Ian Martin salutes Edinburgh with his Och o’ the Noo project
MONDAY To the peerless city of Edinburgh, globally admired for its rugged, durable streetscape which has survived centuries of environmental assault.
And that’s worth remembering says my client, the cardboard magnate Stieff Amazonsen. Because if Edinburgh HAS already survived centuries of environmental assault, it is surely tough enough to cope with one more tourism cash aggregator flung into its noble sandstone face like a wet turd.
I have therefore been engaged to salute the city’s remarkable resilience by designing the Och o’ the Noo luxury retail and hospitality complex in a screamingly non-contextual way. Indeed, to do otherwise would be an insult to Edinburgh. Obviously in the publicity we’ll be using phrases such as ‘gently folded in’ and ‘seamlessly blending’ and ‘respectful of the surrounding grandeur’. But come on. We all know that anything called Och o’ the Noo will have the vulgar sprayed-on personality of a deranged, effete clown.
To the lofty critics who will inevitably call Och o’ the Noo a crass act of civic vandalism I say this: chill out, Tweedy McDudeys. Have a little more faith in the robustness of what’s left of this marvellous built heritage because it’s going to look a lot more precious very very soon.
TUESDAY In the morning, design a thatched Routemaster. In the afternoon, design a shingled burger van.
WEDNESDAY My developer associate Phil Cluster has a ‘real passion’ for multi-storey car parks. It is no coincidence that his favourite film is Get Carter, as essentially he’s a violent gangster.
His latest acquisition is a derelict post-Brutalist specimen in south London. He’s asked me to knock up plans to convert the whole thing into a vibrant cultural community, hundreds of affordable artists’ studios in a lovely higgledy-piggledy network of creative hubbery. To be honest, this doesn’t sound like the Phil Cluster I know. Only last week he sent the bailiffs in to evict squatters from a multi-storey car park in Norwich he’d just paid cash for. He led the attack himself, like Alexander the Great but with a sockful of loose change.
I get a brief: ‘Do one of those design statements. Bleat on about how London should be more than just a money farm. All that mimsy tofu about how we’re in danger of losing our precious pansy potters and tossers in smocks because the poor little darlings haven’t got anywhere to do their shitty modern “art” apart from in Daddy’s garage in east Sussex which is MILES away from Camden, boo fucking hoo…’ OK suddenly he DOES sound like himself.
THURSDAY Bingo. Phil’s all over the media, a heroic patron of the arts. Now of course I’m instructed to work up Plan B for the car park – its conversion to a tightly-packed bundle of seriously unaffordable contemporary apartments aimed at the sort of buyers who might invest in art and rented property and who often hire people like Phil to expedite certain ‘business logistics’.
Meanwhile, Phil reminds the local authority of their dilemma. One car park plan will bolster the borough’s ‘urban credentials’ within the skinny jeans and little hat community. The other plan will be popular with estate agents, create a new mini-peninsula of wealth and prestige and generate quite a lot of council tax.
FRIDAY Phil proclaims his disgust for the rejection of Plan A (art) by the council, who are very much in favour of Plan B (income). It’s a sad day for creativity, Phil says. He will have nothing to do with it.
By mid-afternoon he’s sold the site to himself via a darknet intermediary he also owns, having bumped up the value of the proposed Get Cartier Luxury Hangouts development by 12 per cent and cemented his position as a champion of young artists who, like Charles Saatchi, is not afraid to grab life by the throat.
SATURDAY To the annual Form Without Cancer fundraising dinner. Very moving and nuanced speech by the epic space commentator Darcy Farquear’say and his accessorised dachshund Bauhau.
Summary: cancer’s awful, whimper, architecture’s great, yap yap, let’s eradicate the first and celebrate the second, woof woof.
SUNDAY In the recliner, working on a competition design competition for a ‘European greyzone of diversity’. I’m putting in lots of uncertainty and secularism and hoping for the best.
As dusk falls I’m gripped by a bleak pessimism. I tweak the design, fetishising some aspects and monetising others.