In what could rank as one of the all-time great promotional stunts, philosopher Alain de Botton wants to build a "temple for atheists" in the City of London, a totemic structure that would lend a little spirituality to the deity-denying and, happily enough, help publicise the author's latest tome, Religion For Atheists. Three-for-two's all round!
The temple, a 46-m monolith that has a whiff of 2001: A Space Odyssey about it, is being designed by the author with architect Tom Greenall and designer Jordan Hodgson for an undisclosed location in the Square Mile, and could be the first of many across the UK. The tower would be dedicated to the notion of "perspective" — something which Mr de Botton, who once responded to a New York Times reviewer who wrote an unflattering book critique with the words, "I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make" — should probably know about.
Mr De Botton is nothing if not busy. Having set up the School of Life, in recent years he's been found meandering around Heathrow, uttering strange priapic comments about the Shard and promoting his posh holiday-pad fad Living Architecture, the latest incarnation of which is the Room For London on the South Bank. But his new venture, should it ever go ahead, promises to leave the capital with a more permanent reminder of his endeavours.