The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 25 August 2016

Image: Eduardo Dreizzen/Alamy

Bark and bite

The Argentinian economy may be spluttering, people might be complaining about high food prices and president Mauricio Macri may have received a Supreme Court rebuff over his government’s attempt to hike gas prices but it’s the fate of a palm tree that is making headlines. It’s not any old palm, however, but one located in the Casa Rosada presidential palace and originally planted in 1904. The Yatay tree died through lack of water, according to Clarín newspaper, although three of its cousins are showing signs of recuperation. The causes are, of course, blamed on politics, with the paper citing “the poor state the Casa Rosada was left in after 12 years of Kirchnerist government”, a dig at former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband Néstor, who damaged the country with their populist policies.

Image: Ed Norton/Getty Images

Thai high

Next Monday will mark the opening of Bangkok’s tallest building: the MahaNakhon. German-born architect Ole Scheeren’s 77-storey mixed-use tower situated in the city’s Central Business District will combine homes with hospitality and retail. The Thai monolith’s terraced midriff – which, from afar, makes it look as if the glass-coated skyscraper is dissolving – is as functional as it is beautiful, providing residents with well-balanced indoor and outdoor living spaces, while expressing Scheeren’s ambition to encourage them to engage with the cityscape. Scheeren’s take on the high-rise is another visionary feat for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture alum, who is reimagining the skylines of major Asian cities from Beijing to Singapore with projects that are pushing major Asian developers to be more daring in their approach.

Image: Getty Images

Park that idea

For all its architectural splendour Paris often lacks in urban greenery, with the nearest verdant spread a Métro journey away. To tackle the problem, mayor Anne Hidalgo announced an urban regeneration plan in July, which will include three new seven-hectare parks in the 15th and 18th arrondissements, and this month her office deferred the power of design to the residents of Paris. A new app offers individuals the chance to design the park of Chapelle Charbon to their own tastes, from the number of fountains and benches to wi-fi hotspots and kiosks as well as suggestions of how to integrate (or bury) the disused railway lines. But resources are limited and the plans must be realistic; users have until 30 September to submit their blueprints, a handful of which will inspire the planners when works begin in 2018.

Image: Mike Greenslade/Alamy

On screen drama

Sydney’s cinema scene is in a state of flux. Recent decades have seen dozens of multiplexes shut their doors – there are only two remaining in central Sydney – and now the city has been hit by news that Imax Darling Harbour, which boasts the world’s largest screen (measuring 30 metres by 36 metres), will close for renovation for the next three years. But there’s a ray of light among all these darkened screens: Palace Cinemas, the acclaimed Australian production company, has announced that it is opening two complexes in Sydney in the next year – one in the inner-city suburb of Chippendale, the other in bustling Double Bay. Palace has a far better pedigree than most of its rival juggernauts and these new developments – with 14 and 10 screens apiece – will broadcast mainstream flicks as well as a mouthwatering line-up of international and art-house films. Sydneysiders, get your popcorn ready.

From Monocle 24

Dark and stormy

Entrepreneur Mark Jennings explains what happens when your business luck runs out – and the best ways to bounce back.

From Monocle Films

South Korean golf

With membership fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, clubhouses designed by star architects and troupes of attentive young female caddies, golf is the ultimate statement of wealth in South Korea and business is booming. Monocle’s correspondent Danielle Demetriou talks about her journey around South Korea’s most coveted golf courses.

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