Saturday, 6 November 2010

Banzai on the waterfront!

the derelict ship appearance will go well with the rest of the waterfront
You know, everyone in Dundee will soon be speaking a few more words of Japanese than they do at the moment. In a few years time the five Japanese words known throughout Dundee - Banzai, Sushi and Tora! Tora! Tora! - will be supplemented by U~ōtāfuronto ni howaitoerefanto, or White Elephant on the Waterfront.

The announcement this week that Kengo Kuma and Associates will build the English Museum known as V&A as the centrepiece of the otherwise derelict waterfront project is a devastating body blow for the elite forces of the Scottish architectural fraternity. Sutherland Fussey, RMJM, Gareth Hopkins and others have seen their projects kicked into the Silvery Tay by the judges. Even my own favourite, the proposal by Snøhetta, which could have continued life as an Asda Superstore after it failed to attract any visitors, has been rejected!

Well, I'm reminded of the old Japanese proverb "Ti no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu" or "the frog in the well doesn't know the sea". The judges of this competition are certainly the frogs in the well. To live in a thermos flask, isolated from the realities of property development is a major flaw and shows a complete lack of understanding of the forces at work in Scotland today. Everywhere we look, retailers and housebuilders are getting planning permission to build anywhere - no one will say no! Fantastic! So why bother with an English Museum when Dundee could have more shops? As I've said many times before, what will attract more people? A Superstore or a Museum - it's obvious isn't it? The loons in Brechin and Forfar won't be travelling down to see the English Museum - they will be too busy getting high in Council estates and dunking their bridies in their beer for that. But they would go to a spanking new shopping development.

So too much gazing into the darkness of the well has brought Dundee to this sorry state of affairs. A quote from Emperor Hirohito is appropriate, “We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable.” That's what the good folks of Dundee have been saying for years and this proposal won't change it. Maybe a wee trip up to Aberdeen for those in charge would help - they certainly know how to do development with style and panache!


Tim R said...

Mouthwatering stuff! Not just the building, but your Japanese. I never knew you were so fluent. Another of your hidden talents.

PS - your comments about Brechin folk are a bit much. Don't forget I have roots there.


Dave Thompson said...

Hello again Tim and thanks for commenting. Sorry if my comments about Brechin people caused any offence. I'm sure they will take it in the light hearted spirit in which it was said. But seriously, these folk in Dundee need Donald and Ian down there now before things get worse.

Yours in planning
Dave T

Nemesis said...

I think, Dave, they also need a regeneration consultation with Sir David Murray & his team, headed by the US's Finest, The Tiger Woods of Planning (according to Jim MacKinnon) Noo Urbanist Maestro Andres Duany. These worthies apparently have the Chief Planner of Scotland on board at the outset with their proposed New Eden west of Embra.

Maybe they've tempted him with an organically-grown apple to forget about being impartial (in public at least) and remembering he should be upholding national planning policy? After all they are claiming it will be a 'garden district' full of lovely green things, fluffy wabbits, cycle routes, walkable for the motorway, and with only 3,500 houses, a major sports arena, and a visitor attraction (sic) 'The Calyx' to hide amongst the trees. Did I mention jobs? Of course there will be jobs. I suppose all this greenery will require a greenkeeper. There’s one currently in need of a job at Menie. Naturally all this will benefit and regenerate the rest of Edinburgh, though quite how hasn’t been revealed at the moment.

The wee Chief Planner, he was unable to resist. Well, who could? But of course there are always fig leaves to cover his wee indiscretion. So far one fig leaf has come in the shape of Mr Swinney; no doubt if required bigger fig leaves can be called in, like the Illustrious Great Pie Eater himself, the First Minister.

Seems the Chief Planner has given Murray's eco-paradise on earth the nod at the launch of the Duany Planning Charade, one of those affairs where the public is 'consulted' and engaged in wee details like the size of the door knobs in order that they are made to think their views actually count. Not worth asking if they want the whole thing cos as you know, as Sir Ian can tell you, if they say no they are wrong. So Duany has got a nice lucrative scam sorry scheme going where he charges a king’s ransom to allow the public in to touch the hem of his garment for a week, in a smart venue, then he’ll write a report saying how much they love all he has planned for them.

Though there will now be the pretence of going through the planning system, it has been given the Seal of Approval in advance by Mr MacKinnon even before it hits Embra Cooncil.

Of course local councillors aren't too happy as they thought that they made the decisions, but we and The Donald and Sir Ian know better. And no doubt they've been having a word advising Sir David about how to do things.

So unlike The Donald, who, poor wee sensitive soul, had to suffer the heart-wrenching indignity of being turned down by the local authority elected representatives, headed up by tree-hugging eco-fascist loonie-greenie (yes I read the comments sections of the Hootsmon and P & J) Martin Ford before the government called him in the US of A, grovelled and told him it was all OK really he would be given a public inquiry in order to pass the plans for the Greatest Golf Course In The Entire Ooniverse, this one has been given the nod already.

The fact it's on a huge swathe of greenbelt has been quietly brushed under the carpet. Like SSSIs who gives a damn, apart from the loony tree hugging eco-fascists? No-one got rich by worrying about the future of the planet, and anyhow, this vast development is actually saving the planet.

Look forward so much to seeing how this one develops.

Doc Don, Sir Ian and Sir David, along with pals Mr Duany and Mr MacKinnon, they sure know how to do it. We can only sit at their feet, chant “We are not worthy”, and marvel.

Dave Thompson said...

Hello Nemesis and thank you for that lengthy response to my post! Funnily enough I am about to publish a new post with a devastating new take on the Murray development - look out for it soon!

With every best wish

Dave T

Stewart said...

Think your comments on Dundee are unfair and show a total negligence when it comes to the city? Have you been to Dundee recently? The town is on the up (and has been for the past 15 years) and already has a number of great museums such as the McManus, the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts), Discovery Point and Sensation Science Centre. I think the V&A will be a great edition to our 'derelict' waterfront and will show the world what the city has achieved in the past couple of decades.

Dundee has and continues to rise in Scotland and I feel that the V&A on the Tay will be the centre piece to the regeneration. We have a great retail sector (The Overgate is the current Scottish shopping centre of the year), we have a number of new and exciting industries developing in the city and to a large extent have rode the great wave of the current economic crises well with a number of new 4* hotels opening in the city and planning on opening in the city (Malmaisson being the latest to sign up)

I have to ask the question have you visited Dundee recently? Have you seen the city? It has long since transformed itself from the post-industrial wasteland that it was in the 70s and 80s.


Dave Thompson said...

Hello there Stewart and thanks for joining in! Yes I have been in Dundee recently - I have relatives there though I try to avoid seeing too much of them - and they don't like me much either. You can't choose them can you...

I'm sorry if you think I'm being unfair and you are probably speaking on behalf of many people in Dundee in supporting it and recognising its good points. Personally I hate it and my relatives would move out tomorrow if they could. But there is room for every opinion.

Thanks for getting in touch and best wishes

Dave T