The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 1 September 2016

Image: Getty Images

Love/hate relationship

Southeast Asia has produced its fair share of polarising politicians over the years but few have been so revered on home soil and disliked abroad as Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte. His first two months in power have seen him uphold a mandate to crush crime in the Philippines, with the ensuing bloody war on drugs helping him to earn a 91 per cent national-trust rating. But this month Duterte will answer to the Philippines’ extrajudicial killings – in which 2,000 lives were claimed in just two months – to a less enthusiastic audience when he meets world leaders at the East Asia Summit on 6 September. Players in the region will be carefully monitoring the strength of US president Barack Obama’s rhetoric as he advocates his stance on human rights to this volatile but important ally.

Image: Paul Sableman

Street wise

This week Chicago got a little bit smarter. The windy city just launched the Array of Things project, featuring a series of data-collection sensors placed on streetlamp poles throughout the city. The smart sensors will collect information on temperature, atmospheric pressure, light, vibration, ambient sound intensity, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as well as air-quality components in real time – and all of it will be available to the public. The goal is not only to help residents find out which neighbourhoods have the highest quality of life or which route might be best suited for daily commutes but also to help the city’s researchers and policy-makers improve infrastructure and the overall environment of Chicago.

Image: Getty Images

Fish out of water

With the relocation of Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market set for November, the city’s new governor, Yuriko Koike, announced yesterday that she was calling for a postponement. The move from central Tokyo – where the market has been since 1935 – to a new purpose-built site out in Toyosu in Tokyo Bay has been controversial. Fish traders have been up in arms about the lack of consultation during the construction process. Among their list of complaints: the contamination of the site, which was shown to be highly toxic as far back as 2001. Although the Tokyo Metropolitan Government gave the all-clear, questions about the toxicity of the soil remain and Koike pledged to review the project during her election campaign. True to her word the governor – a former environment minister – consulted with market representatives in early August and ordered new groundwater tests. No decision will be taken until the results are examined.

Image: Felix Odell

Stiff competition

Demand for timber buildings has skyrocketed of late, as handsome forests of apartment blocks sprout up across Scandinavian and North American cities. These projects have been accompanied by concerns about depleting the world’s timber stocks but now the Forest Stewardship Council of Denmark has come up with a solution: a database filled with case studies of buildings and furniture made from tropical timber – of which there are 50,000 types – instead of the ubiquitous teak or cumaru. Among others the growing database features a Danish bridge made from super-strong azobé; a Dutch boardwalk composed of orange-tinted bilinga planks; and a UK apartment block clad in golden louro gamela. “It’s sad to see architects and project owners giving up on tropical timber in fear of contributing to deforestation and attracting bad publicity,” says Kristian Jørgensen, project co-ordinator at FSC Denmark. “Using lesser-known timber species is a new way to address sustainability.”

From Monocle 24

How do you design a front cover?

Robert Bound is joined in the studio by Monocle’s creative director Richard Spencer Powell and Adrian Shaughnessy, co-founder of independent publishing house Unit Editions, to discuss the art of making an eye-catching front cover.

From Monocle Films

Clear vision: Czech glass

Contemporary Czech designers are embracing regional Bohemian glass-making traditions while investing in new techniques to create modern products with soul. Monocle Films pays a visit to some of the country’s most clear-thinking glass alchemists.

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