Tuesday 18 October 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 18/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Fenwick Iribarren Architects

Opinion / Hannah Lucinda Smith

Here today, gone tomorrow

About 10km east of central Doha stands a stadium that is not long for this world – in fact it will disappear from its current location once the football World Cup in Qatar concludes in mid-December. Built from shipping containers and a modular steel structure, Stadium 974 – named after the number of storage units used in its construction and the country’s international dialling code – could “open up a whole new vision”, says its architect, Mark Fenwick.

Madrid-based Fenwick Iribarren Architects took inspiration from the big-top circus tent, a huge structure that is designed to be moved to new locations. Fenwick also took note of the abundance of shipping containers and structures made from them around the world; he even used Lego to experiment with modular forms.

Despite the simplicity of the idea, building a moveable stadium is an unprecedented achievement, particularly as host cities often struggle with the legacy of such structures. Once the tournament is over, it can be transported abroad, perhaps to a future World Cup host nation. “A stadium costs more to run over its lifetime than it does to build,” Fenwick tells Monocle. “I feel very strongly about the white elephants that are left behind after these events.”

The stadium’s roof means that it’s also suitable for rainy conditions and the shelf-like structures on which it’s built allow cross-ventilation, reducing the need for artificial cooling. Whether positive, climate-appropriate designs can help to take some of the heat off the host nation’s shortcomings on workers’ rights and questions over the procurement of the tournament itself remains to be seen.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. Read more about Qatar’s collapsible stadium in our November issue, which is out on Thursday, or subscribe today so that you don’t miss an issue.

Image: Alamy

Defence / India

Show of force

The US and India begin a large joint military exercise today close to the latter’s disputed land border with China. Drills are taking place in the state of Uttarakhand and focus on high-altitude warfare using infantry and airborne forces. Though this is the 18th annual outing of the exercise, this year’s comes at a moment of high tension between the two countries and China. The manoeuvres are taking place less than 100km from the Line of Actual Control, a mountainous strip of terrain that acts as a de facto Sino-Indian border. Since a 1962 war between the two neighbours, tensions have flared up intermittently, most severely in 2020, when at least 24 soldiers died in violent clashes. This month’s exercises come less than two days after Xi Jinping delivered a combative speech to the ruling Communist Party in which he insisted that Beijing would, if necessary, use force to achieve its goal of reunification with Taiwan.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Brazil

State of the nation

Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second most populous state, is a political microcosm of the country at large: diverse and spread across a mixture of rural and urban areas with various voting patterns. As a result, presidential candidates Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (pictured) are keeping a very close eye on the state. In every election since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985, the winner of Minas Gerais has taken the presidency.

Last week, former president Lula drew a massive crowd in Belo Horizonte, the state’s capital, after winning Minas Gerais in the first round of the election. His victory came despite the fact that the state’s governor-elect, Romeu Zema, had declared his support for Bolsonaro. Lula will return there at the end of this week following a big rally for the incumbent today. Both will be hoping that the state leans in their favour come the second round runoff on 30 October.

For more coverage of Brazil’s election and insights from Monocle 24’s Fernando Augusto Pacheco, tune in to Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Technology / USA

Burning issue

The west coast of the US is nearing what was once seen as the end of wildfire season – but, of course, the fires are still raging. As the season runs later into the year, state governments spend billions of dollars trying to keep fires under control and there has arisen a whole private sector of land and air firefighters.

Now California’s technology entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity: Convective Capital, a new fund dedicated to backing early-stage “firetech” firms, launched earlier this month with $35m (€36m) and plans to support 15 young companies. Many are hardware operations, such as Burnbot, which is designing drones that can be flown to hard-to-reach parts of forests and set controlled fires to burn off some of the driest brush before it turns into a wildfire. “There’s so much dead fuel there, and that’s why we’re seeing this exponential growth in fire season,” says Simon Weibal, Burnbot’s head of field operations and a former firefighter for the National Parks Service. “There is no silver bullet but we need a technological solution to tame this.”

Image: Seven Stars

Tourism / Japan

Sleeper hit

While many tourists to Japan will have a bullet train ride on their to-do list, others prefer to move at a more stately pace. The slow-travel dream is Kyushu Railway’s Nanatsuboshi (Seven Stars), a deluxe sleeper train that chugs around the island of Kyushu in style. The train, in operation since 2013, has just been given a lavish makeover and was relaunched this weekend, with the priciest tickets for a three-night trip running to ¥1.7m (€11,800).

The train’s designer, Eiji Mitooka, believes in the romance of travel and is hoping that his wood-panelled train can become Japan’s Orient Express. During the revamp, Mitooka reduced capacity from 30 to 20 and added a bar and traditional tea-ceremony room. Tickets have been selling quickly. Older Japanese travellers with time on their hands and cash to spare love a spin on the Seven Stars. It’s a good reminder that the journey is as important as the destination.

Image: Issy Croker

Monocle 24 / The Menu

Oded Oren and Zuza Zak

How Israeli chef Oded Oren created one of London’s most beloved restaurants. Plus: why there’s more variety to pierogi than you might think.

Monocle Films / Athens

Meet Europe’s first chief heat officer

Athens is the hottest capital city in mainland Europe and temperatures continue to rise. That’s why Eleni Myrivili was appointed as the city’s – and continent’s – first chief heat officer last summer. We meet her on Philoppapou hill to hear about how urban design can help to build resilience against rising temperatures.


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