The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 3 March 2016

Image: Kzaral

Natural world

The Japanese government is eyeing up a new Unesco World Heritage listing for Japan in 2018: it wants the Amami and Ryukyu islands in the far south of the country to be registered as natural assets. Unesco has said that Japan will need to do more to look after the environment in the area, which might explain why there is talk of a new national park in Okinawa to protect a threatened bird and a swathe of subtropical forest. The 17,300-hectare national park – tentatively called Yanbaru – would be Japan’s 33rd and the government is also expanding the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park at the southern tip of the Okinawan island chain. While this flurry of activity is welcome, some might argue that it doesn’t make amends for the environmental damage caused by the construction of a new US airbase in Henoko Bay in the northern part of Okinawa Island.

Image: Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s primary

Puerto Rico, which holds its Republican primary vote for this year’s US presidential nominations on Sunday, is an oddity in US politics. A commonwealth of the US since 1952, its residents are US citizens but cannot vote in a federal election; they can, however, vote if they are US residents. A referendum in 2012 showed support on the island for it to become the 51st state in the union. A debt crisis and a swiftly slumping economy have pushed many Puerto Ricans to the mainland – particularly to the swing state of Florida, which is likely to play a pivotal role on election day on 8 November. The island’s primary can be overlooked during a presidential election cycle but both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be taking it seriously, hoping to cement their front-runner status on Sunday.

Image: Lit Ma

Growing green

Responding to the decimation of green space in his hometown of Ho Chi Minh City, architect Vo Trong Nghia is known for creating sustainable architecture with bamboo. This week Vo kicked off the 2016 Asia Pacific Architecture Forum in Brisbane by unveiling “Green Ladder”, a grid-like bamboo structure with a transparent ceiling that beats off the heat and offers clear aerial views. Similarly subtropical, Brisbane is also facing urban-growth challenges as planners strive to build up its inner city while maintaining a clean, green feel. Although we’re unlikely to see much bamboo in Brisbane’s urban make-up, the forum and installation are exposing Aussie architects to a growing movement in Southeast Asia. Thinking modern but incorporating traditional construction techniques is an emerging trend that we hope to see much more of.

Image: Roberto Chamorro

Shining armory

The Armory Show – arguably New York’s premier arts fair – opens to the public on Thursday. Expect the same frenzied mixture of overseas buyers, venerable arts institutions and curious punters at the West Side Piers venue, where it has been located since 2001. “We have always been the American art fair,” says Benjamin Genocchio, the show’s executive director. “We have groups from 170 museums and arts organisations from around the world attending.” Genocchio argues that the fair – which focuses on contemporary and modern – trades off New York’s arts heritage, a vastly different model to Art Basel Miami Beach. Along with a spotlight on contemporary African art for the 2016 edition, highlights include Jonathan Schipper’s must-see “Slow Motion Car Crash”. No prizes for guessing what that is.

From Monocle 24

Image: Il Sereno

Sereno Hotels

Samy Ghachem, MD of St Barths-based Sereno Hotels, explains how and why the company is expanding to Lake Como. Plus: he gives us his top management tips for this week’s How I Manage.

From Monocle Films

The art of getting lost

The US military has long used a camouflage pattern designed according to the type of terrain in which it will be used. Now a Brooklyn-based company has persuaded it to try a new way of (not) seeing things.

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