Thursday 27 April 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 27/4/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Flight of fancy

After a few years of apparent reprieve, Italian flag-carrier Alitalia has hit another turbulent patch. But this time, as losses balloon, the airline may not be able to find its way out. A rescue plan that would have granted much-needed private investment but would also have led to wage reductions and almost 1,600 job losses was vehemently rejected by the airline’s 12,000 employees. Shareholders meet today to decide what the future holds but the prospect of going into administration is looking the likeliest option. Over the decades the Italian government has done its best to stubbornly protect its national airline but prime minister Paolo Gentiloni maintains that nationalisation is now off the cards. Back in 2014, Etihad swooped in to take a 49 per cent share – but without a new rescuer waiting in the wings, Alitalia’s days are numbered.

Image: Getty Images


Throwing shade

In Boston the concept of a shadow is, well, casting something of a shadow. Current legislation restricts the height of buildings around Boston Common and the Public Garden to avoid those kicking back on the grass having their sunlight cut out. But the mayor wants to have the law amended to allow a company to buy a property that looks onto the green space. Millennium Partners plans to knock down the disused garage space and construct a gleaming new skyscraper that will rise to about 235 metres. Some councillors are up in arms but others can see the benefits – and it has something to do with the price tag of $153m (€141m) that Millennium is offering to pay the city. The money could be used to make upgrades to the park and also be invested in some of the city’s more underprivileged areas.


Page turners

According to the hype leading up to the annual Singapore Art Book Fair, which starts today, the city-state is in the middle of a publishing boom of cool independent magazines. There may actually be some truth in it. Now in its fourth year, the event showcasing contemporary-art titles and magazines mostly from Singapore and Asia is seeing a rush of bold young creators jumping into the art-publishing industry. “We’re seeing a lot more [exhibitors] who are very young; students in school wanting to produce their own thing,” says festival director Renee Ting. It is a promising sign for the nation’s small creative scene, which just a few years ago was suffering from a dearth of quality homegrown print. “The fair is a great platform to launch to an even mix of foreign and local readers,” says Jiahui Tan, founder of Singaporean design firm Fable, which is releasing the second issue of his independent magazine Virus at the fair.

Image: PA Images


Breath of fresh air

Just how green is your city? That’s the question that researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab are attempting to answer with Treepedia, a new initiative created in collaboration with the World Economic Forum that documents the amount of greenery in major metropolises. Using data collected via Google Maps and its street-view platform, the researchers have created an interactive map of each city that highlights its greenest (and brownest) spots. It is an eminently useful tool to assist urban planners and citizens with targeting the parts of their cities that need attention; after all, the positive impact of greenery on public health and wellbeing is well documented. Each city has also been awarded an overall “green index” score. At the top of the tree – perhaps unsurprisingly – is Singapore, followed by Sydney and Vancouver. Meanwhile those in Paris, Quito and São Paulo – which recorded the lowest scores of the lot – had better get their gardening gloves on.

The Next Web

This week, we profile The Next Web, a popular media brand based in the Netherlands. Founded in 2006, it runs one of the world’s most visited websites for technology news, operates a start-up hub and hosts an annual technology conference in Amsterdam. The company’s co-founder and chief executive, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, explains how the company found a business mix that works.


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