The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 27 October 2016

Image: Getty Images

On the up

When the 210-metre Tour Montparnasse went up in Paris’s 15th arrondissment in 1973, its unsightly bulk caused an unprecedented furore that resulted in a nearly four-decade height restriction of 37 metres across central Paris. And while the limitation was eased in 2010, allowing for 50-metre residential buildings and offices more than twice that height outside the historic centre, Paris still maintains the atavistic aversion to height. But this month a government-led body has revealed seven finalists from a long list of 700 competing for a €300m rejuvenation of the infamous Tour Montparnasse, among them homegrown talent Dominique Perrault and Chinese firm Mad. The redesign, set to begin in 2019, will overhaul the exterior and update the offices, occupied by some 450 companies, to adhere to modern requirements. With any luck, the spruced-up look will soften the capital’s stance on lofty structures.

Image: Katsumi Kasahara/PA Images

Made for manga

Japanese readers have been slow to warm to the charms of the e-book. Undeterred, Amazon has just launched an e-reader specifically for Japanese manga fans. The new Japan-only edition of the Kindle Paperwhite boasts a higher-resolution display, a pinch-and-zoom facility to hone in on the details, faster page-turning and enough capacity to store 700 volumes of manga, which is good news for readers who want to keep a full set of Naruto or all 180-plus volumes of Golgo 13. The device can be used for reading regular books too. Amazon Japan will be hoping to catch up with sales for mobile phones, which have been going strong for nearly a decade. In case anyone gets any ideas about bulk buying the manga reader and selling it abroad, Amazon Japan is restricting sales to no more than five per person and only to residents of Japan.

Image: Julia Gillard

Fruity number

It’s that time of year when it’s starting to get nippy outside and apples are flooding the farmers’ markets of New York. From Hudson’s Golden Gem to Calville Blanc d’hiver, a large percentage of the fruit is produced for eating but there’s also a quiet revolution taking place in the state: apples grown for what Americans call “hard cider”. Although long popular in the UK, France and Spain, in the US it’s taken a little longer for the tipple to come back in vogue – and the culmination of its rebirth is New York Cider Week, running until 30 October with a range of events from “meet the maker” to cider-and-cheese extravaganzas.

Image: John Elk III/Getty Images

Singapore’s broad canvas

The fifth edition of the Singapore Biennale, which opens to the public today, will be a smaller affair than the expansive inaugural spectacle a decade ago. This time around the mission is to provide an international platform for more obscure contemporary visual artists under the theme An Atlas of Mirrors, which will reflect the complex overlap of culture and the arts among Asian nations. The biennale will feature exhibitions, dialogues and performances spanning eight cultural hotspots, from the Singapore Arts Museum to city park Stamford Green. This year’s edition has come together against the odds: artworks by Vietnamese artist Bui Cong Khanh were recently stranded at sea and almost did not arrive in time. But collaborative events such as the biennale are showing that Singapore is developing a distinctive identity for the region.

From Monocle 24

Australian dog walking

When Melbourne-based entrepreneur Tom Lillecrapp decided to start a dog-walking company in 2013, he envisioned more than strolling around the suburbs in a tangle of leads. He wanted to take his customers’ pooches on fully fledged adventures. He explains to Monocle’s Adrian Craddock how his company, Tom and Captain, has become a huge success.

From Monocle Films

Property prospectus: Kalamaja

Tallinn’s Kalamaja neighbourhood boasts a vibrant community of young professionals; Monocle Films visits to find out what it’s like to live and work in the Estonian capital.

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