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Quiz time with Ian Martin


Are you a national architectural treasure? Let’s find out…

QUESTION 1 Let’s start with that basic indicator of architectural genius, innovative cladding. Have you specified any of the following materials recently: zipped leather, decommissioned weapons, bubblewrap, knitted fibre-optic cable, chainmail, an energy plasma field or a biodegradable medium – toast, say?

If you have, proceed to the next question. If you haven’t, you are neither pushing boundaries nor challenging perceptions. You’re definitely not a ‘national architectural treasure’. You’re not even a player, fool!

QUESTION 2 Do your buildings rise dramatically from the site as a fluid and organic whole, igniting the environment and creating a dynamic beacon of optimism in a world numbed by negativity?

If yes, proceed to the next question. If your buildings just sort of sit there like big fat lumps, you’re rubbish. Abandon this questionnaire.

QUESTION 3 Have you been photographed by a magazine recently, pretending not to notice the camera, surrounded by inert props and apparently mumbling to yourself about how we have to retool the profession? Yeah? Then kindly leave the page. National treasures do not discuss such things.

If, on the other hand, you’ve said in interview that space is a material shaped by dreams and that you strive for an architecture which goes beyond mere form-making into a systemic alchemic polemic whatever, congratulations. You’re a probationary treasure.

QUESTION 4 Do you disdain Britain’s suburbs and its human contents? Do you think people who’d rather go to a carpet warehouse than the Donmar Warehouse are at least misguided, if not actually in breach of international law?Do you think barbeques in/and/or gardens are utterly selfish? Do you say things like Good Taste Is The Enemy Of Creativity, or Comfortable Furniture Is The Enemy Of, I don’t know, Standing Up?

Of course you do. You’re an architect. It’s a trick question.

QUESTION 5 Do you use ‘critique’ as a verb, all the bloody time? If not, you’re fired. Please leave the national treasure boardroom.

QUESTION 6 Of course, of COURSE, we all condemn violations of human rights. Especially when it involves the exploitation of construction workers hired like expendable human donkeys, risking their lives to build preposterous and effete creations coaxed from the imaginations of architects by imploring and morally neutral tranches of fee income, in parts of the world now designated as hedonistic face-stuffing shop-filled ethnically-cleansed pampering playgrounds for callous shitheads who believe it’s their right to be fawned over like fat demigods when they’re on holiday.

If your policy is either to refuse to work on such projects, or on a point of principle to be not successful enough to land any, your hopes of becoming a national treasure are slim. If, however, you can keep a straight face and say things like, ‘I am committed to supporting our client in achieving equitable working conditions’, and once went to an ethical fundraiser where Sting played his fucking lute after dinner, congratulations. You certainly sound like a national architectural treasure.

QUESTION 7 Rearrange the following words to make a coherent sentence: is, urban, masque, provocative, the, integrated, resonance, lifeview, of, freestyle, curvery, and.

If you tried to do this, I’m afraid you are not a treasure. If, however, you suggest that the randomness of the elements has its own occult interconnectivity, you could be on to something. If you imagined the individual words scattered across Photoshopped montages of city streets at night with coloured blobs and jagged lines, you’re probably already a regional treasure at least.

QUESTION 8 Do you ever think about writing poetry? If you do: sorry. The national treasure express has pulled out, leaving you dithering in the waiting room unsure of what your true vocation is. If you bashfully explain at dinner parties that your architecture IS poetry, well done. That’s exactly the sort of simpering psychomuff the Pritzker lot love.

QUESTION 9 Who do you think you are – GOD? Ah-ha! Got you. You were doing so well, too. A genuine national architectural treasure does not believe in God. They believe in a universe of infinite self-confidence with, at its theological centre, an omnipotent sulk.

QUESTION 10 Have you ever done an icon? If not, please produce one, then retake questions 1-9.



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