I am rarely lost for words; you might even describe me as chatty (well, that’s the polite way of putting it) but the other day, I discovered something that left me absolutely speechless.
I’ve always wondered just who designs those nasty little orange euroboxes like my former home of Dovecot Towers which are disfiguring cities everywhere. Whoever they are, they express their hatred of humanity by designing homes that are less about domestic bliss and more about smiting people with vengeance. I imagine their wizened yellow faces contorted with malice, manically intoning their evil plans and cackling until dawn as they draw up the blueprints, satisfied at the huge amount of misery they inflict upon their enemies.
Who else could be held responsible? I know that developers pay this evil piper to call their tune, but seriously – what were the architects thinking when they designed those meagre little box flats? Does nobody ever reject their demonic plans and drag them out by the scruff of the neck, slapping them as they shout: “You’ve been a very naughty architect!”
In fact truth is worse than that. The architect is invisible and powerless. The architect is absent. You see, there is no architect. Buildings urban twat-flats are designed by anybody who fancies a try.
The excellent blog Bad British Architecture (see links) has coined an excellent phrase, which always makes me laugh: ‘developer vernacular,’ that is, buildings styled and envisaged by developers, who favour cost-saving uniform grey metal fittings and orange brick infill stuck onto a concrete box.
Exactly who is responsible, then? Anybody who fancies giving it a go, basically: the work experience girl, some bloke who was wandering by, the cleaner, the man who delivers the organic veg box, Jeffrey from Rainbow, and (on more than one occasion) a troupe of semi-trained gibbons.
Here’s what happens: they draw a childlike box, with no fripperies, no extras, no fancy accoutrements like strong doors, insulated walls, space, or cupboards. They squeeze everything into their tiny little closet and afterwards put a window-box outside and call it a balcony.
Seriously though – can you imagine the same happening anywhere else, where rank amateurs intent on torturing humanity are given free rein to meddle in what should be a skilled profession and thereby ruin innocent lives? (oh right – apart from letting agents.)
Please tell me I’ve been misinformed: please tell me there’s a law stating that houses must be planned with great skill by people specially trained to this, allowing for safety, comfort and even beauty (shouldn’t our homes be beautiful – if only for the sake of the poor blighters standing outside dumbstruck with horror or pointing and laughing.)
But apparently, that’s the way it is. The plans are drawn up with a stubby crayon, and if we’re lucky, they’re in a straight line and everything! Please tell me that’s not true.
Although thinking about it – why be so churlish? Why not embrace this notion of can-do. Since you’re asking, I’ve always fancied trying a spot of brain surgery, and I’ve also got this great fantastic idea for a nuclear power station. Somebody hire me please – after all, what harm could I possibly do?