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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 19 October 2017

Economy

Image: Flickr

Big business

Two more North American cities have thrown their hats into the ring in the battle to attract Amazon’s second HQ – but does one have the edge?

A growing number of cities are scrambling for the affections of online titan Amazon in the wake of the company’s September announcement that it was opening up its hunt for a second headquarters. The latest places to join the contenders are Toronto and Chicago, which placed their bids this week. Amazon has said it will spend $5bn (€4.25bn) building HQ2 and promises 50,000 jobs, making it an alluring prospect for any city. While competition is fierce – Baltimore, New York and Nashville are also in the running – Torontonians are convinced they have the edge. After all, this week another major US technology company announced its investment in Toronto: Google’s urban-innovation company Sidewalk Labs is teaming with the city to build an ideal urban neighbourhood. Could Amazon follow Google’s lead and look north of the border? The winning city of the new HQ will be chosen next year.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Good value?

The cost of Abe’s latest snap election is steep and unlikely to sit well with voters.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic party looks set to be heading for a comfortable victory in Sunday’s Lower House elections. While this is a welcome boost for Abe’s bid to become Japan’s longest-serving leader, it is not proving to be such good news for the tax-paying public. The last general election in 2014 – a snap election like this one – came to ‎¥‎62bn (€4.6bn). The cost of this month’s, which is a year earlier than it needs to be, is expected to be just as high. The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s leading broadsheets, pointed out that this figure exceeds the ‎¥‎53bn (€4bn) that will be spent on supporting farmers this year and is more than twice the amount allocated to promoting tourism to Japan. Voters are fed up and, with only days to go, 40 per cent say they still haven’t decided who they’ll be supporting.

Design

Higher purpose

A Netherlands design fair is looking further afield than usual and asking what the industry can do about the world’s problems.

Tomorrow sees the start of the annual Dutch Design Week (DDW) in Eindhoven. The nine-day event will not only measure the accomplishments of the sector but also shine a light on the industry’s responsibility to combat global issues. To this end DDW’s first international ambassador Marcus Fairs, the founder of design website Dezeen, will lead a series of talks titled ‘Good Design for a Bad World’, which will explore how designers are tackling everything from pollution to politics. Winy Maas, founder of the Dutch architecture and urban-planning firm MVRDV, will weigh in on how urban design can prevent terrorism; and international development expert Kilian Kleinschmidt will explain why he believes refugee camps, which he calls the “cities of tomorrow”, are worthy of proper investment. Of course, there’ll be many more events and exhibitions across the city and more than one will pay homage to the centenary of the foundation of the pioneering Dutch art movement De Stijl.

Transport

Gravy train

Malaysia’s rail link won’t be ready for nine years but the prime minister is still keen to jump aboard and benefit from its momentum.

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project – which will cut travel time between the two cities by more than half to about 90 minutes – isn’t set to roll out until 2026 but that hasn’t stopped Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak from capitalising on the project. With general elections expected to be called soon, he has propelled the enterprise into the headlines this week by unveiling the individual designs that will feature in the seven Malaysian stations (the eighth station will be in Singapore’s western neighbourhood, Jurong). Among the designs, which represent different aspects of the country’s heritage, are a merchant ship to symbolise Malacca’s trading port and the kuda kepang (flat horse) for a traditional Javanese dance still practised in Johor. It’s a canny way to ensure that both the project and Razak appear to bolster Malaysian identity.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

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On the eve of its 60th anniversary we decide to take a closer look at Milan’s Torre Velasca, a skyscraper that, despite its groundbreaking design, received mixed reactions on its debut.

From Monocle Films

Made in Vienna

Craftsmanship has been at the beating heart of Vienna for hundreds of years; Monocle Films visits three family-run companies that have made tradition relevant.

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