High And Dry: Architecture In the Age Of Climate Change

Designers are starting to take global warming into account when planning buildings, particularly in seaside locations like Miami.

The Monad Terrace Lagoon building in Miami designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel
The Monad Terrace Lagoon building in Miami designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel
Miguel Jurado

BUENOS AIRES As you read this, the level of the world's seas may be rising by a fraction of a millimeter, slightly but inexorably. I don't mean to be alarmist here. It could take years for the sea to rise by a meter, and one meter isn't that much at the end of the day. But if the water does keep rising, places like Buenos Aires will certainly face problems.

This is all happening thanks to climate change and global warming, which is caused by our exorbitant fossil fuel consumption. Most of you know that already, even if President Donald Trump insists it's all a hoax.

And yet, while many in the United States prefer to look the other way, there are signs that the Americans aren't as distracted as they seem. In Miami, for example, buildings are already being constructed several meters above ground level. Last year, in south Miami Beach, the French architect Jean Nouvel presented a seafront block of flats he designed in which the ground floor stands a full four meters above the beach. I kid you not.

New building codes in Miami are already calling for structures to be built two meters above ground level. But in Nouvel's case, he decided to raise things further still to protect the underground parking from "once-in-a-century" type events that could flood the property.

Nouvel is by no means the first or only designer concerned about climate change. In Argentina, the Pérez Art Museum — owned by billionaire Jorge Pérez and opened in 2013 — is built on a system of piles and raised three meters above ground, allowing any floodwaters to pass underneath.

Flooding is a big issue in Miami, especially given the vigorous tides that storms provoke, both back and forth.

Pérez is also building two towers and a luxury hotel in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires's waterfront district, but without the same precautions. Why? For one thing, because Buenos Aires is less vulnerable than Miami to flooding, but also because Argentines don't like to think beyond the end of the month.

Planning ahead

Two years ago, NASA painted a fairly optimistic picture of what sea-level rise could look like by the end of the century. It's impossible to say with any certainty, however, what will happen, and if those numbers are off — if the waters rise more than 0.9 meters, a level experts see as being "manageable" — there could be devastating consequence for the tens of millions of people who live in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rosario and other coastal cities. The expansion of warm oceanic waters, melting mountain glaciers and loss of ice in Greenland and the Antarctic may prove decisive.

Flooding is a big issue in Miami, especially given the vigorous tides that storms provoke, both back and forth. One historic mansion had to be lifted onto higher ground in March 2016 to save it from floods. And in Miami Beach, the mayor, Philip Levine, has vowed to spend $400 million to raise streets and pavements and install pumps to drain flood zones.

Argentine developer Alan Faena, the man behind the Faena Art Center in Puerto Madero, hopes Authorities in Argentina will take similar precautions.

And yet, the three buildings Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is designing for Faena in Miami don't seem to take climate change into account. Strange, but perhaps there's more to Koolhaas's approach — or apparent lack there of — than meets the idea. For a Dutchman, after all, "anticipating floods is as ingrained in one's mind as riding a bike," as Koolhaas says.

There's a reason for that: floods killed thousands in The Netherlands in the 1990s and thousands more had to be evacuated from their homes. Now the Dutch are sharing their expertise with U.S. cities like New Orleans and with cities along the Norfolk coast in England. So what is the Dutch strategy? The prevailing opinion right now is to let the water in, through and out, and learn to live with mother nature instead of dominating it. Those are the people, after all, who designed big parking lots that double as flood reservoirs.

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.


South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.



In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.


Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️


"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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