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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 27 July 2017

Architecture

Image: Alamy

Still standing

An Australian brutalist building facing demolition has been given a second chance.

Sydney’s brutalist Sirius apartment block, which has divided opinion ever since it was designed in 1978, has been given a reprieve from demolition after a court reversed the verdict not to grant it heritage status. The boxy structure was to face the wrecking ball but the Land and Environment Court overturned the decision, to the relief of campaigners who have been battling to save it. After the ruling the campaign group – led by Australian Institute of Architects president Shaun Carter – promised to continue its battle to preserve the building. Recognition of its architectural merit as well as the importance of preserving spaces in the city for working-class citizens can only be a positive step in a country that has at times been slow to celebrate its modernist edifices.

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Face value

Changi Airport is going hi-tech to help passengers breeze through its newest terminal.

There is fierce competition to perform in Asia’s air-transit industry and efficiency is key. Singapore’s Changi Airport debuts its fourth terminal later this year and one of the world’s most important travel hubs will rely on facial-recognition technology to streamline the journey from check-in, through security, to boarding. Still, the process shouldn’t be as impersonal as that sounds: the terminal has a dining stretch designed to imitate the nation’s heritage Peranakan shophouse architecture from the 1880s and filled with homegrown food brands from Bee Cheng Hiang to Bengawan Solo. There is also a green boulevard with 500,000 plants, trees and shrubs – more than the other three terminals combined. Singapore may be an old hand at being an east-west transit lounge but it can still show a fresh face.

Affairs

Image: Reuters

Keeping it sweet

Economic struggles mean an unlikely country is courting the US in a bid to ward off sanctions.

Traditionally the purview of African nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt or Zimbabwe, there’s a new nation looking to leverage its image with PR and lobbying: Venezuela. After months of unrest, hyperinflation and dwindling food reserves, the embattled regime of Nicolás Maduro – the handpicked successor of self-declared revolutionary Hugo Chávez – has spent at least $1.3m (€1.1m) on Washington lobbyists – since Trump came to power – through its subsidiary Citgo, a Houston-based oil company. Maduro is desperate to do everything he can to stave off further possible sanctions against the Latin American nation. Though his regime likes to vilify the US, a move to block oil imports from the contry would be hard to survive.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Current account

Access to cheaper cars and infrastructure could hinder India’s electric pledge – but foreign brands are ready to zoom in.

India’s government plans to go big on electric cars and in April pledged to be almost entirely on electric by 2030. The issue now though is getting access to cheaper vehicles: Mahindra, the only maker of all-electric cars in India, prices them at three times a petrol-powered car. This month Renault announced plans for an electric version of its hybrid low-cost car Kwid to retail in China and there’s speculation that the Indian market will be next. But before that happens the country needs aggressive investment in battery-charging infrastructure, given its first charging station was only installed two months ago. For Renault there’s impetus to move quickly and secure a first-mover advantage as rival Nissan readies an announcement for an Indian e-car of its own.

From Monocle 24

Pocket Living

The Entrepreneurs

Marc Vlessing is the founder of Pocket Living, a London-based start-up that’s developed a solution to help priced-out young professionals onto the property ladder. Its product? Compact, well-designed homes sold for at least 20 per cent cheaper than the local-market rate. Vlessing discusses disrupting a stubborn market, shares tips on how start-ups can navigate regulation and looks at the future of living in growing cities.

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