Monocle #145

Issue 145 July/August 2021

Monocle’s summery, bumper-sized July/August double issue includes the annual Quality of Life index and insights on the 20 best cities to call home (and why). Within our liveability index, our editors surveyed the cities that stayed resilient, invested in liveability and made a splash despite setbacks.

Elsewhere in the issue, we hear from expert essayists, benchmark the best roadside services and examine a few choice residences that put their occupants first. Plus: the people running beachside businesses in Greece, a summer soundtrack and a few choice hotels that have thrown open their doors in London, Beirut and La Paz, Mexico. This is an issue packed with sunny ideas, insights and suggestions.

At the front

  • Editor’s letter: Our urban spaces need to change but not in the way you might expect, says Andrew Tuck.
  • The opener: From game-changers to green capitals and suspect statues, we round up some eye-catching news from across the globe.
  • Ich bin ein Berryliner: In Germany’s capital, locals are passionate about strawberries. Every summer, hundreds of booths open to sell fresh punnets to fruity customers. We join the queue.
  • Soichi Terada: The first thing that many of us will want to do this summer is put on our dancing shoes and boogie the night away. And Soichi Terada is intent on providing the soundtrack.
  • My cabinet: Winy Maas designed the world’s first art depot that is accessible to the public. We meet the movers and shakers, engineers and experts who helped him make it happen.


  • Hometown advantage: At a time when so much has been turned on its head, we’ve tweaked our annual urban Quality of Life Survey to consider the cities that are best placed to prosper post-pandemic. So here’s how metropolises from Vancouver to Vienna are faring as liveable locations.
  • Open days: In need of an urban pick-me-up? Boosting quality of life in cities doesn’t always require large-scale intervention. These projects are improving the way their cities look, act and feel.
  • Advance party: The past year has allowed for time to pause and ponder over many things. When looking ahead, these are the ways our writers believe politics, urban planning, commuting and climate change policy can move on in ways that benefit us all. Oh, and how summer holidays helped to shape our view of Ancient Greece.


  • Premium pit stops: Most service stations are a means to an end: a quick stop-off beside a motorway to refuel and stretch your legs. But can they be more? We park at cultured conveniences revving things up.
  • Ship shape: It should be a moment to savour – a sea breeze, a glass of rosé in hand. But most ferry trips involve terrible coffee and belching fumes. Fear not, we have a plan to get holidays back on course.
  • They have it licked: The owners of modest gelaterie can find themselves running businesses with the potential to become deliciously successful global brands. We look at three fresh players with the power to melt investors’ hearts and add sprinkles of joy to our lives.
  • Branch network: It makes elegant, versatile and sustainable buildings but there’s now a global shortage of timber – and the issue is splintering global relations.


  • Bliss tracks: Here comes the sun – and with it the music to enjoy in its magnificent rays. Whether you’re in the mood for new party anthems, beach-party psychedelia or soulful, gentle melodies, there is plenty here to tap your sandalled toes to. Meet the musicians providing the soundtrack to summer.
  • Heart of the matter: With Portugal’s role in global affairs growing, big media players have stepped up, while smaller publications focus on local matters. The result? Possibly the world’s most well-informed city.
  • Island inspiration: Helsinki is launching an art biennial with a twist by using its rugged landscapes to inspire artists.
  • Reformed character: Athens has a vast new cultural space – but only for two years. Neon will continue its nomadic existence but before it leaves, it plans to deliver a cultural hit to a quiet neighbourhood.
  • Screen saviour: It has been a dark year for cinemas around the world but the credits aren’t rolling yet – and a revitalised cinema on Singapore’s waterfront is stealing the scene.
  • Heat wave: With big-screen portraits of beloved writers and pop visionaries, rediscovered novels and moving beaches, this will be a summer to remember.


  • Rise again: There’s often a temptation to pull down and rebuild but over the following pages we look at projects determined to make do and mend, starting with a modernist marvel in Spain.
  • Fit for purpose: The Paimio Sanatorium has been saved by devoted fans of Alvar and Aino Aalto’s celebrated building. And now they hope to revive it as a place for health, healing and introspection.
  • Tread lightly: For these discerning Australians, a new place to call home means eschewing outdated ideals and focusing on a more sustainable way of living, as pioneered by one trailblazing Antipodean architect.
  • Ground force: At the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, dialogue is focused on the effects of tourism, sustainability and communal living, as well as the lasting impact of contemporary architecture.
  • The Monocle Shop: From morning dips to sundowner drinks, summer style should look effortless. Achieve that ease by making a few key purchases now. And remember: sandal with care.


  • Eat and greet: A protected Zürich building has a new lease of life as a Japanese restaurant. And Ooki Pavilion’s owners are helping to transform a quieter corner of the city with good food and great design.
  • Peak times: The lives of many in picturesque Abruzzo are tied to the land. We take a tour of the top tables, producers and places to stay.
  • Kerb your appetite: A pair of inventive Helsinki restaurateurs have transformed three long-overlooked city kiosks into hospitable hubs of singular street-food. We join the queue.


  • ’Hood intentions: How do you conjure retail magic away from major thoroughfares? Three fashion-shop owners share their winning tricks. Their approaches include nurturing clients in their neighbourhoods, running events that draw the like-minded from further afield and teaming up with other nearby businesses. An edit of sharp clothes and fetching products helps too.
  • Fitting room: A renaissance in handmade Japanese sandals is attracting a discerning clientele who are discovering how to match them not only with traditional looks but modern-day outfits too.
  • All the light moves: With blue skies above and wind flicking the water, breezy tailoring has its moment in the sun. Here are some cool whites and welcome brights inspired by a Riviera roadtrip.
  • Hello sunshin: eIt’s time for your wardrobe to take a lighter turn, whether you’re embracing summer in the city, striding across the the sand or diving into the sea. Here’s our hit list of choice pieces.


  • Beside the seaside: When taking a roadtrip along Portugal’s Atlantic coast, you can be sure of one thing: delicious seafood. We take a tour of the area’s best beach bars.
  • Good authority: Nomad’s debut London opening in a former magistrates’ court and jail is a place where many would be happy to find themselves detained.
  • At the club: Mexican hospitality firm Grupo Habita has brought a down-at-heel villa in the seaside town La Paz back to life. Welcome to Baja Club.
  • From the ashes: On the day that Nabil and Zoe Debs welcomed the first guests to their historic home turned hotel, Arthaus, it was all but destroyed in the port explosion. Yet in rebuilding it all from the rubble, they cemented its place as a creative hub.
  • Sand guard: What kind of beachgoer are you? Get ready for the return of the shadebathers, bodies in fine mahogany, supercharged nubile flirters and blatant naturists at a coast near you this summer.


  • Time and tide: On Thassos, as throughout the Greek islands, tourism is the engine of the summer economy. But preparing the ground for 300,000 seasonal visitors begins long before they arrive. The influx requires a well-honed collective endeavour from hotelier, entrepreneur and casual worker alike – some of whom we meet here on the northern Aegean isle’s sparkling shores.event taking place at all.