Monday, 10 July 2017

Design by Committee

More than enough concrete barriers on half the road. Committee approved work on Friday night - not planned or advised. 

It might not shock you to know that I do not play well with others. At school, group work nearly always gave me the shits, cos I just didn't like relying on someone else to do a bit of the work, and if I am gonna go for full disclosure, what I really didn't like was that when kids did their bit, they didn't do it the way I wanted it done, or the way I would have done it, or the way I told 'em to do it. If it was a project that I was interested in, I could be a little pushy, or maybe a little bit more than a little, yeh perhaps even Genghis Khan type pushy.

And I just don't know anyone who happily rolls over and allows adjustments to plans that they hold dear.

Painters collaborating beggar my belief. It's not common, but occasionally I'll see a painting accredited to 2 artists, and I just cant's see how that would work. 'You do that corner, I'll start over here and we'll meet in the middle'? or maybe 'I'll do the sky and you do the trees and perhaps we can get a sign writer in to do the letters on the street signs'? Cos even if they mix up the paints together and agree the colours and the context, what happens about individual style and technique and personal preference?

And architects, they can't do their best work in collaboration can they? A single vision is surely gonna make a more cohesive design. I am not saying that they can't ask colleagues about roofing materials and such like, but if someone does the west wing and someone else does the north wing, I reckon the whole thing will look a little like a platypus. You know, a bit of this and a bit of that, and it might be interesting but all up pretty ugly.

But I guess committees are a necessary evil today when most big projects are public purse funded. I mean who would put their hand up to be solely responsible for the design and outcome of a public project costing millions? That'd be one very brave, very thick skinned soul, yep TEFLON come to mind.

So instead, a committee is formed:
A Designer
An Engineer
A Feasibility Study person
An Accountant
A Statistician
A Herd of Health and Safety Gurus
A Union Rep
A Big Boys' Toys truck driver
A person with a shovel
A Gun toting body guard dressed as a police officer.
A Community Liason Officer
A Bullshit Spinner
And maybe a person who likes a flower.

And you gather all these folk in a better than average sized hall and give 'em a few big sheets of butchers' paper and a fat felt pen and say 'Go to it,  design me a road'. You break out the first of the cash from the public purse and you feed and water 'em all while they fiddle with the felt pens and fight over the small print.

They finally come up with a half arsed design - and I'm taking a liberty using the term design, which accommodates the needs of one legged, blind, bisexual platypuses first and foremost and then somewhere down the list, perhaps cars, and lastly, very lastly, no who am I kidding, no attention to the aesthetic is ever agreed, or even considered. Yep an ugly as a hat full of arseholes design is agreed, but the finer details are gonna be worked out as they go along, cos there are no more croissants and it's happy hour at the local so here's cheers huh?

Mistakes are routinely made and no wonder really when tape measures seem to be Noah's equipment and theodolites are passe because they are not nearly as accurate as say pacing out a number of heel to toe boot lengths and marking spots with a bit of spray paint. Yep that'll be good enough. And if, as it happens you have to dig up a hole 2 dozen times or a huge chunk of concrete is built in the wrong place, it doesn't matter cos someone else is paying for it, and in any case the whole project has been excellent for the economy cos scores upon scores of folk have been employed and are no longer scunging off the dole, instead the public money they are grabbing is paid to 'em because they are standing around leaning on a shovel and generally slowing progress down.

But I digress. The overall aesthetic is what I am wondering about.

The road widening is just fucking ugly, and the vast expanse of concrete and bitumen will create enough heat nine months of the year, that there should have been some sort of air heat transfer grabbing energy thing installed, or at least maybe some public saunas could have been installed on every corner. At the very least there will need to be health warning signs suggesting that old folk only cross at night to avoid exposure to heat and sun. I am guessing the Elf and Safety folk are already onto this. There's gonna be more than 8 lanes of traffic, and long bus lanes in both directions and there's already a 2 metre wide concrete walk path or maybe it's a bike track who knows, I guess it depends if a biker was more vocal on the committee than a person pushing a stroller or a wheel chair. And all of this in the suburbs of a smallish city of less than half a million people.

Yep this committee of people have not yet finished spending our money, but it's clear to me that there is no cash left to make a silk purse out of this pig's ear.