Friday. 28/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Peter Firth

Burn your bridges

Controlled explosions are due to take place in Genoa today to demolish the remnants of the Morandi Bridge, which collapsed in August last year resulting in the deaths of 43 people. The operation to level the ruins is running behind schedule and, for residents, the structure’s enduring presence is a painful reminder of the tragedy. Authorities have attempted to quell their disquiet by affirming that the new bridge, promised for April 2020, will open on schedule.

Meanwhile the criminal investigation into the government officials and employees of Autostrade per l’Italia who were jointly responsible for managing the bridge has so far yielded little except a public mud-slinging match between the two. While Italy looks for someone to blame, it is unclear whether the incident last summer is an anomalous catastrophe or a canary in the mine for a wider infrastructural crisis in the country. The situation demands an independent auditing body assembled by the EU’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Development to provide impartial and categorical evidence on how many of Italy’s bridges need urgent, indelible repairs.

Diplomacy / Japan

Look who’s talking

The Group of 20 summit in Osaka starts today but it’s the one-on-one meetings on the sidelines of the event that are expected to dominate the headlines. US president Donald Trump has at least eight bilateral meetings planned, including one with China’s Xi Jinping, which comes at a climactic point in the 11-month trade war between their two countries. In his other face-to-face meetings with the leaders of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany, India, Australia and Japan, Trump will try to turn up the pressure on Iran after Tehran shot down an unmanned US drone last week. Meanwhile, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is hosting the G20 for the first time, is eager to show that he can mobilise wealthy nations to co-operate on trade, cybersecurity and climate change.

Transport / Germany

Slow motion

Summer has finally arrived in Europe and many will take advantage of this weekend’s warm weather by heading out of the city, perhaps in a fast car with the top down. But speed freaks in Germany might have to put the brakes on their plans: authorities have placed temporary speed restrictions on usually limit-free Autobahns – because it’s too hot. After the mercury hit 38 celsius this week, the German Weather Service says that temperatures will be even hotter this weekend, possibly topping the 40.3 celsius record set in 2015, and that could cause road surfaces to crack. State authorities have responded by imposing limits of 100kmph, or 120kmph on some routes, as a safety measure. It’s a sensible move but it could drive impatient motorists round the bend.

Urbanism / Toronto

On the right track

Oxford Properties Group, the developer behind New York’s Hudson Yards, has revealed plans for the largest mixed-use development in Toronto’s history. Estimated to cost CA$3.5bn (€2.3bn), Union Park would see four acres of downtown land converted into over 18,000 sq m of retail space, 800 residential units and a combined 106 storeys of office space, all spread across four soaring towers. With the majority of downtown residents living in apartments with little green space, most exciting is Oxford’s plan for a two-acre park that would cover a rail line bifurcating the downtown area. If approved, construction is pegged for 2023. Hopefully it’ll then be joined by Rail Deck Park: a city-led proposal for a 21-acre urban park spanning the same rail line.

Urbanism / Madrid

Walk of life

Today guests, speakers and reporters descend on the Conde Duque Cultural Centre in Madrid for Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference. The agenda is as hot as the weather (fortunately for all, the auditorium has air conditioning) with Monocle editors unpacking questions such as how to make cities more liveable (taking lessons from the conference’s host city) and how to keep journalists safe in an era when more governments are clamping down on free speech. Beyond this, the line-up features some of the world’s most visionary thinkers: former editor of New York Magazine Adam Moss will discuss the importance of creativity, UK architect David Chipperfield will consider the future of the city and celebrated Danish urban thinker Jan Gehl will explain why we should put pedestrians first. For more details, head to monocle.com.

M24 / Monocle On Design: Extra

Havana’s Focsa building

We head to the top of the Focsa building in Havana, which arguably boasts one of the Cuban capital’s best views. Over the years it’s hosted wealthy landowners, Russian spies, foreign dignitaries and academics. We lift the veil on its mysterious past.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: The Drinking & Dining Directory 2019

This is the second serving of our tasty annual and, once again, it’s full of delectable photography and tempting reports. Not least among them is our 2019 Restaurant Awards, which focuses on 50 venues that our editors and correspondents have dined at and delighted in. Get your fill of that – and plenty more nourishing features – by picking up a copy today.

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