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The architects who are taking up pulp fiction writing

Architects reach for their comic books, David Chipperfield sets his sights on Venice, and the people of St Leonards-on-Sea get very excited about a diving board

Is the recession causing escapist fantasies in architects? It seems so. This week sees the publication online of the first instalment of Looking for Spinoza: A Shooting Bad Guys Saga. This dark, retro-style comic book by Franco Falconetto is especially enjoyable for lovers of architecture, with its detailed and rather beautiful chiaroscuro studies of Italian baroque churches and piazzas appearing as stage sets for knife-fights and shoot-outs between heroes and villains.

I hear a rumour that Falconetto is none other than Francis Terry, of classical architects Quinlan & Francis Terry. Own up, Terry. "Yes, these are my drawings," he confesses. "Originally, I started them to amuse the children, but it fast became a way of amusing myself." Explain yourself, buster, I snarl. "Architects are natural comic-book writers," says Terry, singing like a canary. "It uses the same skills of imagining people in spaces in different scenarios."

Terry clearly has a second career ahead of him, as an author and illustrator of knowing pulp fiction. So, too, has Peter Murray, former editor of the RIBA Journal and co-founder of Blueprint magazine. Murray calls A Passion to Build, his online novel, "a racy tale of two architects, Harry Jamb and Frederick Shaw, who start out in practice together but, after an acrimonious 'divorce', compete furiously". The denouement is set in the distressed fictional city of Frampton-on-Tees, a coded reference to architect and historian Kenneth Frampton, where the architects slug it out "in the competition to design the buildings for the Olympic-style EuroGames". Plot and sub-plot race along "watched and reported on by the sexually voracious Rachael Dove, architectural correspondent of the Gazette". Blimey. The book will be online next week at

Murray's tongue may well be firmly in his cheek, yet he is following in a literary tradition that portrays fictional architects as egotistical, over-ambitious and perhaps even insane monsters. Think of Howard Roark, hero of Ayn Rand's blockbuster novel The Fountainhead (more than 6.5m copies sold since first published in 1943). Roark, played by Gary Cooper in the gloriously OTT film of the book, dynamites one of his own buildings after second-rate talents are brought in to complete it without him.

Then there's Malestrazza, the villainous architect in Serge Brussolo's novel Les Emmurés, who concretes his victims into the walls of a very disturbing building. In 2009, it was made into a straight-to-DVD horror starring Mischa Barton, AKA Marissa from The OC.

Venice is an architectural opera. And a soap opera, too. There were fears that Silvio Berlusconi was about to push Paolo Baratta from his role as director of the Venice Biennale in favour of his business buddy Giulio Malgara. Britain's David Chipperfield, apparently, didn't want to curate the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale if Malgara was in charge. Now, with the playboy Italian PM out and Baratta likely to stay, Chipperfield will curate the show, the most glamorous in the international architecture calendar. To date, Chipperfield's work in Venice has been for a renovation and extension to the city's San Michele cemetery. Death in Venice, you might say. He will have to think of something more life-enhancing for next year. And prontissimo too.

Ole Scheeren, former partner of Rem Koolhaas at OMA and project architect of the cinematic CCTV building in Beijing, this week revealed his design for the 268-metre Angkasa Raya tower to be built alongside the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, for Malaysian developers Sunrise Berhard. Images show a theatrical building Hollywood directors might well thrill to, with its air of Metropolis, Things to Come and The Fountainhead, in a tropical setting. The moody photograph of the architect that accompanies the press release is gloriously noir. Or possibly pulp fiction.

Finally, Quixotic Architecture has been commissioned by a group of local business people to design a new lido for St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex. With views to the cliffs of Beachy Head, the proposed Lido, currently in the planning stage, is to be clustered around and below a homage to the original diving platform designed by Sidney Little. Striking, sunny images of the project evoke a world of 1930s design and seaside bathing, all brought happily up to date – architectural escapism at its sunniest. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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