Kiwis still don’t have a government almost two weeks after one of the closest general elections in recent times. Though incumbent prime minister Bill English’s National party came within two seats of a parliamentary majority, his lead over Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party is expected to be cut back this Saturday when the tally of so-called “special votes” are announced. A record number of overseas ballots were cast this year and these special voters – about 15 per cent of the total – tend to favour left-leaning Labour and the Greens. Meanwhile, English and Ardern are both trying to build a coalition to get their parties over the line: the two leaders are expected to begin separate talks this week with “kingmaker” Winston Peters, leader of populist party New Zealand First that’s in third place. That said, any handshakes will have to wait until the full electoral picture emerges over the weekend.
The road ahead for Uber in London looks bumpy. Just over a week after the UK capital announced that it wouldn’t renew the ride-sharing company’s licence, Uber’s London boss Jo Bertram announced that she was stepping down. Yesterday saw the company’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi fly into the city to meet Transport for London’s commissioner to discuss the ban, which Uber plans to appeal. Yet there is a lot of support in London for some taxi competition to rival the city’s dominant black cabs. An aspiring entrepreneur should seize the opportunity and take a cue from Austin: when the Texas city banned Uber a number of enterprising homegrown ride-sharing companies launched, finding success by capitalising on local knowledge – and adhering to regulations.
The womenswear season wrapped up yesterday with Chanel, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton shows on the final day of Paris Fashion Week. One of the star events though happened off the runway: Louis Vuitton unveiled its new luxury emporium on Place Vendôme. The Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, which has hosted VIP viewings since Sunday and opens to the public today, is a gilded three-storey outpost that was once a pair of 18th-century townhouses. The sumptuous space – designed by retail-architect guru Peter Marino and fitted with parquet floors, skylights and limestone walls – houses the brand’s biggest selection of womenswear worldwide, as well as its high-jewellery atelier. The opening is an important moment for this section of the 1st arrondissement, which is set to become the heart of Paris’s luxury-retail scene once again with Dior and Chanel moving into neighbouring spaces in the near future.
Archifest, Singapore’s annual architecture festival, opens its 11th edition tomorrow and will run until 15 October. For the first time the festival won’t centre on an anchor pavilion, with the action spread across multiple locations instead. Co-festival directors H Koon Wee and Eunice Seng embraced the challenge of various venues as a way to build on this year’s theme of “Building Agency”. Inspired by the hot topic among urban planners and architects – who believe that citizen participation is crucial when planning a city’s built environment – the multiple venues will represent Singapore’s varied stakeholders, from government institutions to architects and individuals. The key, says Seng, is to “acknowledge and bring on board individuals and groups who have been overlooked – migrant workers in Singapore, for example.” Indeed two exhibits will focus on the city from this group’s perspective. While it may be hard to imagine the tightly controlled city-state embracing a bottom-up system, it’s sure to spark a conversation about who architecture is for.
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