The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 10 October 2015

Image: Bit Boy

Get the lowdown

It could be the world’s first underground park, cleverly refracting light from above ground to an abandoned subterranean space. Such is the plan for New York’s Lowline – a counterbalance to the much-publicised High Line – set to be housed in a former tram terminal. If negotiations go ahead it will open in 2020 but the team behind the project is keen to gauge the public’s reaction before then. This is why a “lab” will open in an abandoned market on the Lower East Side two blocks from the proposed site on 17 October. It will seek to recreate some of the conditions of the proposed park with weird and wonderful experiments featuring light and plants. The Lowline has so far received funding from more than 2,500 people.

Image: Getty Images

Taste of Tokyo

Anyone in Tokyo this weekend should make their way to Kappabashi, the neighbourhood synonymous with restaurant supplies and perfect plastic replicas of everyone’s favourite Japanese dishes. Kappabashi Dougu-gai, the area’s main shopping street, is holding its annual matsuri (festival), an opportunity to see where the city’s restaurants get their hands on everything from menu-holders to bread baskets. It’s also where chefs come to buy obscure utensils and uniforms, and where you’ll find plenty of crockery, cutlery and glassware at very reasonable prices. There will be an array of shops taking part alongside music, kids events and a giveaway of 1,000 free sanma: a classic autumn fish. The event runs until 17.00 on Monday, which is a sport-themed public holiday to commemorate the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Image: Mark Vessey

Word on the street

Next week sees the release of Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire, a book whose legend is almost secure in the literary canon despite the fact that it has not yet hit the shelves. Hallberg’s manuscript sparked one of the highest bidding wars in publishing history in 2012, eventually being secured by Knopf for a tidy $2m (€1.8m) advance and with film rights snapped up by The Social Network producer Scott Rudin a day later. So what is its allure? We’re told that the latest great US novel is in the mould of Michael Chabon and Thomas Pynchon; huge expectations for 36-year-old Professor Hallberg’s debut. It’s also striking that City on Fire’s New York is the low-rent, high-crime version of the Big Apple that its author has never known: a bleaker, sleeker and more opportunistic metropolis.

Image: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Bespoke event

Three thousand cyclists will take to the streets this weekend for the first ever Hong Kong Cyclothon, a two-day event organised by the Tourism Board. While 80 professional athletes from 15 countries will pedal 35km from Tsim Sha Tsui to Ma Wan and back, casual riders can opt for the more manageable 10km route. “Though Hong Kong is a densely populated city, it actually has many cycling opportunities,” says Mason Hung, the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s director of event and product development, who plans to make the cyclothon an annual affair. “There are plenty of leafy cycling tracks with mountain and sea views and fascinating cultural landmarks for leisure riders.” For residents of the traffic-heavy city, the occasion – for which roads will be closed to other vehicles – gives cyclists the rare opportunity to ride without having to look over their shoulders.

From Monocle 24

Vienna Design Week

Monocle reporter Alexei Korolyov takes in the sights and sounds of Vienna Design Week as it invades the Austrian capital.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: New York

New York can easily live up to its movie-star good looks but it can be a city that surprises too. Monocle has had a bureau in the Big Apple since launching in 2007, which has made us passionate about the city and its ambitions. The Monocle Travel Guide to New York, published by Gestalten, is a celebration of all that we love about this city.

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