Environmental storm: the clouds are gathering

October 16th, 2019

For almost fifty years now there has been a debate about pollution, climate change, overpopulation, over-consumption and whether or not we are bringing doom upon ourselves. It began as a whisper, but now the swell of voices is rising, and in the virtual absence of corporate and governmental action, more and more people – among them the young who will inherit the earth from us – are trying to force change. At the core of this movement is the admittance that, regardless of whether or not we are causing global warming, we are turning this beautiful planet into a gigantic garbage heap.

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Discover the other side of the horizon

October 1st, 2019

Living on or visiting the Marbella coastline, we spend a lot of time looking out to sea and surveying the horizon. In the distance, the outlines of Gibraltar and North Africa sometimes seem close enough to touch – and indeed, whether you take a ferry, yacht or make use of a new half-hour Ryanair flight from Málaga to Tetuan, Morocco is just a short distance away.

So close and yet so different; the short hop across the western edge of the Mediterranean opens up a world of discoveries and an insight into an exotic world of casbahs, minarets and the call of the muezzin. It’s all just on the other side of the water we are so familiar with, where historic cities and beautiful mountain ranges mirror those of Andalucía. Despite the impact on the senses of a place that still has an almost medieval feel in places, where the scent of spices and natural fragrances hangs in the air, there are also definite similarities with Andalucía, for if you’re familiar with the white-plastered villages of southern Spain you will come across places that bear the hallmarks of centuries of interaction between these two shorelines.

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Scandinavian Design

July 26th, 2019

Scandinavian design has had a large impact on what we consider to be modern architecture, cosy interiors and contemporary style, and it’s a force that has been felt on the Costa del Sol too.

The recent shift to sleek, modern architectural styling and bright, spacious open-plan interiors forms part of an international design movement, but while it is locally mostly interpreted in an Andalusian-Mediterranean way, the Scandinavian influences are undeniable even here in Marbella. Add to this the fact that the past few years have seen a large increase in the number of Scandinavian homeowners, tourists and permanent residents, and suddenly it becomes clear why Nordic design and interiors are now the leading style movement in our region. Put differently, we’ve been introduced to casual chic and contemporary hygge, and I’m not so sure we’ll ever leave it.

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Being British and the Origins of Brexit

May 13th, 2019

Quite apart from the to and fro deliberations about Brexit and its many implications, it is interesting to ponder the concept of Britishness and how this has led directly to the process we’re now witnessing.

Ok, I’ll say it: Brexit is inextricably linked with the uniquely British sense of identity as a concept of being ‘different’. Of course, we’re all different; different individually, by nationality, etcetera, but the British have a sense of differentness that forms the very core of their national identity. It’s not for nothing that Brits are not exactly famous for learning languages or assimilating into host cultures, and the fact that anyone who is not British is forever a foreigner – even if it is the Briton who resides in someone else’s country – reflects a mentality that is, indeed, very different from most modern nations. Read the rest of this entry »

Frank Gehry, ‘Starchitect’ of the modern era

March 25th, 2019

The man who gave Spain – and the world – the Guggenheim Museum is a master moulder of shapes, using new materials and technologies to usher in a fluid 21st century definition of architecture.

Gehry international masterpiece – the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Think Gehry and you picture the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but of course this celebrated ‘starchitect’ who helped to define the shape of the modern era has many more famous edifices and projects to his name. They include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Louis Vuitton art museum and cultural centre in Paris, the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, to name a few. Named “the most important architect of our age” by Vanity Fair in 2010, many of Gehry’s most famous designs involve museums and other large public projects, yet he also managed to raise eyebrows and shift boundaries when creating the now-iconic academic complex – known as Building 32 – for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Not surprisingly, given his stature around the world and particularly in North America, Frank Gehry was also chosen to give shape to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC. Read the rest of this entry »