ATLAS 08 english

Page 1





A New York, Swiss style CHRISTIAN HEINRICH

From building site to operating table CLEMENS PLANK

Compacted clay


The strongest of statements HARALD MARTENSTEIN

Chocolate, wine and video clips

Also: Cities and soccer, travelers and workers, tweets and trains

We humans have an insatiable appetite for new ­stimuli. We never tire of wanting to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, experience, learn something new. That is the essence of human nature. It allows us to evolve, preventing us from becoming bogged down in old routines. We extend our antennae in every direction, harness our abilities in versatile ways, and are only too happy to succumb to distractions. Variety may be the spice of life but it hinders concentration. Our smartphones are constantly vibrating, as loudspeakers roar, computer monitors flash and big screens flicker.

Distractions and non-stop alarms: our brains can only process two simple tasks at a time; more ­confuses it and impairs its function. Scientists have shown how people’s mental capacities deteriorate significantly at a noise level of between 50 and 60 decibels, the level of a typical conversation. Anyone trying to concentrate under these conditions will necessarily find it stressful. The Greek philosopher Diogenes, arguably the first minimalist in the ­history of humankind, hid inside a barrel to find the peace he needed to think. Mental productivity requires an environment that keeps distractions at bay.

As machines perform more and more routine tasks, the ability to concentrate is growing in importance. Creative thinking cannot simply be delegated to computers. And intense contemplation is impossible if there are constant interruptions; to produce something of significance we need the ability to focus. Our brains need breaks, too: a 15-minute nap at midday increases the output of office employees by an average of 35 percent. Mental composure is the key.

Nasser Bouchendouka can afford to laugh. The Algerian is very popular among his workmates who appreciate his help­fulness and sense of ­humor. Since 1998 he has been handling goods at GW Altenrhein, mostly preparing them for ­export. In the evenings his three children keep him on his toes.


oncentration is flexible in quality and quantity. It can be learned and improved. It can channel our mental resources or be diverted by distractions. We can even lose its thread and become sidetracked completely. Because we are human beings and not machines, our brains and bodies need this alternat­ ing mix of stimulation and relaxation. There are, however, situations that require our utmost attention. So we met with people whose jobs demand total concentration. We also looked at the effects of population density on cities – another form of concentration. And we visited Toronto and Hanoi to explore ways of coping with urban sprawl. Now it’s time to concentrate your mind on this new issue of ATLAS . Or, alternatively, to allow it to ­wander through the many worlds presented on its pages. It’s completely up to you – and how focused you feel.

Best wishes, Gebrüder Weiss

CONCENTRATION 1: ON THE ROADS Proportion of cars per 1,000 inhabitants Germany (2016)


Austria (2015)


CONCENTRATION 2: IN THE ATMOSPHERE In 2016 the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was higher than ever. At no time did it fall below 400 parts per million.

Source: German Motor Transport Authority,



ALONE 1 Landlubber captains: in cooperation with other European companies, engineers at Rolls-Royce are currently developing an autonomous container ship. However, the revolutionary new vessel will still need to navigate the laws of the International Maritime Organization: currently these only apply to ships that are manned and operated by crews. The year when the first “abandoned ships” are due to sail the seven seas:


ALONE 2 The number of people living alone in Austria is expected to rise sharply

2011: 1.33 million Estimation for


1.56 million Source:

EXPANSION Online retail sales in western Europe are steadily increasing (in billions of euros):

EXTENSION A comprehensive road construction program is being planned in Kazakhstan, by area the world’s ninth largest country.

2,787 km – the length of the Kazakhstani part of the new transit route between western China and western Europe – is on the verge of completion

2,000 km is due to be upgraded by KazAutoZhol AG during the next few years




2017 (estimated)













AIR SAFET Y The world’s airlines transported some 3.7 billion passengers during 2016 – almost twelve times as many as in 1970. Statistical probability of dying in an airliner crash:

555 km of new road is being opened

2,500 weigh stations already exist but 80 % don’t meet the legal standards set in 2015

260 new weigh stations are planned Given the anticipated increase in transit traffic, Kazakhstan is hoping that the new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB ) and the Silk Road Fund will help to fund improvements to its road network. Source:

On average in the

1970s: 1 : 264,000

Flying has become

2016: 1 : 12,847,000 49 times safer.

Source: JACDEC (Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre) and Aviation Safety Network (ASN)

GROWTH From 2006 to 2016, by Gebrüder Weiss. Employees

2,500 new jobs were created




The world in motion:


A New York, Swiss style





The strongest of statements


The perfect way to relax






Fully focused Hands up!



