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Up To Olympic Standards
The Los Angeles Coliseum undergoes a monumental renovation
Tales of Terrazzo
Matt Woods leaves every inch uncovered in a renovated Sydney cafe
Big Move to Borneo
Indonesia will move its capital to Borneo
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was reelected to serve his second term in office this year, announced last week that the country will move forward with plans to relocate its capital from the megacity Jakarta to the island of Borneo. As AN reported in May, the move will allow the Indonesian government to conduct its operations in a city that is less crowded and less congested than the current capital, which currently faces serious threats from natural disasters. The BBC reported last year that Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities—a predicament that imperils its 10 million residents (30 million if you include the metropolitan area).
Widodo’s most recent announcement clarified some of the details of the move, including which province will host the new capital. East Kalimantan spans much of the eastern coast of Borneo—an island that Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei—and has three main population centers: Balikpapan, Samarinda, and Bontang. Rather than crowning one of the existing cities as Indonesia’s new capital, a new settlement will be built on government-owned land between Balikpapan and Samarinda. The location was chosen over Indonesia’s many other islands and provinces because of its location at the geographic center of the country and relative lack of natural disasters. While Java, Sulawesi, and other islands have been struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and major storms in recent years, East Kalimantan has sustained little damage. The province benefits from comparatively well-developed infrastructure but is also well-known for deforestation as palm oil plantations have expanded throughout Borneo’s jungles.
Perhaps looking to avoid accusations of escapism, Widodo has assured the Indonesian public that the relocation of the capital does not represent a wholesale abandonment of Jakarta. The metropolis will continue to serve as Indonesia’s financial center, and the national government will invest in measures to mitigate the effects of crippling traffic and climate change. Officials also hope that moving government operations out of the city will help to alleviate strains on the city’s infrastructure. Still, the relocation effort will be an expensive endeavor, with most estimates placing the total cost of moving the capital at 466 trillion rupiah, or $33 billion. Widodo has indicated that funding will come from a combination of public funds, state-run enterprises, private corporations, and public-private partnerships.
Even with the criticism that Widodo and local officials in Jakarta have faced over the city’s increasing dysfunction, moving the capital may seem like an extreme step, but several countries have made similar moves in history. The United States commissioned Pierre Charles L’Enfant to concoct a plan for a new capital city in 1791, which led to the development of what is now known as Washington, D.C. in a sparsely-populated swamp. In the 1950s, Brazil decided to relocate its capital from Rio de Janeiro to the hinterland, where it built the current capital city of Brasilia as a modernist beacon of the country’s progress. In many cases, including that of Indonesia, leaders have cited capital relocation as a strategy to bring investment to less developed parts of a country.
Still, the decision to move the seat of government away from Jakarta marks a significant moment in Indonesian history. Formerly known by its Dutch name Batavia, the port city has served as the nation’s capital since it gained full independence in 1949 and as the capital of the Dutch East Indies for centuries before that. In the precolonial era, the settlement served as the seat of several kingdoms and sultanates.
Widodo and the Indonesian government have indicated that they intend to begin construction on the new city as early as 2021, with the actual relocation of the capital slated to begin in 2024.
Tiptoeing through the Tulips
Paris will install controversial Jeff Koons gift on the Champs-Élysées
Space for Space
Virgin Galactic unveils ultra-lux Gateway to Space
Virgin Galactic, the branch of the British Virgin Group corporation that aims to render commercial space flight a reality, has officially unveiled the interior of its "Gateway to Space" building at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert. The facility will play a critical role in the company’s space tourism endeavor, including as a workspace for Virgin employees and a waiting area for the families of prospective private astronauts.
The Gateway to Space building sits on the 18,000-acre Spaceport America campus and was originally designed by the international architecture firm Foster + Partners in 2011. With Virgin Galactic’s civilian space travel program beset by numerous delays, the building has served primarily as an aircraft hangar for the past eight years. The now completed two-story interior is designed to accommodate lounge space for guests on the first level and staff offices on the second. A third floor, which is still under construction, will be used as a passenger training center for three days of coaching before each flight.
While one might expect a spaceport to be full of tech gadgets and screens, the design of the passenger lounge is surprisingly warm. Labeled Gaia, and designed by the London-based Viewport Studio, the lounge makes use of natural materials and colors that ground the space in the surrounding landscape. With expansive views of the desert just outside the Gateway's double-height windows, the natural wood textures, stonework, and earth-tone upholstery contribute to the overall visual unity of the experience. Most of the seating around the perimeter of the space faces outward, giving guests prime views of the land, runway, and sky. Viewport has worked with other branches of the Virgin Group before, including as an aircraft interior designer for Virgin Atlantic.
With a high-end bar at its center and all of the components of a first-class airport lounge, Gaia promises to live up to the swanky—and completely unprecedented—experience of space tourism. Only the families of ticketed passengers, each of who will pay upwards of $250,000 for a few moments of weightlessness at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, will have access to the lounge. Passengers themselves will also be able to use Gaia before and after their flights. Virgin Galactic aims to launch its first civilian astronauts into space in 2020.