibitive cost of clearing away Block Nine’s anticipated cigarette ends, discarded Pot Noodles, primitive drug paraphernalia and beer cans (an estimated £16 million PA) would have made Lumley Reach simply unaffordable for everyone. ‘I am sure you will join me in praising the spirit of sacrifice that has secured this sustainable solution. The segregated entrances will remain as before. Residents of Blocks One to Eight via the concierge hub, residents of Block Nine via the tenant chute located in the northern wall’. 

Now. Back to the REAL work of vision polishing.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Enharmonic Typology 2, Relabelling 1.

SUNDAY Self conflicted. Deny oneself access to recliner on grounds that I don’t deserve it. Argue with contentious self. Occupy recliner as victorious self, so it’s six and two threes really.

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