Wednesday 18 October 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 18/10/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Slow the flow

A victory was achieved this week for those hoping to stop a major construction project on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. The government wants to build an elevated promenade along both sides of the river in order to allow people to walk along the water; however, the project would also result in evictions of entire riverfront communities and pose environmental dangers to boot. But now the World Monuments Fund has added the Chao Phraya River to its 2018 World Monuments Watch list, which designates sites around the world that are under threat in some way. Yossapon Boonsom, managing director of landscape architectural practice Shma Company, who also heads up the civil society group Friends of the River, says he hopes the designation will prompt the government to slow down and undertake a thorough environmental and economic impact assessment of the project. “Being included on the watchlist enables us to renew conversations and further dialogue with the government and the public,” he says. And as a wave of new architects and designers reinvigorates the river’s warehouses and neighbourhoods, this is a good moment to press pause on the grand project.

Image: Getty Images


Who’s who

Communist party grandees settled into their seats today for the start of China’s 19th congress. The most eagerly awaited moment of the weeklong get together, staged every five years inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, will be when the new line-up of the standing committee takes to the stage. Guessing who will be promoted has been filling plenty of column inches since only two of the existing seven members, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, are young enough to serve another term. But will Xi bend the rules to allow graft-busting enforcer Wang Qishan to be kept on beyond retirement age and pave the way for the president to serve beyond 2022? Could Li Keqiang be replaced as premier? Or will the committee shrink in size to concentrate even more power in the president’s hands?

Image: Alamy


Cold sweat

With the host city for the 2024 Olympics sorted, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is now trying to sew up a location for the 2026 Winter Games but one favoured location has already dropped out. Innsbruck decided not to bid at all after Tyrol held a region-wide referendum on the issue and a majority voted against playing host. Residents of Innsbruck were particularly against the idea: 67 per cent registered an anti-Olympic vote. Though it’s certainly not the first city to opt out of bidding for the pricey production, Innsbruck’s decision is a particularly tough blow to the IOC: the Austrian city’s early plans for a sustainable, low-cost Games was in line with the committee’s own reform programme, Agenda 2020, which offered more flexibility and eased the burden on the host.

Image: Alamy


Changing its tune

Toronto has quite rightly cemented itself as a festival city over the past few years with music events, neighbourhood street parties and annual celebrations of film, theatre, art and interior design that have become the toast of Canada’s creative scene. But this year a new trend has emerged: smaller, homegrown festivals are outperforming their bigger, more established counterparts. Major outdoor music festivals had a tough summer in the city; the UK’s Bestival franchise ended its Toronto edition while ticket sales for music events such as NXNE and Manifesto were disappointing. But grassroots ventures are stepping into the gap, from the Kensington Market Jazz Festival to the Not Dead Yet punk-rock fest. These gatherings are a welcome addition to Toronto’s cultural life: not only do they crack something of a corporate stronghold over cultural events but transform often overlooked corners of the city into impromptu, temporary venues.

Image: Geoff Pugh

Amit Chaudhuri

Amit Chaudhuri's seventh novel – Friend of my Youth – is, he says, not really a novel at all. So what is it? He discusses literary forms and his background in Mumbai and Kolkata.

Sweden on high alert

The flare-up in the Baltic region has seen tensions rising in Sweden. We visit Gotland to see what action the government is taking to fortify the island.


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