Ian Martin considers the capital’s newest reboot but first must deal with some troublesome mosaics
MONDAY Reboot my franchise, by starting the week more or less as usual but wearing a little hat for a change.
TUESDAY Looks like the hat’s working its serendipitous magic already. As my friend the great hip-hop architect Spandrell Mish puts it, ‘rebooty be begetting rebooty’.
Amazing. Once he’d heard about my hat – actually more of a modest Tudor cap worn at a jaunty angle, in the style of Thomas Cromwell – Mish simply had to hire me on the spot as ‘vibe acoustician’ for his latest, very important, cultured do-over.
And what a gig. Overseeing a hard reboot of London landmark Chequer Point, the stylish 1966 tower designed by king of the swinging architects, ‘Colonel’ Danny Shapiro. So honoured to be a part of this, its seventh incarnation. Fingers crossed this one works.
I was involved in two of the earlier revamps. There was that one in the 70s when we gave it all a stark counter-culture sort of ‘squatty’ feel, lots of improvised art and anarchist ballet and whatnot. Then there was that much less successful Tory hub phase that followed. Pinstriped captains of industry in a press conference for eight years, barking about the unions and reeking of lunch.
I’m optimistic about this reboot though. Back to basics. A return to the ethos of having a tall, beautiful Modernist slab in central London occupied by arseholes.
WEDNESDAY Of course I know Spandrell Mish by his pre-hip-hop name, Richard Audley-Bryce. Oh man, Dickie was the life and soul of every Georgian squat in Spitalfields in the 80s. Even spent a few months in the full get-up, wig and everything, talking like an antiquated pillock. Eventually he took a weekend off, rejoined the actual world for a bit and never went back. Bowled over by hip-hop, he started wearing his Georgian wig backwards and working up a theory of architecture based on the principles of rap. Linear narrative. Street-focused. ‘Authentic’ and ‘challenging’ to the point where if you didn’t like what he was designing you were basically racist or whatever.
First he lost his double-barrelled name – ‘The hyphen be a siphon yo’ – then changed it altogether. He moved to Brooklyn while it was still a bit rough and was one of the guiding lights during its resurgence as a gentrified auto-nostalgic version of itself. Then, BOOM. His brand of auto-nostalgic rebranding rebooted a score of major hipster shtetls throughout the world. Mish went platinum. Global. The absolute bastard.
But now we turn our attention to Chequer Point. Or rather, Kinky Sexpads, as it’s being rebadged. ‘Yo, first phase of the action be getting that Asian traction,’ says Mish and it occurs to me that this hugely successful architect has spoken in nothing but rhyme since … pre-internet time.
I’m not happy with the frankly vulgar rebadging. If it gets out that we’re calling it ‘that’ to attract creepy Asian investors we’ll look ACTUALLY racist. I suggest the more conservative Hello Kinky Pinky. Mish looks thoughtful. It’s certainly vacuous enough. ‘Know what I think? Paint the motherfucker pink,’ he says. We’re off.
THURSDAY Hit our first major problem. At ground level, the walls are covered in exquisite mosaics. A thousand square metres of dancing, abstract, life-affirming mosaics by Kenneth Lamb, post-war Britain’s most important sculptor and mosaicist.
Unfortunately they’re right in the way of an entirely rethought ground level, with semi-public areas and 5,700m² of exciting shops and restaurants with sponsored linkage to Soho, London’s exciting new premium residential investment district. We’ll have to smash the mosaic walls to pieces. It doesn’t feel quite in the spirit of the original Chequer Point – correction, Hello Kinky Pinky – but luckily I’ve still got my jaunty Tudor cap on and I am thinking in it.
FRIDAY I propose we address any anxieties about the destruction of these irreplaceable mosaics by inviting leading historians, architects and artists to a special meeting about their future after we’ve destroyed them.
And while building works proceed we could swathe the site in expensive-looking prints featuring blown-up snatches of Kenneth Lamb mosaics. It seems only fair.
SATURDAY Mish and I review the Hello Kinky Pinky reboot. Looking good. Fetishised inside, with a pink wash exterior. Renderings are great. It could be Vegas London, or Chinese London, or a totally new London at the luxury end of the Middle East.
SUNDAY Deboot in the recliner.