Wednesday 27 February 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 27/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opener / Andrew Tuck

A home for all

It’s funny how often it feels like city fixes ignore entire swathes of residents. As we report today, the UK is encouraging co-living as a way of bypassing its housing shortage. “Co-living”, for the uninitiated, is like WeWork for your private life, where you accept shared kitchens and living spaces in return, hopefully, for a perch that’s not in the suburbs. And, look, it can work – Monocle has previously written warmly about Zürich’s successful schemes. However, if you are not single, under 30 and childless – or just don’t like people stealing your oat milk – then these projects are rarely a solution.

We’ve noticed the same tendency with mobility. When we went to LA CoMotion in Los Angeles, an event that looks at the future of transport, the attendant brands were pushing electric skateboards and endless scooters as their city-mobility solutions. Fun but kind of useless when you need to get your kids home, or your shopping if it’s more extensive than a bagel. Where, we wondered, were all the souped-up golf buggies and mobility rides suitable for the old, infirm and poor-of-balance?

There’s a creeping feeling that a San Francisco take on urban living is now being touted everywhere. We need to pause and ensure that we are providing city solutions that work for every citizen – because co-living too often feels like a youthful rite of passage that, after a year, leaves people lusting after a one-bed apartment and fewer boozy nights.

Image: Getty Images

Technology / Barcelona

Impressive networking

At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the term “5G” appears somewhere on almost every booth. Brand reps brandishing the latest prototype smartphones will speak at length to anyone who’ll listen about the super-fast, on-the-hoof connectivity that the new network will provide. But the transformative power of 5G isn’t as much about speed as it is about consistency: it’s solid state could see it replace broadband landlines in the near future. In urban areas, this will improve internet for streets that don’t have a fibre connection. Looking even further ahead, it will be able to provide the speed and consistency to keep driverless cars informed of the road ahead – and keep the people who travel in said cars safe. Although that may be a little way off in most cities.

Image: Getty Images

Media / Russia

Debatable delivery

Russian TV anchor Dmitry Kiselyov broadcast his weekly news programme Vesti Nedeli on state broadcaster Rossiya Segodnya on Monday. The show featured a digital diagram of the US, outlining where Russian missiles would point in the event of a nuclear war. Even by Kiselyov’s standards – he once warned that Russia would reduce the US to “radioactive ash” on the same programme – it’s a trifle bellicose. “What’s so disturbing is that this television station is dictated by the Kremlin,” says Stephen Dalziel, former executive director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. “It’s partly to raise patriotism, talking up the fact that it can defend itself against the ‘wicked West’. But at the root of it all is the fact that if too many Russians looked at the West and saw it as a partner or a friend, or an alternative way of life, it would loosen Putin’s grip.”

Image: ALAMY

Urbanism / UK

Sharing is caring

London-based think tank Social Market Foundation has released a report suggesting that co-living could help stymie the UK’s crippling housing shortage. The study calls on the government to embrace the model – in which bedrooms orbit around shared spaces such as kitchens, gyms or dining areas – to allow buyers to nab properties at lower prices in more central areas, if they’re willing to compromise on space. Although the idea has echoes of Georgian garden sharing, or the co-living of the Barbican Estate from the 1960s, there’s a bigger issue at stake here: choice. Building a better future will involve rearranging our expectations of space and sharing resources – but more housing of any type, and of a greater density, would give younger buyers a say in the matter.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Iran

Shifting sands

In an unexpected move, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered his resignation this week. Announcing his decision on Instagram, he apologised for “shortcomings” since he was appointed to the role in 2013. A US-educated career diplomat, he negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with international powers. But since Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear agreement last year, pressure on moderates in Iran has been increasing and it is still unclear whether president Hassan Rouhani will accept the resignation. On Twitter, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote that his country’s policy towards Iran will remain “unchanged” – but will this still be the case if Zarif’s sudden departure opens the door to a less-diplomatic successor?

The art of luxury

We discuss how to create the feeling of luxury. Plus: specialist sound design, the tale of a household and food from northeast India.

Monocle preview: March issue, 2019

We’re celebrating all things French in our March issue. We’ve got reports on the things you’d expect – chic fashion, baguette rebels and Macron – and perhaps some things you don’t – from why the French navy is riding high to popstars setting the global agenda. Buy your copy now.


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