The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 9 January 2016

Image: Doublespace Photography

Style and substance

Toronto’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence is determined to expel the image of engineers as calculator-punching automatons devoid of any sense of style by infusing design principles into the education process. The newly built institution at York University features a shimmery façade composed of triangular tiles laid out in a wavy, abstract format. Inside, lecture halls have been completely eradicated and replaced by shared social spaces. “We’ve flipped the classroom so instructors interact with students in flexible group settings to remove barriers between them,” says Paul Stevens, principal of ZAS Architects, who masterminded the concept. By emphasising and promoting creativity and innovation, the hope is to foster a new generation of renaissance engineers with an entrepreneurial outlook.

Image: Washington Grasslands/Iwan Baan

Branch line

Singapore lives up to its nickname of the Garden City and it’s continuing the legacy with plans for a new 24km-long urban park that will traverse the city along former rail lines. Proposed by Japanese firm Nikken Sekkei, the green space will include areas for rock climbing, urban gardening and wildlife watching. While the elevated tracks once acted as an inadvertent divider, the design will aim to seamlessly link different pockets of the city-state. The park is said to be inspired by the success of New York’s High Line but that does Singapore a disservice: it has been making efforts to blend green space and urbanism since the 1960s.

Image: AL_A

TLC at the V&A

The first portion of 2016 is all about bricks and mortar at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. While UK architect Amanda Levete adds a striking asymmetric extension to the Exhibition Road entrance, the London-based Carmody Groarke studio will fiddle with the innards of the fourth floor to create a members’ room to sit above Levete’s newly formed ceramic-tiled courtyard. The studio, founded by architects Kevin Carmody and Andrew Groarke, beat out sundry other firms – including SHH and David Kohn Architects – to scoop up the commission. Carmody Groarke’s track record of creating sympathetic spaces that are a pleasure to inhabit was no doubt a winning factor. The new members’ room is slated for 2017.

Image: Getty Images

Lip service

Times Square is hardly a private spot, even though it has been the setting for many intimate moments. But next month the bustling square will be offering a romantic refuge by hosting an installation of kissing booths, called “Heart of Hearts”. In honour of Valentine’s Day, architectural collaboration Collective-LOK has designed nine mirrored hearts that will be part of a three-metre-tall ring, creating diamond-shaped booths on the inside. The design will reflect couples as well as the crowds and lights of the surroundings, making the installation simultaneously private and public. The winning design was chosen by the Times Square Arts programme and is the latest edition of its annual call to design firms to tender site-specific creations for cupid’s holiday.

From Monocle 24

First films

We look back at the debut films of some of cinema’s most distinctive voices, taking a retrospective close-up of the journey to becoming an auteur. Those featured include Michelangelo Antonioni’s Story of a Love Affair (1950), Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire (1953) and Carol director Todd Haynes’ 1991 breakthrough.

From Monocle Films

Novel ideas: Tsutaya

As the big media-store chains disappear, Japan’s most successful book, music and magazine seller has opened a project that challenges everyone. We visit the floors of a refreshed retail landscape.

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