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Name that tomb

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin designs an austere deathpod

MONDAY An existential, gloomy start to the week. I seem to be surrounded by intimations of mortality.

It’s as if I’ve gone beyond a tipping point. Those who police our aesthetic-moral universe look younger every year to me. Worse, my visualisation’s deteriorating and I’m increasingly reliant on professional contacts. I’ll be honest, in moments of quiet contemplation my massing sometimes seems barely coherent.

My thoughts inevitably turn to the question of posthumous acclaim. As an eminent auteur of epic space my intellectual legacy will be considerable, of course. But eminent auteurs of epic space need a properly impressive tomb, something solid and solemn. Let’s face it, you don’t want A-list mourners turning up to pay their respects at some generic gravestone with an incised platitude and a pot plant from Sainsbury’s. You’d be letting them down, you’d be letting the afterlife down and most of all you’d be letting your dead self down. It is with a creeping Gothic horror that I realise I haven’t updated the design of my tomb since the late 90s, when my ironic ‘snarcophagus’ came third in the Creative on Sunday’s Deathspace 2000 competition. Things were easier in those days. Diana’s death was still fresh in people’s minds and the dial-up ‘information superhighway’ offered new ways to think about immortality.

I dig out the tomb design. God it’s embarrassing, so ‘Brit Pop-Up Arch’. It reeks of a popular culture dominated by the lying shit Blair. It’s grandiose, the size of a two-bedroom flat, and designed in that ‘wavy grunge’ style so popular at the time with second-generation PFI architects. The Aztec frippery and primary colours were post-ironic even then. It has to go. I spend the afternoon designing something more suitable for the 21st century. An austere, classy deathpod clad in non-reflective quotidium, mounted on an invisible ‘hard air’ base, a sort of Schrodinger’s Catafalque. Also – stand back, contemporary thinking coming through – the tomb will be a wifi hot spot, enscrolled by tributes, poetry and aphorisms. Done. Bosh.

Oops, nearly forgot to add a ‘selfie plinth’.

TUESDAY Sketch out a plan to create a meeting place for young people in a listed bus station by leaving the perimeter fence unsecured.

WEDNESDAY De-clutter the countryside by imagining downloadable ‘cloudtricity’.

THURSDAY Experience a sense of defensible space for the first time in years by getting parked outside my own fucking house for a change.

FRIDAY Dusty Penhaligon the conservactionist has launched the stupidest architectural crowdfunding campaign of all time. He and his mates in the Built Heritage Re-enactment Society want to build a fully functioning replica of a council estate.

Never mind the sheer clattering absurdity of trying to raise three billion quid from the philanthropic ‘wing’ of the architectural profession, who’s going to design it? ‘Capita’? ‘Consignia’? ‘Williams & Glyn’? Don’t make me laugh. The days of municipal socialism are gone forever, along with school milk and club comedians on the telly. Ask my mother-in-law, she’s dead.

Dusty, trapped forever in the gormless radiance of the past, now has a vague plan to reconvene the Greater London Council architects department from volunteers casually dressed in period clothes. ‘Council estates and forests once covered the country. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reclaim part of our mysterious past? It makes sound economic sense as well. Imagine the tourist potential. If you did it with loads of concrete people would flock, trust me. Obviously you’d have to set up council tenancies, perhaps via an investment bank, before introducing the Right to Buy to Let. Maybe set up an Airbnb pool…’ He squints off into the distance, sucking on his roll-up. I think the project is doomed. All it needs is for a handful of smartarses to decide that the council estate is some kind of ‘affordable community’ and the whole financial model’s in jeopardy. I tell Dusty I’ll donate online, but anonymously, so he won’t know that I haven’t.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Dead Modernism 3, Paused Space Age 2.

SUNDAY The architecture correspondent of the Sunday Express is particularly abrasive this week. ‘A poorly designed migrant church in Calais constructed – without planning permission, by the way – from wooden planks, scrap metal, plastic sheets and duct tape somehow represents a triumph of the human spirit, does it?  THE WALLS AREN’T EVEN STRAIGHT. God help us…’


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