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Soft buy area

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Ian Martin redesigns the Labour Party

MONDAY Redesign the Labour Party, making its point sort of dissolve into the air, like the Shard, and incorporating a disconnected platform for elevated tossers, like the Shard.

TUESDAY Sketch out a preconceptual matrix for a new colony on Mars, or possibly for a future Earth devastated by the catastrophic failure of nature. I’m trying to keep it flexible and non-site-specific.

My aspirational prototype is Podlington Fields - rows of weightless eggs linked to form a weird space kibbutz and finished in Farrow & Ball Sci-Fi Silver. The whole project is ecologically sound as everything’s constructed from ‘regolith’, the surface material that gathers in all corners of an unswept universe. The tins of paint are all that’s required, apart from a 3-D printer-gatherer on all-terrain wheels, and a decent Wi‑Fi connection.

Housing traditionalists are thrilled that my habitable pods are arranged in terraces. And the latest printers can focus the power of the Sun to convert sort-of sand into sort-of glass, so I’ve gone for a futuro-Georgian style with sash windows and pedimented airlocks.

Inevitably, some very keen buy-to-let types have offered to buy pods off-plan, despite the fact that planning permission has yet to be sought.  This is reckless post-late capitalism at its greediest and stupidest, so I’m making the deposits non-returnable.

WEDNESDAY I think on balance Podlington Fields is better suited to a bleak and ravaged Earth, as I would hate to rely on the customer service of certain phone providers if anything went wrong with the printer connection ‘up there’.

On the pretext of wanting to upgrade my mobile, I ‘messaged’ a sales rep: would 4G work OK on Mars? He told me to go into settings and make sure the ‘I Could Give A Fuck’ option was switched OFF. What hope now for the future of space travel stroke survival of the human race?

Sometimes it feels like the internet is just one long, repetitive, pass-ag, crowdsourced suicide note with apostrophes in all the wrong places.

THURSDAY Create three billion brownfield homes on a site in Worcestershire by including insects.

FRIDAY All design is undesigning, and all doing is undoing, really.  That’s the refreshing approach I’m bringing to this gig at Tamworth University, in the absence of any new ideas.

The former Tamworth Metropolytechnic was conceived and built in the 1960s, when people had quaint ideas about what should be paid for (eg music, pornography, architecture and journalism) and what should be free (eg parking, telly, access to art, tertiary education).

The campus has a simple, rugged layout. Squares and ginnels, clusters of tough friendly buildings in thrilling concrete and weathered brick, linked by a long spinal walkway. The metro-poly looks as good today as when it was built. Better, in fact, as it has acquired the scuff and patina of a lived-in centre of learning.  

To be honest the best thing you could do is double the maintenance budget so it’s really well cared for.  Then people could enjoy it as a living theatre of post-war British history, a cherished working treasure from a time when we invested trust and optimism in our young people. A perfectly functioning continuum and a model of sustainability, as zero energy is being expended dicking it about for no good reason.

The second best thing you could do is ‘regenerate the walkway, creating a necklace thoroughfare with enlivened building frontages’, which is where I come crashing in.

Obviously the ‘pedestrian route’ is exactly that. Boring. Oh, you can walk along it in either direction and it keeps the rain off?

Big deal.  That’s not going to cut it in the highly competitive world of an education industry pumped full of shareholder expectations and parental subsidy. Spaces need to be plugged into the real world of franchised retail, have all sorts of weird connective tissue, interesting diagonal relationships, a Little Waitrose etc.

Yes, all doing is undoing. And in a way all work is not working, so I take the rest of the day off in the hope of improving my productivity.

SATURDAY Finish unpicking the historic environment of Tamworth Metropolytechnic.  

The egregious spinal walkway has now been completely deconstructed and it looks like a soft play area for proto-adults. Result!

Memo To Self: start using the phrase ‘soft buy area’.

SUNDAY Create a linear spinal restway in the recliner.

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