The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 13 February 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Beginning of the end

Angela Merkel is keen to remain Germany’s chancellor but the country is pondering her successor – and her legacy.

Angela Merkel went on German television on Sunday night in an attempt to quell accusations that she has bungled the coalition talks with the centre-left SPD, insisting that she wants to remain chancellor for a further four years. But there can be no doubt we’re now witnessing the twilight of her career, as many in Germany look to who will replace her. What will Merkel’s legacy be? The real danger is that she has contributed – through a series of Grand Coalitions – to the erosion of the difference between the country’s centrist parties, thus paving the way for more radical factions. We’ll find out next month if the SPD membership has green-lit another Grand Coalition. In the long run it might be better for German politics – and for Merkel’s legacy – if it doesn’t.

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Booked up

Greek librarians get busy boxing books as the country’s national library gets a new home.

The National Library of Greece in Athens, home to some 750,000 items and a collection of 4,500 manuscripts, is moving. As part of the effort to expand the library from a research facility to an all-inclusive public resource, the collection is making the journey from its current neoclassical building to the modern Renzo Piano-designed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), also the new home of the national opera. The transfer is expected to be completed in April when the library should swing into full operation. Some are sceptical of the library’s need to leave its grandiose home of more than 180 years but the new building’s eight reading rooms, “Book Tower”, climate control and preservation and digitisation facilities should be welcome additions for an institution hoping to remain relevant.

Culture

Image: Getty Images

Best in show

Pooches pitch up at the Big Apple as one of the US’s biggest dog shows gets tails wagging.

Dog-dense New York is hosting more handsome canines than usual this week. Yesterday marked the beginning of the 142nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. But before the formal show began the weekend saw another dogged competition, as the Masters Agility Championship had our furry friends leaping and bounding through obstacle courses to demonstrate their agility. The event was won by a seven-and-a-half-year-old border collie aptly named Fame(US) – pronounced “famous” – who beat more than 300 other canines to become top dog. All eyes now turn to today’s show at Madison Square Garden, where one proud hound will outpace 2,999 other competitors and emerge as the leader of the pack.

Property

Prefab clout

Shrewd developers in the Philippines are hoping to charm foreign pensioners by building a retirement village alongside major arts venues.

As developed cities in Asia grapple with ageing populations, savvy entrepreneurs are spotting opportunities to tap the silver dollar. Later this year Batulao Artscapes will complete its first phase: a retirement village to the south of Metro Manila that aims to attract overseas residents. South Korean and Japanese senior citizens are drawn to the Philippines and Batulao Artscapes assists with retirement visas as part of the package. The company behind the project, Revolution Precrafted, was set up two years ago by Jose Roberto “Robbie” Antonio and offers prefabricated homes designed by international architects. When finished, Batulao Artscapes will feature more than 6,000 properties alongside four museums – one of which will be designed by the Pritzker prize-winner Jean Nouvel, French architect of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Revolution Precrafted is working with Philippine property developer Century Properties, which was set up by Antonio’s father and recently completed another landmark associated with a gilded senior citizen: Trump Tower Manila.

From Monocle 24

Selling the sin sector

Culture with Robert Bound

As Taschen releases its new book ‘20th Century Alcohol & Tobacco Ads’, we go back in time to explore the golden age of advertising for cigarettes and alcohol. Robert Bound speaks to the book’s editor Jim Heimann and design critic’ Stephen Bayley.

From Monocle Films

Arresting architecture

We explore best practice in the design of prisons and see how modern thinking is forging innovative architecture with a human touch.

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