The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 26 February 2016

Image: Edwin Rios

Book binding

The Taiwanese city of Tainan is championing an expansive light-flooded library in a bid to unite its booming population. Numbers in Tainan have swelled since Tainan County and Tainan City merged in 2010 to create one special municipality and the existing public library has been left unable to accommodate the rise in readers. This week the local government unveiled the winning design for a replacement institute: a wood-and-stone behemoth masterminded by Dutch architects and library guru Mecanoo – which is also behind the New York Public Library renovation – and local firm Mayu. The design, to be brought to life by late 2018, elegantly combines form with function: the top floor of the three-storey building is covered in a “skin” of louvres that filters light, reduces heat and, when viewed from a distance, forms a spectacular-looking map of ancient Taiwan. With a 200-seat auditorium and a clutch of public courtyards, as well as room for 600,000 books, Tainan is cleverly tapping into the power of the library to bring people together.

Image: Anna and Michal

Fishy goings-on?

Tensions over the relocation of the world’s most famous fish market came to a head in Tokyo this week. Project Tsukiji, a group that represents wholesalers and workers at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, held a press conference calling for Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe to answer their questions about everything from soil contamination to insufficient workspace. The wholesale market at Tsukiji, which opened in its current location between the Sumida River and Ginza in 1935, is due to move to purpose-built premises in the reclaimed area of Toyosu in November. It has long been known that the Toyosu site was contaminated with industrial waste. The Tokyo government insists the clean-up is complete but opponents say it hasn’t carried out all the necessary tests and that results have been falsified. Construction issues aside, many are simply unhappy that the market – a huge tourist attraction – is moving away from Tsukiji.

Image: Nadim Bou Habib

Bad timing

The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism’s new ad campaign, ‘Rise Above Lebanon’, has launched at a tricky time. Intended in part to woo Gulf travellers back to the country with soaring views over cedar forests, the campaign was released just as the UAE imposed an outright ban on travel to Lebanon that saw other Gulf countries warn their citizens off. Lebanon failed to publicly condemn a mob attack on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran in January and the Saudis cried foul that the hand of Iran-supported militia Hezbollah has too strong a grip on the Lebanese state. With Saudi to cut €3.6bn in aid to the troubled country, this comes as another sucker punch to its economy.

Image: Getty Images

March on, Milan

Day two at Milan Fashion Week was bookended by Max Mara’s Dada-inspired coats and bouclé bodies and Moschino’s colourful creations. In addition to Fendi and Prada shows in between, there were a number of eye-catching presentations, including Italian ski-brand Rossignol, which premiered its first womenswear collection, featuring metallics, wool and fur that can be worn on and off-piste. “When people say there is no place for you in the crowded market it’s up to you to move away from the crowd,” says Rossignol CEO Alessandro Locatelli. “As a market leader in skis we’re never going to make denim jeans or cocktail dresses but I think people want to see change.”

From Monocle 24

Image: David Davies

The secret to a happy city, part one

There’s one element that is crucial when creating a healthy city: understanding how people interact with the built environment. UCL’s Nick Tyler spoke to us about the ways our brains respond to stimuli on the street and how vital it is to design a city that people enjoy.

From Monocle Films

Spread the word

There is a weight of passion, wit, intellect and fun to be found on Italy’s screens, coming from its speakers and in its print. Monocle Films delves into the quirks of the country’s news and entertainment and finds the best of its leaders and merchants.

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