MONDAY Game over. Just designed the first ever built-in pop-up.
TUESDAY Bit of a moral dilemma. I’ve been asked by enemies of my old friend Loaf, the mayor of London, to work up a rival scheme to what Chinese investors are calling Enchanted Pay Forest Over River Boris.
Is that OK? If the client is an enemy of your friend? Maybe there’s a way of rearranging this conundrum so that it makes sense, and money. ‘The enemy of my client is my friend’. Yeah, that’ll do it. I’ll crack on.
WEDNESDAY The enemy of my friend in question is ecomentalist Amy Blackwater, who has been cooking up an extreme anti-capitalist garden scheme with another of my old friends, magic arborealist Isis de Cambray.
Also involved are the SNP, some weird forestry activists called Dark Sylvania and BBC2, who want to turn it into a six-part fly-on-the-wall with pizzicato strings – a wide-spectrum coalition of people who crave a futile yet magnificent gesture of opposition to David Cameron and his cronies. The project is called #GARDENSMASH and they want me to prepare an environmental impact statement for it. The money’s not brilliant but the mischief is tremendous.
Already there are more than 20,000 signatures on an online petition, which features a menacing picture of Amy in her trademark balaclava and the statement: ‘We the undersigned reject proposals for a pay-per-view garden bridge over the Thames. So what if it has been supported by elderly actress Dame Plumella Posho and designed by celebrated architect Little Timmy Trembleshanks? It’s just more bullshit for the rich.
‘We call upon everyone to agree that it’s about time the City of London paid for its cruelty. We want our pound of flesh. #GARDENSMASH is an emergency land tithe on capitalism and here’s how it works: the City is divided into 25 wards. Put them all into a symbolic bowler hat, get Charlotte Church to pull one out. Whichever ward it is gets #GARDENSMASHED. Purged of all commercial interests, yanked back into public ownership without compensation, all traffic banned, smashed to bits and turned into a big fucking garden.
‘Obviously we are not going to destroy a Hawksmoor church or any classic Brutalism – we’re not idiots. But all that other shit can go, or be converted into live-in allotments, whatever, we can decide at the time, who knows which bit of the City it’ll be. I think if we get like a million votes or whatever we can probably just do it? It’s exciting COME ON. #GARDENSMASH.’
THURSDAY I turn my attention to Heisenburgh, a city I’m designing in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Its urban credentials are impeccable.
For a start it’s designed to accommodate up to half a million people in an area much too small, which I think you’ll agree is very urban indeed. Apart from the superdensity, Heisenburgh’s urban credentials will include sponsored Wi-Fi, retro trams, licensed street musicians, a Disney store, a carefully controlled shoppers dress code, franchises for all major street food chains, drones creating a ‘metropolitan buzz’, skateboarding and cycling lanes on all sidewalks, targeted advertising, young professionals with coffee etc.
Yet already there’s parping from the ‘en mi jardín no’ brigade, who bleat that Heisenburgh will take 40 million gallons of water a day, causing what they dramatically call a ‘megadrought’. Some liberal smartarses have started a protest campaign with the slogan Nobody Likes A Suck-Up.
People. Why do they just … clog everything up? All auteurs of epic space need to keep their creative outlets flowing. I hate to sound callous, but people are just dead hair and soap gunge.
FRIDAY Amazing. #GARDENSMASH has gone viral. Apparently the whole world wants to see moneychangers hosed out of the City and replaced by cosmic energy orchards and tomatoes.
Fear is building, fast. There’s been some sort of whipround. Anonymous donors are offering €1.5 billion to leave Cripplegate ward out of the smash draw. What a time to be alive.
SATURDAY To the Guildford Festival of Jazz Architecture. Excited to see a preview of Fatso Bollinger’s new smooth, easy-fit version of Baroque. He calls it ‘Barogue’. Stylish, comfortable, perforated.
SUNDAY Mind-balancing in the recliner. How to reconcile working simultaneously on anti-capitalist #GARDENSMASH and pro-capitalist Heisenburgh?
I’m a Renaissance man, that’s how. And the Renaissance would have gone nowhere without regular income.
© Ian Martin, June 2015
(This article was originally published in Architects’ Journal, reproduced with kind permission of the author.
Ian Martin is a comedy writer with credits including The Thick Of It and Veep. He is a weekly columnist for the Architects’ Journal and is a regular contributor to the Guardian.