The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 26 May 2018

Architecture

Image: Getty Images

Space to grow

This year’s theme at the Venice Architecture Biennale is encouraging exhibitors to let loose.

“Freespace” is the theme for the Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens to the public today, and has allowed exhibitors great creative freedoms. “What I’m proud of is that it does feel open-ended,” says Adam Caruso of Caruso St John Architects and co-curator of this year’s British Pavilion. Located in Venice’s Giardini parkland, Caruso’s piece is marked by a temporary structure crowning a completely empty pavilion, supported by scaffolding to form a free rooftop venue for performances during the six-month biennale. The British effort is one of countless exhibitions here that have taken a differentiated approach to the theme but the key sentiment appears to be “generosity”, in reference to the manifesto by the Biennale’s curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Many works question the architect’s role in giving back to society – a much-needed touch point in a world where urban development is becoming increasingly commercially driven.

Culture

Image: PA Images

Safe flight?

Olga Tokarczuk’s latest novel has brought her plaudits​ abroad​. She sits down with Monocle ahead of this year’s Hay Festival.

The annual Hay Literary Festival kicked off this week and among its luminary attendees this weekend is Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, who just won the Man Booker International prize for her novel ‘Flights’. The accolade is sure to make waves back home, as Tokarczuk – the first Polish writer to take home the award – has previously ruffled some feathers and even received death threats for criticising the country’s colonial history. Her current novel eschews a traditional narrative and is sure to strike a chord with anyone for whom air travel has prompted grim thoughts about the fragility of life. Before she set off, safely earthbound, for Hay, she sat down with Monocle 24’s Augustin Macellari. Don’t miss their chat on The Monocle Weekly, this Sunday at 12.00 UK time.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Stop traffic

Madrid has realised the benefit of banning cars and increasing footfall – and it’s not the only city to take heed.

Madrid is the latest European city attempting to make its downtown streets more pedestrian-friendly. This week Madrid’s mayor announced that from November, all non-resident vehicles will be barred from the central zone following the creation of three Residential Priority Zones across the city since 2005. And it’s not just Spain. Copenhagen is building bike superhighways branching out from its city centre and London has promised to make large parts of Oxford Street car-free by 2020. While such moves don’t equate to an end of urban car use, European cities are realising that curbing automobiles to make cities friendlier for pedestrians is just as important as lowering emissions to hit environmental targets.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Modest exterior

The venerable winner of this year’s Pritzker prize doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

The Pritzker prize marked its 40th anniversary this month – but it’s a veritable spring chicken when compared to its latest winner, Balkrishna Doshi. Best-known for his thoughtful social-housing designs in his native India, Doshi is circumspect about why, at 90 years old, architecture’s highest honour was bestowed upon him. “The award came as a surprise,” Doshi told us last week in Toronto, ahead of the official awards ceremony. “The kind of work I have done is slightly low key and if architecture doesn’t shout or scream, sometimes it goes unnoticed.” As his designs win new admirers their subtlety and sensitivity stand side by side with the modesty of the man. “I have done buildings that are graceful and easily understandable,” says Doshi. Tune in to Monocle 24 to hear the full interview.

From Monocle 24

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The best lesser-known wines, New Zealand chef Peter Gordon’s fusion cuisine, plus why Milan is becoming a top destination for seafood fans.

From Monocle Films

Italian industry special: The fabric mill

From cotton fields in Egypt to state-of-the-art laboratories in Bergamo, our search for quality “Made in Italy” textiles focuses on the fifth-generation Albini Group.

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