Monday, 10 November 2008

Town planning

So today we are engaged with our project on architecture. Now I can think about Gothic arches instead of self harming.

First, I gather every book I can find on architecture scattered around the house. Then, with Shark, Tiger and Squirrel, we turn each page, oohing and aahing and finger pointing. This occupies us for hours.

We unearth exquisite hand drawings of wonderful buildings from Iraq that might be glorious examples of our earliest human civilisations, if they are not already blasted to smithereens, possibly last Thursday. Leaping through time, we discover ancient baked buildings in Iran, beacons to the world, and I silently thank thousands of sane, splendid, right-thinking people that Sarah Palin is still shooting moose and filming herself talking with turkeys.

Space and time travellers, we walk through ancient Egyptian pyramids and resolve to trek Petra, Athens and Rome together. We recall visits to iron age Dorset forts, fragrant wooden Saxon houses, wonderful Gothic churches, mud and earth houses, and on and on for hours through all continents, armed with wood, plaster, earth, reed, steel, concrete, glass and brick, until we arrive at Gaudi's door and wonder what if every building were round or flowing or shaped like starfish and scattered light around us as we moved and talked.

And while the little gritlets scatter to draw their buildings of the future, I move onto my soapbox in our battered Victorian kitchen, and say that this is the point about architecture. It is about people and how we interact with buildings and how they shape the space we move in. Tiger, I say, as she embarks on designing an earth house for her pet Pegasus, you must be an active participant in a new town environment; look around and think how you would shape these spaces, use them, and rearrange them.

Squirrel, I cry, I want you to come out fighting when the town planners think it's a good idea to concrete the last park for another lookalike Metro Centre car park, or the authorities dismantle the Gothic Victorian church to build another Netto, or the Taliban ride into town, point at the Notre Dame and blow it up.

And you have to be all guns blazing about the buildings created around you in the future, I tell Shark, sure already that she will be. We need inspiring buildings created by visionary thinkers; buildings that will endure and become new wonders of the world.

Well I have no doubt that in this field the gritlets will become vocal, possibly formidable, and dare I admit it, already expressing an interest in establishing an architectural office in Central London, so not without ambition. And they'll need it.

Because some little lad right now is stacking up his building blocks, destined to be a pen pushing little irritant who, in twenty years time, will be in possession of an imagination as rich as that of a dead badger, a meagre council budget, and a bloke he knows with a ton of concrete to offload.

Well little fella, look out. Because on this subject matter, I don't fancy your chances.


The Boisterous Butterfly said...

If they have your astuteness and staying power, I pity that little irritant and say that he will not get very far with his bags of cement. I don't fancy his chances at all when faced with the gritlets and I suppose you will be hanging around in the background somewhere.

sharon said...

What a fascinating journey you all had Grit. It's amazing how different architectural styles are between countries isn't it! also the way different people occupy and use their spaces.

Possibly a much-maligned species, the Town Planner. My DH was one and spent most of his career stopping inappropriate developments, including a 3 month court battle with McDs to prevent the opening of a drive-through 'restaurant' in a heritage listed area. He beat them although they immediately appealed to the High Court. DH did work for LB of Greenwich though so maybe it was a peculiarity confined to that borough.

Not much preservation in Australia unfortunately but it is slowly improving. Buildings do get 'listed' these days. Sometimes they also get burnt down too;-(

Mud in the City said...

Excellent! I'm backing the Gritlets against the council morons of the future!

Mud in the City said...

Award for you at mine!

Samurai Beetle said...

I love your way with words - still laughing about the poor moose and turkey comment! Too funny!!!

Retiredandcrazy said...

A "meagre council budget"? Oh come on grit they have vast fortunes to squander.

Can I come to Petra with you and the girls? I have always wanted to go there.

Grit said...

hello folks, and thank you for your comments, and award, of course, which i shall come and have a look at right now.

retired and crazy, we could all book a virtual google tour over there, since for the time being it remains a dream here too.