Ian Martin manages to avoid the gangsters and dickheads in Cannes, but finds his ethics tested back home
MONDAY Futureproof a contemporary metropolis by rebadging part of it a contemporary necropolis.
TUESDAY Spend the morning finalising my general election pitch for Britain’s industrial and social renewal with the slogan ‘A Million Luxury Homes And A Green Cortina’.
Of course my pitch is that this would be a public sector initiative. These homes are for ALL potential taxpayer tenants, including hard-renting families, and are beautifully designed to destroy the property market.
From the ashes of equity and the cinders of financial futures would rise a new economic model. People would be whistling on their way to work again. Architects would be back on the Today programme talking bollocks.
The Green Cortina thing’s rhetorical, by the way. It’s more of a Trabant, a state-subsidised free hire car too boring to nick. Imagine. Millions of them being permanently cleaned and repaired in approved workshops. It runs not on petrol but on human waste of course, I’m not an idiot. It would however be built in historic manufacturing areas – Dagenham, Wolverhampton, Middlesbrough – ha-ha, no seriously though I have really spent the morning working up a scheme to convert some allotments into an assisted living complex with ample car parking oh God.
WEDNESDAY It’s the annual Cannes Carvénal this week. Historically THE Franglais international marché for professionals of l’immobilier, it has blossomed over the years into a spectacular networking event.
Gangsters and dickheads gather at the Carvénal every year to discuss how to make more money from the world of building, and then selling, remotely-owned apartments. ‘Creatives’ are there too, offering guff about epic space in the 21st century, wittering about ‘airtake’ and ‘spatial pushthrough’ and ‘beyond visual reach to Visual Reach Plus’, hoping obviously to build relationships with the gangsters and dickheads.
Poor creatives. All those architects, urban flâneurs and collaborative artists. So essential to brighten the proceedings. Standing on the fringe, decorative and interesting, like hookers at a mafia picnic. It’s easy for me to sneer because I’m not going this year.
My fixer Rock Steady Eddie has gone instead, to shmooze some deep cover contacts of his who have apparently just acquired ‘the top half of the Gaza Strip’.
THURSDAY All those years of hollow sneering at the ethical equivocation of the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects have finally paid off.
Kimberley Funsion, head of ethics at the RIPBA, got in touch to say they hate having me outside the yurt pissing in. They’d prefer to have me inside the yurt pissing out. ‘Although ideally,’ she confides, ‘we’d rather you just came into the yurt for a chat having perhaps have visited the WC en route…’
FRIDAY Full day with Kimberley’s team at the RIPBA, thrashing out an ethical journey we can all believe in. As usual there are five points:
• Ethical Offset Scheme. Under this new initiative institute members may transfer ‘ethical debits’ incurred while working on questionable schemes overseas. Debits may be transferred via approved ethical brokers to areas of the world with surplus unethical capacity such as the Federated States of Micronesia, leaving the responsible practitioner free to incur future guilt at competitive rates.
• Update the institute’s moral code from ‘Think Ethical, Design Ethical’ to the more morally readable ‘Passionate About Ethics’.
• Introduce an Ethic Of The Month feature to the members’ newsletter, eg Conservation of Earth’s Precious Resources, Honesty in Billing and Diversity Awareness, eg the regional accents of British architects.
• An Ethical Toolkit enabling the contemporary architect to perform running ethical repairs on his (or her!) conscience and the conscience of others. Includes emotional pliers, a self-doubting spanner set and a Guardian fleece.
• Introduce a new Fully Ethical category of membership. For an extra £6,274 per annum, architects can feel the warm glow of verified ethicality and clients can be absolutely reassured that they’ve been told officially that their architect is Fully Ethical because £6,274 certainly doesn’t look like a figure just plucked from the air, does it?
SATURDAY Meet Rock Steady Eddie down the pub to swap notes on formulating a new ethical code and creatively developing part of the Gaza Strip by force. We agree we’re looking at a considerable level of ethical offset here and that, ethically, laughter is often the best medicine, along with alcohol.
SUNDAY Remain ethically ambivalent in the recliner.