The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 13 September 2018

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Brighter skies ahead?

If Trump had his way, the US’s foremost weather-watching organisation would be operating under a cloud.

The US states of North and South Carolina are bracing themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. As the storm looms, focus has fallen on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which was founded in 1970 by the Nixon administration to monitor oceans, major waterways and atmosphere. In February, Donald Trump proposed a $1bn (€860m) cut to its annual budget of some $6bn (€5.1bn) – a proposal that has, understandably, met with resistance from Congress. As well as deepening our understanding of storms, NOAA is a potent soft-power asset for the US: several hurricane-prone countries, primarily in the Caribbean, rely on its expertise to predict and prepare for storms.

Design

Image: Leonardo Finotti

Building towards something

An architecture award that celebrates buildings with principled foundations is to be applauded.

The prestigious 2018 Riba International Prize, as well as honouring the world's most ambitious new architecture, highlights works that champion a social cause. Looking at the shortlist revealed yesterday, it seems the latter factor has come to the fore in impressing the esteemed industry judges, who are led by Liz Diller, the designer behind New York's High Line. Green architecture in the form of Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale tower and a school that has aided a rural community in Brazil are two of the four nominees that have put the betterment of people first on their agendas. The biennial award’s winner isn’t revealed until next month but this announcement is already a victory for an industry that is too often pushed to put profit before principles.

Terrorism

Image: Getty Images

Runway riddle

Tripoli has closed down its main airport after it was subjected to a terrorist attack. It seems like a logical move – but is it?

Early on Wednesday morning, ballistic missiles were launched at Mitiga, Tripoli’s only fully functioning airport; a group known as the Tripoli Youth Movement claimed responsibility. While no material damage was done, all flights are being rerouted to and from Libya’s capital. But closed airports present problems for the economy and there is a rationale for keeping calm and carrying on according to Sally Leivesley, a specialist in catastrophic and extreme risk. “Airports in conflict zones are sometimes more resilient and keep operating as passengers and freight operators accept a significant risk as an everyday situation. Countries less familiar with terror attacks close down and the financial impact – and shock effect – is an encouragement for more terror attacks.”

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Forward thinking

A huge neighbourhood redevelopment in Japan has succeeded where others often fail: its residents have been able to go about their daily lives.

Tokyo’s Shibuya Station is among the busiest in the world, with some three million people passing through every weekday. The Japanese capital is in the midst of modernising the station and its surrounding area with a grand-scale infrastructure project that is set to completed by 2027. Today sees the opening of a major component of the redevelopment, called Shibuya Stream. The complex encompasses a 180-metre-tall multi-use tower and a promenade next to the freshly cleaned Shibuya River. The regeneration of the neighbourhood holds an important lesson for urbanists the world over: when undertaking major projects it is vital to minimise the disruption to ordinary life. Because impressively, amid all the rebuilding, Shibuya Station (pictured) has remained open.

From Monocle 24

Meeting Manuel Aires Mateus

Monocle on Design

We meet Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus at his new headquarters to talk new projects, the value of teaching and why he’d never open a studio anywhere but Lisbon. Plus: Maison & Objet’s designer of the year, Ramy Fischler, and our picks from the London Design Biennale.

From Monocle Films

Making it in Jakarta

Indonesia’s bounteous resources make it the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up camp. We meet four enterprising Jakarta residents, who tell us how they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this chaotic city.

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