Tuesday. 30/6/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nic Monisse

High ideals

In recent years many businesses have built public relations campaigns around pledges to go green. How many times have we heard a company claim that it plans to be carbon neutral by 2050? Although laudable, such commitments are difficult for consumers to track: the targets are a long way off and progress can easily be missed.

Which is why our interest has been piqued by yesterday’s announcement that Australian technology giant Atlassian is to build new, environmentally friendly headquarters in Sydney. The company’s proposed 40-storey home (pictured) – which will have numerous garden spaces integrated into the building – will be the tallest hybrid-timber structure in the world. Once construction is completed, the building’s energy output and carbon emissions are expected to be 50 per cent lower than that of a typical new build. It’s both a savvy PR move (we have the tallest tower!) and a visible commitment to improving the environment. Rather than setting lofty goals for a far-flung future, Atlassian is making real, prompt progress.

The project is a reminder that architecture can serve as a tool to not only announce a company’s environmental intentions but to physically embody them. And it doesn’t just require a new building to do so – installing high-performance windows or a green roof can do immediate wonders for a business’s green credentials. Many firms would be wise to follow Atlassian’s lead and construct or retrofit a premises of their own.

Geopolitics / EU

Judging others

When Germany takes over the rotating EU presidency on Wednesday it will have some interesting new data to inform a search for common foreign-policy decisions. A report published yesterday by the European Council on Foreign Relations has revealed growing negative sentiment towards the US and China in Europe. A majority of citizens polled in nine EU member states say that their perception of China has deteriorated during the coronavirus crisis (62 per cent say so in France and Denmark). Also nearly two thirds say that their view of the US has worsened during the pandemic – casting a shadow of uncertainty over the future of the transatlantic alliance. The upshot, however, is increased support for the EU within member states; many viewed co-operation between them as the best way to overcome foreign-policy troubles. It pays for the EU to stick together if it wants to be a bulwark against east and west.

Sport / Brazil

Pitch battle

Sport is returning to a number of countries around the world but Rio de Janeiro’s top football clubs are sharply divided over restarting the state championship during the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases in Brazil. Matches resumed on 18 June with a game between Flamengo and Bangu but last weekend players from the Botafogo team walked onto the pitch carrying a banner that was critical of the competition’s return (the players also took the knee in support of Black Lives Matter).

“Thousands of people are still dying in Brazil while we are forced to play football with no safety,” said Mário Bittencourt, the president of another prominent football club, Fluminense. Currently there are no crowds at matches but that’s set to change in the coming weeks, during which time other states are set to join Rio in hosting games again. Expect the restart to remain a major dilemma for football-obsessed Brazil.

Business / Global

Declaration of independence

As high streets begin to reopen, it’s worth remembering the independent shops that matter most to our cityscapes. Think of your neighbourhood grocery, bookshop, florist, baker and barber. Think of their owners too – and try to imagine your area without them. As communities rebuild, it’s these neighbourhood shops that should form the anchor, which is why we profiled six of our favourites – from Type Books in Toronto to Cut Salon Ban in Tokyo and Rossignoli bike shop in Milan – for the July/August issue of Monocle magazine (order your copy here. These are the places that bind a community together. “We realised that there would be people who lived next door to each other but didn’t know each other,” says Gynelle Leon (pictured), owner of Prick florists in London and host of its regular Cactus and Chill evenings since opening in 2016. So don’t forget to support your neighbourhood independents once lockdown is over.

Arts / Japan

Character buildings

For years, dedicated manga fans have been making the pilgrimage to Tokyo’s Toshima ward to see the sites associated with a group of famous manga artists and writers who once lived in this unassuming neighbourhood. Central to the nostalgia tour is Tokiwa-so, a humble wooden apartment building where Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy), Fujiko F Fujio (creators of Doraemon) and others lived in their early days. The original Tokiwa-so was demolished in 1982 but now its cramped tatami rooms and wooden floors have been lovingly recreated in a new museum (pictured) that’s housed in a life-size replica of the old building. Visitors can nose into their heroes’ living quarters, see exhibitions and read their favourite volumes in the manga lounge. The whole neighborhood is hallowed ground for the true manga otaku (geek) – locations that the artists used to frequent are marked on walking-tour maps – but the Tokiwa-so Manga Museum will be a particularly cherished addition when it opens on 7 July.

M24 / The Big Interview

The Chiefs Edition: Peter Maurer

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, joins Tyler Brûlé to discuss the shifting funding models for international institutions, the importance of brand on the frontline and reshaping humanitarian aid and diplomacy in a post-coronavirus world.

Monocle Films / Turkey

Building a place for culture

We visit a Kengo Kuma-designed art museum in Eskisehir that’s set to become Turkey’s new cultural hotspot.

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