The smarts to succeed



Compacted clay



Everything to excess



Capt’n Ferdi and his crew: Just concentrate!



The lightning pace of life



Waiting for the blister to burst


From building site to operating table




Orange network


Chocolate, wine and video clips











6 p. 10/11 The Sharp Centre for Design  1 Street musician Jason Hard gets into the swing.  2 Curiosity and laughter welcome outsiders. 3 The big “Toronto” on Nathan Phillips Square is a favorite meeting place.  4 Traffic signs on a corner in Parksdale  5 Shopping in Chinatown 6 Sam, who is homeless, carves eagles and other figures from soap on the city’s streets.



reportage:  Rainer Groothuis


t the airport there are so many taxis waiting for fares, so many different faces looking your way – it’s like being watched by the world. You take the first one in line, like everywhere else, and even though the “Taxicab Bill of Rights” is displayed on the back of the front seat proclaiming that customers are entitled to “a silent ride,” curiosity wins the day. We each want to know where the other comes from, including the why. After a 20-minute trip downtown on the ten-lane highway 427 South, past high-rises from the past two decades and frequent glimpses of Lake Ontario, my Mexican driver Enrique sums up his world view: “We’re all from somewhere else; we all want a new life, so we let other people have their chance, too.” And adds, “We got jobs. We got no problems. It’s a good life here,” as he drops me off at the hotel. It is manned by a motley crew: the young receptionist has Spanish parents, his colleague emigrated from Peru, the server hails from India, the errand boy from Haiti. In a place where this amalgam of humanity seems so natural, falling prey to your own clichés is easy: when an Asian woman begins serving at the next table, I’m expecting sushi. It’s pasta. We’re at an Italian place; we’re in Toronto. Canada is proud of its past, which reads like a history of hope. The prospect of a new life, a life in which you can feed your family by the sweat of your brow and follow your dreams; the prospect of respect and a shot at happiness. That aspiration attracted millions of immigrants from England, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Ukraine, Poland, Croatia and the United States to Canada. Next came peoples from India, the Caribbean, South Africa, Latin America and many from China, joined more recently by refugees from the war-torn Middle East and North Africa. And hope can catalyze: Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, its gross domestic income on a par with Germany and Austria.

Diversity defines this country as it celebrates its sesqui­ centennial, turning just 150 in 2017. Nearly ten million square kilometers make it the second largest country on earth – 28 times the size of Germany, but with half its popu­ lation. The overwhelming bulk of Canada’s economic and cultural prosperity is created along the border to the United States, in a slim belt measuring 8,800 kilometers in length and a mere 350 in depth. Some 90 percent of the nation’s 36 million in­habitants live within this swath; the northern regions are only sparsely populated and largely abandoned to nature. Whereas we Europeans sometimes struggle with “immigration,” Canada admits some 300,000 “foreigners” each year, greeting them in “Welcome Centres.” Many newcomers head for Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario. Long the nation’s largest city, its populace grows by 100,000 annually – even faster than New York.

WHEREVER YOU MAY COME FROM “Where there are trees in water”: the original Mohawk word for the city referred to a trading post and meeting place. Sky­scrapers may now rise on the banks of that water but ­Toronto has remained a major crossroads – and a very colorful one at that. Today less than half of its inhabitants are Canadian-born; the people here hail from around 180 countries and speak some 140 languages and dialects. English is the lingua franca, but it comes in countless geographical flavors. Incidentally: the locals call their city “Toronno.” The second “t” is silent. When checking into my hotel I experience my second trademark Toronto moment: the everyday affability. These may all be superficial niceties, but just a few words convey a little bit of respect, help establish a positive mood and take friendly control of an encounter. Direct eye contact is key. Toronto is a first-name city, and ubiquitously so: you’re all instant friends, wherever you may come from. I find levity and

Graffiti – everyday art for everyman, virtually everywhere

irony at every turn: an ice-cream parlor dubs itself “Death in Venice,” an upscale boutique “Coalminer’s Daughter,” another “Lazy Goose.” A sign asks guests gathered outside a restaurant to keep their “lovely voices” down during evening hours. Mutual deference even manifests itself in traffic: people crawl along so ploddingly that rental-car drivers from Europe are soon driven to distraction. Smoking is regarded as a plague, prohibited even at the bistro tables outside the coffee shops. A pack runs for the equivalent of ten euros, best bought at Chinese establishments where cigarettes are sold from ­under the counter like some dubious contraband.

