The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 25 January 2019

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Smoothing over the cracks

Is Germany softening its stance towards the US – and if so, why?

Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House has tested Berlin’s relationship with Washington to its limit. German chancellor Angela Merkel has endured personal insults from the US president and the two countries have also locked horns over trade and defence. It’s with this in mind that Frau Merkel’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, begins the unenviable task of conducting high-level talks with the Trump administration. He appears to have taken a more gentle approach than his boss by praising the transatlantic partnership and asserting that Germany “cannot do without the US". But Quentin Peel – who was chief Germany correspondent for the Financial Times – says that the comments should not be seen as a volte-face. He told The Briefing on Monocle 24: “Heiko Maas is a very soft-spoken character, and a very careful character on the whole. I don’t think he’s going to rush out and try and do something different.” Perhaps Germany is quietly preparing for a White House without Donald Trump.

Aviation

Flight fantastic

Boeing has revealed the new look of its impressive 777X jet – let’s hope that it has the speed and efficiency to match.

This week Boeing released renderings of the cabins of its 777X passenger jet to much fanfare within the aviation industry. For those who spend much of their time in the air, there are reasons to be cheerful. The interior will feel lighter and more spacious, with windows that are 16 per cent bigger than before. It will also have a quieter air-conditioning unit, which should mitigate the muted roar associated with high flight. But when it comes to attracting more airlines to invest in the new jet, it’s less about bums on seats and more about making the bird fly faster and more efficiently, according to aviation consultant Azlan Morad. “As a new aircraft, it needs to firstly offer significant improvements in its aerodynamic and engine performance efficiencies,” he says. “Margins are very tight in the business as airlines face pressures to pare down just about everything they can.”

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Plans on a grand scale

Tokyo is set to move forward with its market redevelopment – but first the city’s got bigger fish to fry.

With seafood wholesalers, auctioneers, transport companies and ice-makers settling in at Tokyo’s new Toyosu Fish Market, city officials are moving ahead with plans to redevelop the former Tsukiji site. This week Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said that her initial idea for a “food theme park” had been dropped. Instead the city plans to build a convention centre along with some hotels and restaurants, as well as a waterfront plaza and a ferry terminal. While a new place to hold tradeshows doesn’t sound quite as enticing as the former option, it might make better business sense. But landowners and shopkeepers in the neighbourhood shouldn’t expect a boost in property values just yet: the city’s interim plan is to turn the sprawling Tsukiji site into a colossal carpark in time for the 2020 Olympics.

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Tipping point

A city in New Jersey is turning hotspots for illegally discarded waste into public art spaces.

Camden, a city in New Jersey, has won a bid to receive a $1m (€880,000) grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to transform flytipping hotspots along the city’s main transport routes into multipurpose public art spaces. Sites will include the city’s former Reliable Tire factory: the empty block has been blighted by illegal waste dumping for years but will now become a centre for art installations and community forums. Projects such as the V&A Dundee in Scotland have demonstrated the potential of public art institutions to spur urban regeneration. If this project is well executed it could be a canny way of turning around Camden’s economic fortunes, while also clearing up the city’s most polluted areas.

From Monocle 24

Image: Leo Fabrizio

Neue Holzbau

Monocle on Design: Extra

From the handsome exposed rafters of an ice rink in Davos to the spa-like wooden trimmings of a new public swimming pool in Nyon, timber specialist Neue Holzbau is refining sporting buildings in Switzerland and beyond.

From Monocle Films

Zürich: co-operative living

We head to Mehr als Wohnen, a unique mixed-use development housing a happy and healthy community.

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