Ian Martin witnesses the re-gangsterfication of the East End
MONDAY Capital may not trickle down but catastrophe certainly does. Zaha’s £1.3bn Tokyo stadium has been shelved ‘in a major rethink’, boo hoo. Spare a ‘rethought’ for me, and the hundreds of other sub-consultants whose stadium peripherals have also been heaved into a big bloody Japanese skip. I’d designed a versatile ‘Olympic Chi-Osk’. You could have someone standing inside it, selling stuff? Or standing outside maybe, in a costume? Olympic souvenirs, merchandise, whatever, here’s a short presentation with a Chemical Brothers track over it.
I didn’t factor in the ‘cost of a person’. I assumed they’d all be volunteers. I thought the rule was: design’s expensive but people are free. My mistake.
TUESDAY To the Shard. London’s egregious, jagged Mammon-Prick. I’m setting aside my loathing temporarily, as a client’s hiring part of it out for a glamorous launch tomorrow. Controversial tailored hip-hop developer Phil Cluster has booked an entire floor and is turning it into a sales office for Krays Polyp, my unbuilt yet critically-acclaimed tower of micropartments in east London. The jobsworth on reception with his jewellery and ironic Hitler moustache could not be less helpful. ‘Which floor, mate?’ If there’s one thing more infuriating than being called ‘mate’ by some porn-addicted scorchmark behind a desk, it’s not knowing which floor I want. EVERY floor here is a sales office for new flats in east London, apparently.
I ask him to look up Krays Polyp, spelling it out for him three times. We’re getting nowhere when Phil Cluster suddenly arrives looking like a heartless, impeccably-dressed gangster which obviously he is. He wants to know ‘what’s occurring’. When pornbot matey-boy nervously asks him to sign in, Phil moves around the reception desk and in one fluid movement sweeps him to the floor and punches him in his callow guts. ‘Don’t fuck me about’ Phil whispers, urgently. ‘Or I’ll smash your fucking face into summer pudding’.
Now, I yield to none in my abhorrence of violence but still. Nice, finally, to know what floor we’re on (the 22nd)! Phil’s amiable enough in the lift, chatting to another developer, Jamie, also on his way to oversee the launch of some upmarket mockney nanopads, on the 27th floor. Jamie’s responsible for The Jellied Eel resi-tower in Walthamstow Meadows, designed by ‘ethical architects’ Artisanto Living Solutions. It’s OK, but lacks the effortless panache of Krays Polyp, to be honest.
Weird. You’d think there would be fierce competition between gangster-developers, but the whole sector’s very relaxed at the moment. Insatiable demand. Enough money coursing briefly through east London these days to solve world hunger. It’s all good.
WEDNESDAY Krays Polyp launch day. Of course everyone’s expecting a contemporary masterpiece crammed with spatially challenging units, appealing strongly to the investment community. But I for one was not expecting the sheer frenzied nastiness when the sales office opened at nine o’clock sharp.
Snarling. Shouting. Spitting. Elbows. Madness. Fistfights in the queue outside. One INSIDE actually, when an agent for ‘someone big enough in China to have you murdered, you bastard’ discovered Phil had pre-sold the top half of the tower to an Israeli arms dealer. Meanwhile some enterprising Koreans had abseiled from several floors above, hoping to beat the rush, not allowing for the Shard’s rudimentary double glazing which prevents the windows from opening. Hats off to the two buying agents who’d independently hatched the idea of disguising themselves as caterers, although as a result ‘coffee and pastries’ was farcical. It was carnage. Lucrative, lucrative carnage. All 400 units sold, from 400k for a ‘sleep coffin’ to £3m for a ‘penthouse maxipad’ the size of a 1970s council flat. Total: £350m. Phil’s had a word with planning – ‘sweet’ – and we’re cloning another two Krays Polyps in Bromley. As he says, you can never have too much uniqueness.
THURSDAY Idea: revive camping by calling tents ‘starter homes’.
FRIDAY The government has taken my advice and scrapped its zero-carbon buildings policy.
Stigmatising carbon simply gave it an edgy, ‘bad boy’ image. Now perhaps we’ll see an end to tiresome carbon-heavy commissions from wealthy potentates who found a perverse pleasure in uninsulated ‘bareback’ walls, patio heaters etc. Common sense has prevailed at last.
SATURDAY Heavy lunchtime thinking at the pub. Reimagine notions of ‘pub’ ‘self’ and ‘time’.
SUNDAY Remain visionary but focused in the recliner. A tunnel visionary.