What are the sounds usually associated with a city? The irritating ones issued from cars hooting, tyres screeching, trams rumbling, from air-conditioning units humming relentlessly? From ambulances swishing by with sirens amplified by the Doppler effect that hurts our eardrums and sets our minds on alert? When embarking on a trip to a busy metropolis, an undistinguishable concoction of man-made noise will have to be tolerated as an inevitable part of the package. Positive connotations are asking for more pleasant experiences, though.
Conquering an urban jungle by mapping it out via the typical sounds it exudes, is an idea temporarily put into practice in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam during an “ambient marketing” campaign: from interactive audio billboards, the “Sounds of the City” could be tapped by means of a personal headphone plugged into jacks directly embedded in the “neighbourhoods” of choice.
Reading time: about 2 minutes
The soft sides of a business queen
It’s been a long and sometimes painful journey through a jungle of misconception and prejudice. Both seem to die as hard as any of the bad habits the world so happily cultivates. Finally it looks as though Frankfurt – Hesse’s largest city (but not it’s capital, that’s Wiesbaden, you didn’t know that, did you?) manages to shed its unjustified reputation as an inapproachable, calculating, frigid financial hub. With nothing else on its urban mind than to tag along the leading string of insatiable banking institutes who vainly established themselves in the prime areas of town pointing their noses high in the sky. And whose sole purpose (allegedly?) lies in maximising their own riches and, thus, recklessly minimising everybody else’s.
Reading time: about 5 minutes
For the conscientiously-thinking German of the past centuries, keeping physically fit was equal to a national duty to be fulfilled – like going to church on Holy Sundays. Not a chance of ever playing truant. The constant surveillance by a rigorously watchful society saw to these rules not being neglected. Meanwhile in Germany, like in any place else in the world, people who work out regularly on a voluntary basis have become rarer and those zigzagging between sporadic exertion and hard-core couch-potatoing a sad majority.
German discipline was worthwhile being exported to ensure that far-away expats would not forget to stay in shape. And this is how the German Gymnasium at King’s Cross came to be. The money for „the first purpose-built gymnasium in the United Kingdom“, opened in 1865, was raised entirely by the German Gymnastics Society and the German community in London. 6,000 pounds well invested. Even women were allowed to use the facility: a freedom otherwise alien to ladies of that era.
Reading time: about 4 minutes
The magdas hotel’s homepage not only displays a pretty witty sense of humour and fluffily formulated descriptions. It also shows deep respect for a cause. When scanning the site for the hotel’s location in Vienna, visitors casually learn that it is situated near the city centre, in the vicinity of the Danube Canal mottled with cool clubs and pubs and close to the „Prater“, the popular amusement park that offers space for a wide variety of outdoor activities and sports Vienna’s famous landmark, the Ferris Wheel. Good access from all angles, a key factor for hotels getting booked, is definitely given.
But most importantly for the magdas, it lies within easy reach for its employees „because we want to spare them another round-the-world trip when commuting to their workplace“: magdas staff almost exclusively comprises refugees who descend from 14 different nations. Amongst them, they speak 23 languages. Dinis, the receptionist from Guinea-Bissau, alone is versed in seven! He came by boat. It took almost ten years to be granted asylum.
Reading time: about 3 minutes
When South Bridge was built around the end of the 18th century, it was not solely constructed in order to connect the Old Town of an expanding community with its Southside, but designated to become the city’s very first purpose-built shopping street. Underneath, embedded in the viaduct’s 19 arches, lie a series of chambers known as The Edinburgh Vaults. Back then, they mainly served as a practical storage area for the shops above.
Reading time: about 4 minutes