Friday 13 December 2013

Inventions and Reinventions 6

coffee bars
that stay open late
dry bars
dance halls and ballroom dancing schools

(like the Canaan Trust, Simon Community and Emmaus)
dog licences
woollen combinations

front porches
(for sitting out on, and holding "stoop sales")
walls for sitting on
as “focal point for room”
kitchen as room you live in with large wooden table and chintz sofas
cottages: just call them “small-scale starter homes”
boarding houses: they were banned in the US because of density laws, zoning, blah blah…
wood-panelled rooms (for insulation, warmth and that 70s sauna look)
sliding glass doors between rooms (so you can turn one large room into two and vice versa)

keyboard shortcut to take you to the top of a web page

compasses set into pavements outside station exits. More NEWS indicators.
secretaries – to read, sort and answer a company's email

play streets
(shut streets for a few hours a week so that kids can play).
mirrors to beam sun into deep mountain valleys (dreamed up 100 years ago, activated now in Italy and Norway)

coffee mornings
gallantry (A gentleman does not call Julia Gillard a “witch”, or respond to a school Fem Soc with #DPMO – “don’t piss me off”.)

car pools
smaller cars

tiny one-person car drawing a train of one-person podules (They're called quadpods.)

German trains have tables hinged in the middle so that you can fold them in half and easily get into your seat.

Let's reflood the Aral Sea.

And Native Americans should move back into national parks.

London's tube will run 24 hours at the weekend from 2015.

Amazon to offer cheap/free e-book versions of any physical book you buy (or have bought) from them. (Sept 2013)

"Around Warwickshire they do something called Living Cemeteries where they don't cut them back, let them grow a little wilder with local green things like grass and plants and the occasional sheep." (EW)

Why don't laptop lids have photovoltaic panels built in? (

Right, I need a 24 hour cafe in London, with good wi-fi and half decent air con. I don't think such a beast exists. Someone prove me wrong? (

SOAS students use radio drama to address sexual health and gender equality in Ghana

apes’ rights
(and dolphins', and…)

mobile school
that moves with refugees/travellers
philosophy classes in schools
modernist retirement homes and shared ownership flats
flattering ambient light
that turns on at the door

app showing the nearest toilet

TV remote app
tablet stand
for watching TV and films
shorthand to text app for tablets
(write on screen with stylus)

decent classic movie channel
in the UK
catch-up evolution classes
exercise bikes connected to the national grid
heated car tyres

random product button
for Amazon
pavement cleaning robots
Education Maintenance Allowance

mail pickup points – the privatised post office can take over empty shops
child-height sinks in primary schools (and elsewhere)

separate schools for kids who get bullied. And teach them a martial art. Because it “gives them confidence”, of course.

half-depth kitchen units
with glass doors. They don’t block the light, and you can see to the back of the cupboard whether the door is open or closed. And you have more space to work on your worktop.

open-topped buses for summer use
(if TfL can’t get it together to provide buses with enough windows that open properly.)

architectural re-enactment:
Participants research, build and furnish houses from the past.

unusual religious missions: to clubbers or motorway drivers. Provide stalls with tea and sandwiches; preach road serenity in service stations. (The Samaritans go to festivals.)

fit all buses with free auto-airconditioning (Yes, windows. Or how about a Ventaxia?)

Repurpose church towers
as mobile phone masts and internet cafes. (happening)
Repurpose farms to grow niche crops (cucamelons, goji berries). Happening, says James Wong.

Instead of bagging your baby a gmail account, give him or her a unique name. Makes Googling easier, too.

Instead of making kids sit down at a table and eat cereal with a spoon, why not give them a packet of healthy tasty snacks in the shape of animals and a box drink (milk) to take to school with them?

Collect uneaten food from restaurants/out of date food from supermarkets and distribute to the poor.

Regrow the Caledonian Forest (over the Scottish Highlands) and stock it with the original fauna (lynx, bear, musk ox, reindeer, wolves). Do the same for the Welsh temperate rainforest.

Get the Chinese to build us an imitation Paris here instead of the tincan modernism and pseudo cottages with tiny windows which are all we can come up with. (Tiny windows may save on heating, but you'd have to keep the lights on all the time.) Repeat with Vienna, Linz, Mykonos etc.

Tax the ridiculous fashion of the moment (hair powder, crinolines, high heels).

Stop mowing roadside verges.


empty homes
level crossings
airline seats on trains
, and first and second class
charitable status for public schools
actors pretending to be Santa Claus
unflattering ceiling lights
cellars and basements (so that nobody can keep kidnap victims in them – or bodies in freezers)
websites that change their design so that they look more like an app and work less well
dogs in cities

Energy is so expensive – but we’re still “knocking through” and turning several rooms into “a nice space” for “open-plan living”. (Apparently schools keep adding walls to open-plan classrooms.)

"Perhaps HFR is one of those innovations that might have to be discreetly de-innovated." (Peter Bradshaw on Smaug, Guardian Dec 2013)

More here, and links to the rest.

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