Negative equity

Maria Smith tempts clients with a cheaper alternative

Dear Client, let’s just not do this. Let’s just not waste our energy and attention on carrying out a feasibility study for a site that is so tiny and so awkward that it would be impossible to develop more than a pigeon’s clawful of sub-standard shoeboxes for human storage. Let’s just not pretend you want us to investigate efficient methods of construction so that you can afford to sell these coffins at an affordable price and singlehandedly solve the housing crisis. Let’s just not ignore that you don’t even own the site and are in fact in a long term feud with the developer that does own it and are mostly doing this to prove your prowess. Let’s just not gush with pride that you’ve chosen us as your architect because your previous design team did such a poor job so skirting over the truth that this is, in effect, a competition without the pretense of fairness. Let’s just not negotiate a paired down fee that we are more than happy to accept in the halcyon thrill of a virgin new project. Let’s just not self-flagellate with the whip of abortive work. Let’s save us all some time and let me just buy you a VW Golf instead. It’s worth the same money.

Dear Client, let’s just not do this. Let’s just not work up a thousand options including ones we both know can’t work but tickle our perversities. Let’s just not build expensive models to varying levels of abstraction that make even our most pedestrian ideas look massively satisfying. Let’s just not get verified views from bizarre vantage points that make even our most inappropriate options look fitting. Let’s just not meet with every stakeholder’s second cousin and develop a matrix of possibilities that tick everybody’s boxes. Let’s just not interrogate every embryonic idea to prove it doesn’t work. Let’s just not draw a true elevation of the whole three-mile street to convince ourselves that our proposal isn’t too tall or outlandish when seen in the context of the entire world. Let’s just not rethink ergonomics from first principles to redefine the concept of sitting down and thereby reject all space standards or evolved wisdom in spatial design. Let’s just not languish in the rough caress of the noose of abortive work. Let’s save us all some time and let me just buy you a brand new bottom of the range Ford Focus Style instead. It’s worth the same money.

Let’s just not get verified views from bizarre vantage points that make even our most inappropriate options look fitting. Let’s just not languish in the rough caress of the noose of abortive work

Dear Client, let’s just not do this. Let’s just not kid ourselves that we have a hope in hell of getting planning permission for this obsequious obscenity. Let’s just not carry on under the assumption that your brother in law’s relationship with the planning officer’s dog walker puts us in good stead for an exemption from the local development framework provided we can offer clear justification in the form of a design and access statement longer than the bible and hand written supporting letters from every resident within a 500m radius. Let’s just not commission specialist reports from independent historians on how the conservation area character appraisal is moot due to a mistake in the Doomsday Book. Let’s just not tee up the withdrawal and re-application and appeal by working up a series of designs each marginally less ambitious yet interestingly more profitable than the last, all under the assumption that just as soon as we get through planning we can all recoup our investment. Let’s just not throw ourselves alive onto the pyre of piles of abortive work. Let’s save us all some time and let me just buy you an Audi S1 instead. It’s worth the same money.

Dear Client, let’s just not do this. Let’s just not prepare a tender package full of tenderly prepared detail drawings beautifully illustrating our nigh-on impossible to build proposals in the name of safeguarding quality. Let’s just not spend more time than it took to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to compose a performance specification so stunning that every contractor will triple their estimate in full expectation of having to build everything three times. Let’s just not nurture our conceit that this is the prototype of a new construction technology and all our additional hours are research and development loss leaders for everything we’ll do for the rest of our careers. Let’s just not design everything in such a way as necessitates hourly requests for information and continuous site meetings for the duration of the construction that we happily agree to do for a fixed lump sum because not only can you not tell the difference, but we can’t tell the difference and every detail we’ve designed is astonishingly dangerous to build. Let’s just not throw ourselves in the river tied to a weighty sack of abortive work. Let’s save us all some time and let me just buy you a Jaguar XE instead. It’s worth the same money. •

Maria Smith is a director at architecture and engineering practice Interrobang and curator of Turncoats