Tuesday 15 April 2014

Reinventions, Inventions, Disinventions 7

They can put a man on the moon, but they can't build enough women's toilets.

Women's toilets with room for a loo, a paper holder, a bin, and a visitor. Architects, please remember that women have to partially undress, and that some of us are taller and larger than average. It's hard to disrobe when your arms are clamped to your sides. Oh, and give us somewhere to queue in privacy. (Would benches be too much to ask for?) And build two ladies' toilets for every one gents.

mug saucers

rechargeable electric bus

ability to turn off autocorrect, predictive text

map of laptop plugpoints
(is there an app for that?)

luminous roads to save on street lighting (being tested in the Netherlands)

clothes designed for women with “enhanced” figures (and did I mention that some of us are taller than average?)

virtual keyboard on a tablet that’s haptic and actually feels like a keyboard and can be used by a touch typists (We type by touch, you know.)

laptops get touch screens, tablets get stands and keyboards

new etiquette for new technology (Don't check your phone at dinner.)
new etiquette for new situations (Don’t ask transsexuals nosy questions.)

cafes in libraries (happening)

subsidised house insulation to avoid deaths from hypothermia

app that listens to your conversation and dictates a response through an earpiece
chatting app that comes up with random conversational opening/continuation (pretend you’re checking emails)

posters in the tube and on billboards teaching basic sign language (hello, goodbye, bad, good). Ditto Welsh.

cabinet with small labelled drawers for storing your chargers and connectors. (Either in clear plastic or reclaimed wood with brass fittings. Or shabby chic style with stuck-on vintage chintz.)

cabinet with labelled drawers for storing replacement lightbulbs (You now need a different one for every lamp. You could also store notes of where these bulbs are available.)

remote central locking for house
aircon in the tube, lifts at all stations

A CD of decent, non-theological Christmas songs. (So Here It Is Merry Christmas, Carol of the Bells, Abba Happy New Year, Beatles Happy Christmas War is Over, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland), All I want for Christmas is You, Snow is Falling All Around Me, Wham's Last Christmas, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Xmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Michael Jackson))

A CD of non-theological, not in-copyright Christmas ambient music – wordless children going aaaaa on chords, glockenspiels, harps, glass harmonicas…

Bikes in the hallway
ruin the feng shui. Bike box in front garden? Executive homes built with bike garage? Internal solution if you don’t want to block light from your front windows? Hang them from pegs round the room, Shaker-style?

Stop daytime TV presenters leering and tittering at any mention of alcohol.

Teach EFL to all school students.

New towns? Lay out streets, build libraries, schools and doctors’ surgeries, shopping centres, lay on services – then sell off plots and let people build houses to their own designs, with safety restrictions but no style restrictions.

classic Flickr

triangular buildings that fit an awkward plot

small bracket shelves for your nicknacks

observation cars and lounges on trains
software without a black background
London squares – build some more on the original pattern (also Italian piazzas)

round windows
that keyboard shortcut that took you to the top of a web page

moderators (for online conferences and comments pages)

watering wine (old French practice)

monasteries and convents to care for the homeless, the poor, the sick, the disabled and the lonely

flannel sheets (Warmer than linen. Pensioners used to like them.)

classic clothes and shoes – manufacturers must have the original patterns

tailored coats and jackets (and briefcases) A crowd of people in baggy anoraks and backpacks looks so untidy.

Report recommends unearthing London’s “lost” rivers to avoid flooding. Let’s find the Hackney Brook. (April 2014)

American homes have a “mud room” – a second entrance where you can leave boots and coats
Don’t build new towns or “developments”, build a few houses or blocks of flats where needed.

In flood areas, pave your ground floor. Or make your ground floor the garage and live upstairs. (But apparently the floodwater comes up through the sewage system... Solution: emergency Elsans.)

Reflood the Fens and the Somerset Levels, turn Ely and Glastonbury back into islands, abandon some coastal towns and roads.

Plant belts of trees on hillsides to stop flooding in valleys (prevented by environment minister who is paying farmers to remove trees from hills). Also stop straightening and dredging rivers so that the water flows faster into towns and floods them. Reinstate silt and meanders. (Being done elsewhere in world. George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Revive the London overground – they have???

countries (re-Balkanise, split, secede, de-federate)
Kurdistan (Kurds in Iran and Syria are getting there)

Do something with bits of green space between blocks of flats, communal gardens. (They’re getting a facelift, but for years they were just there for show and nobody used them.)

Knock down unused drying grounds and coalbins and build flats (happened in Homerton with a scary underground garage).

They’re reviving the idea that you can control your heating from your phone (it senses where you are). It saves you money, apparently. Do you otherwise leave all the radiators on when you’re out? Who does that? And they’re reviving radiators that you can control individually – like we used to have in the 70s.

Microsoft Word: Opened documents to appear on the screen where they were when last saved, not on top of each other without even the edge showing, so that you have to move the top one to see what's underneath. (Also, we'd like to select an open document by clicking on it anywhere.)

ring roads
Anglican vestments
taps that turn off and on in different directions (Who's brilliant idea was that?)

More here, and links to the rest.


  1. Rechargeable electric buses are already running on routes around the Waterloo area (and in several other countries).

  2. A wide range of ideas there.
    The knick-knacks would be best disposed of to Oxfam, really. There was a brief fashion (1960s? 70s?) for special box shelves, slats of wood criss-crossing at right angles to form small shelf-ettes or cubes to put ornaments on? (I am finding this v difficult to describe but could draw one! Two wooden squares interlocking...)

  3. I remember them! Rather made of ticky-tacky and tended to collapse, but a good idea. I still have one cube left of a cube shelving system. And let's bring back room dividers...