The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 7 October 2016

Image: PA Images

On the retreat?

The scale of the shake-up in Turkey’s institutions is becoming clear: figures released by the Turkish Armed Forces this week show that its roll-call of personnel is down from more than 518,000 in June to about 355,000 today. The dramatic decline is attributed to the suspension of soldiers and military top brass since the failed coup and a restructuring of the forces that brings sections of it directly under government control. It comes just as Turkey needs to show that it’s still got muscle. On the eve of the US-led coalition’s impending push to retake Mosul from Isis, Ankara is keen to make its presence felt, while a multitude of forces, including various sectarian militias, vie to secure the city.

Brightest minds

A new art installation is shedding light on thousands of vacant buildings in the Capital Region of upstate New York. The area, which comprises the cities of Albany, Troy and Schenectady, lost a significant chunk of its population over the past few decades as manufacturing jobs began to disappear. During the months of October and November the windows of about 300 vacant buildings across the cities will be illuminated to raise awareness of the issue in a new installation called “Breathing Lights”. Part of a winning proposal by architect Barb Nelson and artist Adam Frelin for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, the installation will see LED lights diffuse a warm glow designed to mimic “the gentle rhythm of human breathing”. The project is coupled with months of programming, including youth media projects, building reclamation clinics, gallery talks and policy discussions aimed at regenerating the community.

Image: Jonathan van der Knaap

Blue skies ahead

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is wrapping up its triennial assembly at its Montréal HQ today. Among the issues discussed was a proposal aimed at capping emissions from international flights – which last year produced 781 million tonnes of CO2 – effectively making the industry carbon neutral by 2020. The pact, which had the support of just 58 nations at the start of the assembly, has now been embraced by 100 of the 191 member nations of the ICAO. “The eyes of the world are now focused squarely on the ICAO for concrete action to make our industry even greener and more efficient,” says ICAO council president Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. About 90 per cent of global air traffic is now under the purview of ICAO State Action Plans to make good on the pact.

Image: Getty Images

In memory of Bing Thom

Canada lost one of its pre-eminent architects this week when Bing Thom passed away at the age of 75 during a visit to Hong Kong. He trained under Pritzker prize-winner Fumihiko Maki and modernist architect Arthur Erickson before establishing his own firm in 1981. Guided by the conviction that architecture should never lose its human element, Thom masterminded numerous landmarks, including the Arena Stage at the Mead Centre for American Theatre in Washington and more recently the University of Chicago Centre in Hong Kong, a prison turned educational institute. “When most people look at a new building they see the shell but they forget about the turtle. The turtle and the shell are not separate,” he told Monocle in an interview last month. “When a building is finished it is at its birth. It’s the interaction between the form and people that creates architecture. The architect’s responsibility is to get the foundation right.”

From Monocle 24

Image: Polar

Paul Zimmerman and cycling in Hong Kong

Cycling has a solid base of enthusiasts in Hong Kong but for many it’s still not a common mode of transport. Will it ever be possible for the city to have a Citi Bike or Vélib’ equivalent? We speak to Paul Zimmerman, a Dutch-born district councillor who has lived in the city since 1984.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Drinking & Dining

Our new book is for anybody who enjoys food but can do without the foam, fuss and trickery that it’s often served with. Monocle Films gives you a taste of the 340-page guide, which covers everything from where to drink and dine around the world to how to whip up the perfect roast chicken. Available now online and in The Monocle Shop.

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