Wednesday. 30/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Defence

Big bang theory

Nuclear powers are hoping that a meeting in Beijing will pave the way for disarmament – but will they see eye to eye?

Representatives from the world’s five official nuclear powers will meet in Beijing today to discuss nuclear disarmament. Delegates from the US and Russia are likely to have some uncomfortable discussions – perhaps peppered by awkward silences – over Moscow’s alleged breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Some will be questioning the efficacy of the exercise, according to Lukasz Kulesa, research director at the European Leadership Network. “We are in the midst of a nuclear-weapons renaissance,” he says. “More countries are saying that they are necessary for security and they are creeping in to discussions of policy and strategy more frequently.”

Politics

Plenty to shout about

Toronto’s prosperity is making the city louder but will turning down the volume drown out its growth?

Toronto’s population might be growing but prosperity brings its own issues. Noise pollution has become a particular problem and John Tory, the city’s recently re-elected mayor, claimed on his campaign that he would seek to dampen the din of Toronto’s roads and neighbourhoods. The city’s noise-pollution laws haven’t seen a meaningful update since 2002, even though its population has grown by more than a million since then. Discussions on traffic noise and bar-opening times are underway, as part of consultations aimed at making the city quieter. But city hall must ensure that any resulting decision has little impact on the quality of life in Toronto, which is currently in the ascendancy – noisy cities aren’t necessarily bad ones.

Books

Back to the future

Urban-planning is never simple but the tribulations of London’s Thamesmead offer valuable lessons (and a nice new book to peruse).

What potential the Greater London Authority saw in a stretch of silty marsh presided over by pylons and sewage outlets nearly 18km east of central London is hard to fathom – but what it created is easy to appreciate. Starting in 1967, the muddy flats spawned concrete tower blocks, stepped terraces and marinas – more Marseille than Millwall – which are chronicled in a new book: The Town of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Thamesmead by Here Press. The modernist utopia of Thamesmead, where Norman Foster built in the early 1970s and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was filmed, saw sad times but also created a sense of community to which some ritzier developments would aspire. The book is a worthwhile flick-through for insight, profiles and a snapshot of what the future used to look like.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism

Cleaning up its act

Hong Kong’s busy tourist thoroughfare is getting a welcome facelift – and not a street performer in sight.

Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui is a renowned tourist trap. Modelled on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, its main attractions are handprints of Hong Kong actors and a big statue of Bruce Lee. The view into the bay wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t often marred by the cacophonous noise of street performers. Tomorrow the city is launching the avenue’s refresh, where landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations has lent some urbanist expertise to make the place a bit classier: think multilevel seating and mood lighting by Speirs & Major. As well as this, the scaffolding has come off the nearby K11 shopping complex and the remodelled Museum of Art, both due to open later this year. The best bit? Street performers are banned until further notice.

Eliot Haworth

The Stack

We speak with Eliot Haworth, editor of ‘Fantastic Man’ new title ‘What Men Wear’.

Canada: state of the nation

From a thriving economy to potent soft-power credentials, we unpack what keeps Canada on the up.

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