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That crashing sound is your derivative workload collapsing

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MONDAY. Marx would have made a great estate agent. He loved rhetoric, and spotted Clerkenwell’s fantastic potential years before anyone else.

But ultimately he was wrong about property. All property is not theft. In our puffed-up globalised world, it turns out, all property is FRAUD.
Obviously, the collapse of confidence is bad news for architects, as they’re part of the supply chain. Whether they’re at the top of the profession dreaming the unthinkable, or at the bottom scraping a living from loft conversions and planner-fluffing, architects are discovering that niche is a synonym for recession.

TUESDAY. Put finishing touches to the wooden model of my Olympic Hyperbowl with a cordless carbon buzztool.

WEDNESDAY. I’m starting to find the current economic unpleasantness very tiresome. Most of my clients have ‘put things on hold’. Bastards.
They’re even inventing a new lexicon of anxiety. In the space of a week I’ve had various projects subjected to the following: a narrative rethink. Value chamfering. Credit engineering. A frugality check. Cost-sanding. Rationalised de-aspirationalisation. Catalytic refinance filtering. Liquidity rescaling. High-speed manual double de-crunching.
One victim of this new order is the Iconical Tower I’ve just knocked up for a newly created civic Ground Zero in the middle of Clitheroe. The local livestock market thrived here until 2002, when Communities had it shut down as a hate crime. It’s where the original slave market and witch gallows stood, proudly, in the days before TV drama.
The Iconical Tower is so called because it is both beaconistic AND conical, a helter-skeltery affair inspired by Russian Constructivism, though not in a scary way, people are jittery enough as it is. Imagine Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International, but with a glass lift to the top and a gift shop at the bottom.
Don’t ask me what it’s supposed to ‘be’ or ‘do’, it’s a BLOODY ICON, OK? Its purpose is to be noticed, so people are drawn to downtown Clitheroe to see what’s there. Don’t ask me what there is in central Clitheroe, either. A fortnight ago I would have said ‘Not much, but wait until the Iconical Tower goes up’. Now I’m afraid the mysteries of inner Clitheroe will remain closed to all except those trapped there, as the scheme has been officially ‘freezerplated’.
My companion Barratt the parrot offers his comments. ‘God is in the derivatives! Prepare for the New Utilitarianism! Locally sourced cuttlefish! Any other business! Any other business!’
I wonder if the recession might open up new opportunities for a smart parrot familiar with the contemporary rubric of epic space. Yeah, Barratt needs a job, to get him out of the – i.e my – house.

THURSDAY. Meet Darcy the architecture critic for lunch. Looking very smart in his post-ironic Republican plaid and denim. His stupid, weedy legs are barely able to drag along the massive cowboy spurs clamped inexpertly to the heels of his tan snakeprint Goth boots. Inevitably, his dachshund Bauhau is dressed like a quivering, emaciated version of Sarah Palin, though without the lipstick.
We discuss this year’s Venice pavilions. He’s actually seen them, so has me at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, we agree that there’s still a lot of vitality in built satire. Barratt is insufferable, mimicking Bauhau’s yapped questions from the floor.

FRIDAY. Whoa. There’s a temp job going in the press office of the Royal Institute for the Protection of British Architects. Maternity cover. Duties include announcing shortlists, welcoming government initiatives and saying ‘the RIPBA is the most prestigious architectural institution in the world’ over and over again. I line up an interview for Barratt.

SATURDAY. Melancholy gathering in Bournemouth of the Lib Dem Architects Alliance. The party conference is over and even the fringe has packed up and moved back to Brighton, where it lives. There’s nobody left to hear them debate, which is just how they like it.
Summary: the built environment is becoming denser, but if we all shift to the right a bit there’ll be room for the disaffected.

SUNDAY. Peace and quiet at last. Have laced Barratt’s pumpkin seeds with laudanum. A blissful day in the recliner, immersed in real architecture for a change. Old-fashioned architecture can lift the spirit all right, but only IT enterprise architecture can transform an embedded, high-performance system into a converged sensor network environment.

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