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food / travel

Mexico City Stepping Up With 'Green' Mega Airport Terminal

The Mexican capital is revamping its international airport, with a new terminal designed by star architect Norman Foster that will double capacity, save energy and dazzle the eyes.

Renderings of Mexico City's new airport, expected to be in use by 2020
Renderings of Mexico City's new airport, expected to be in use by 2020

MEXICO CITY — The architect Norman Foster and his associates have been tasked with designing Mexico City's new airport terminal, touted not just as visually spectacular but also hyper-environmental.

The terminal is expected to be in use by 2020 and serve some 50 million passengers a year, twice the number that use the current airport. Its signature features include a solar roof for the entire structure, which will partly power the terminal and save energy by maximizing penetration of natural light.

The terminal will also seek solutions for the supply and consumption of water, a key issue in parched central Mexico. It will capture and recycle rain water for use by travelers, and thus "diversify" supplies to reduce use of bottled water, cutting plastic waste. While rain drenches Mexico City during June and July, most of the water is wasted and central Mexico faces endemic water shortage.

The airport's design anticipates the trend in efficient water use. In seeking to avoid bottled water it is also helping to confront another problem of this megalopolis of 20 million residents — massive use of plastic and the logistical problems of recycling. Very few people drink the city's tap water even though it is potable.

The building's X-shaped design is also touted as saving human energy. The architects have envisaged equidistant departure gates to reduce time needed to reach them and use of motorized transport in the building. Construction is to begin in 2015 and set to conclude in 2018; costs are expected to hover between $9 billion and $13 billion.

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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