The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 22 February 2017

Image: Alamy

Island revival

As the French presidential elections loom, many are carefully watching the polls and François Hollande is eyeing his legacy. In an attempt to leave a mark on Paris, the outgoing president is planning to revive the Île de la Cité in order to make it more homely and appealing to residents. Though the island on the Seine is home to Notre Dame, there’s not much everyday life in the area so Hollande asked architect Dominique Perrault to come up with a plan to transform it. His vision, revealed earlier this month in an exhibit, includes introducing a waterfront promenade, public squares, pavements and a few too many glass panes for our taste. With no firm plan for launching the refurbishment, however, the Île de la Cité’s fate – and Hollande’s legacy – remain nebulous.

China’s football pitch

News of a famous foreign footballer landing in China is now everyday newspaper fodder but superstar Ronaldinho will be carrying a briefcase along with his boot bag on a visit to Hainan this week. The ex-Brazil player and recently appointed ambassador for his old club Barcelona is accompanying the Catalan giant’s president to announce the launch of a football academy and museum on the grounds of Mission Hills, China’s largest golf resort. Football is booming in China after the country’s president and fan Xi Jinping announced his goal to host – and ultimately win – the World Cup. Mission Hills is one of the sports and leisure businesses eager to tap into the football craze as golf falls out of official favour and courses close nationwide. If Donald Trump cares about diplomacy he should start practising his keepie-uppie skills: his first meeting with Xi is unlikely to be over 18 holes at Mar-a-Lago.

Image: Alamy

Liquid goldmine

Those with a sweet tooth will be cheered by the news that Québec, the word’s largest producer of maple syrup, is expanding production of Canada’s most appetising export. Over the next two years five million spigots (the taps that drain the syrup from maple trees) will be added to the 43 million already in use across the province’s maple forests. This is expected to boost the record-breaking 73 million kilograms of maple syrup produced in Canada last year – of which more than 90 per cent was tapped in Québec. The move will be a boon to output but it’s also recognition that other maple-syrup markets are challenging Québec’s dominance in the sector. The New York State Maple Producers Association, for example, claims that its share of the global market has grown between five and 10 per cent annually over the past 10 years. Here’s hoping that the new taps will sweeten the deal for Québec’s maple-syrup producers in the years to come.

Image: Getty Images

High flyer

Zürich Airport is a veteran of international airport rankings, with a resident spot in Skytrax’s Top 10. Yet as prospects of expansion are limited, its operator Flughafen Zürich AG (FZAG) has had to find alternative ways to grow. Besides The Circle, an ambitious commercial development, it’s branching out and sharing its expertise abroad. Most recently the Swiss company has left its footprint on Belo Horizonte Tancredo Neves International Airport in Brazil. The company flexed its placemaking muscles to transform the airport into a destination in its own right: the car park has given way to a spacious food and retail mile and FZAG plans to further increase non-flight businesses to more than 40 per cent as a counterweight to the volatile aviation industry. Belo Horizonte won’t be the last airport FZAG lends a hand to; the company’s goal is to grow its international business almost threefold in the next few years.

From Monocle 24

We meet Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava

Earlier this month Hong Kong-owned developer Knight Dragon announced plans for an €9.8bn urban-development scheme that will completely transform London’s Greenwich Peninsula. Monocle’s David Michon met Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in London to speak about his latest project and his public-spirited design philosophy and to ask why he’s always wanted to leave a mark on the Big Smoke.

From Monocle Films

Tasmania: buoyant business

Monocle Films meets a world-class ship builder that’s staying afloat despite being adrift in far-flung Tasmania. Incat’s prized vessels have set records for speed but it’s the island’s skilled workers that keep the company on an even keel.

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