KALEIDOSCOPE STREETSCAPES  The red and white streetcars creak along on their rails; the taxis blaze red and orange, green and ocher, black, and white; fluorescent orange school buses lumber through the traffic. Graffiti abounds on shops and facades: people power lays claim to the city. Whether fanciful or factual, this at times wonderful form of urban art is the expression of experiences, hopes, dreams, concerns and fears. Culture and politics are mirrored here: it is the way the Torontonians adorn their ­public spaces. With art that is accessible to everyone free of charge, art that turns faceless facades into stages for statements and proclamations, art that no one here wants to erase. Quite the opposite. Past meets present, the old is juxtaposed with the new, lending many roadscapes a charm all their own: new residen-

tial high-rises abut two- and three-story edifices, housing shops at street level and apartments upstairs. At 550 meters, the aptly named CN Tower is visible from virtually everywhere. In fact, Toronto is second only to New York when it comes to the North American skyscraper census. Fronted by tiny yards and tidy driveways, the red-brick homes with their pointed gables and bay windows recall ­London’s modest row-houses. Next door, right behind and between them, stand the lighthouses of today’s global age that have been springing up in Toronto since the 1960s. Viljo Revell designed the new City Hall built in 1965, Mies van der Rohe the Toronto-Dominian Centre begun in 1967, and Will Alsop the Sharp Centre for Design. Frank Gehry was responsible for the renovation of the Art Gallery of Toronto and Daniel Libeskind for the extension of the Royal Ontario Museum; Sir Norman Foster created the Dan Pharmacy Building and Fumihiko Make the Aga Khan Museum that opened in 2014. The Distillery District marks a counterpoint: the former production site of Gooderham and Worts – once the world’s largest distillery – is the place to go for entertainment. The historic brick factory halls have been overhauled and now house bars, galleries and specialty stores. All year round events spark the curiosity of the city’s residents. The “Toronto Light Festival”, currently underway, features mobile install­a­tions that illuminate the chilly evening. Bay Street and its environs are home to the behemoths built by the banks and insurance companies in steel, concrete

and glass. While cutouts of the sky remain visible, the hot-dog stand at the foot of the Bank of Nova Scotia tower subsists in perpetual shadow. Sandwiched in between, the British Colonial Building nostalgically recalls the monarchial splendor of bygone days. The shopping district with its big-name retailers reveals that not everybody makes it, even in Canada. At 8:00 a. m. the poor shuffle through the streets, combing the rubbish bins for returnables and edibles; these people live in sleeping bags somewhere, and each stares fixedly at a proffered dollar bill. It could mean a coffee at “Tim Hortons” – or a shower. Health insurance costs virtually nothing, there are at least ten days of paid vacation per year, the swimming pools are free, and taxes are lower than in Germany and Austria. But life does not come cheap. Many begin their working lives early; those who capture a part-time job start earning their keep at 16 or 17. In most families the children receive no allowance at all – or just a pittance: living off the fruits of one’s own labors is the norm, learned young and practiced until retirement. Some need to work two or even three jobs to cover the cost of living in the city. Near the business district: the Eaton Centre, Toronto’s ­largest shopping mall, sprawls over six levels holding 300 shops, cinemas, discos and hotels. Interchangeable with every other mall in the world, with rents only the global players can afford, it offers the same merchandise as everywhere else. The St. Lawrence Market around the corner, a covered hall dating




1 The Art Gallery of Ontario, which was designed by Frank Gehry, with the reflection of the bay-and-gable houses opposite.  2 The CN Tower ­rising above the city’s main station. 3 Steel meets stone: the facade of Daniel Libeskind’s extension to the Royal Ontario Museum can be seen on the right.  4 Along Bay Street  5 Backed by a new facade: the ­historic “Zanzibar Tavern.”





Colorful street scenes in a colorful city

back to the 19th century, is more interesting, if somewhat spruced up for the tourists. Next door are entrances to the PATH , Toronto’s marvelous “underground” in the literal sense of the word: a 370,000 square meter subterranean network, punctuated with large squares connected by walkways, holding 1,200 shops and services. The bright colors and contrasts of the architecture tell a story of spontaneous evolution. This city has not been shaped over centuries by a predetermined identity to which anything new must adapt or conform. This is perhaps another reason why people get along with one another so well here. Incidentally: despite – or perhaps because of – its multi-ethnicity, ­Toronto is one of the safest places on the planet, with an ­astonishingly low crime rate for a city of its size. What was it Peter Ustinov said? “Toronto is a kind of New York run by the Swiss,” a testament to its relative safety and cleanliness.

URBAN ARTISTS AND GOOD NEIGHBORS When it gets warmer – notwithstanding that, when it’s freezing and the sun is shining, the birds here twitter as raucously as their European counterparts in May – the houses open up and the streets fill with people coming out to celebrate the sun. Spirits rise, radiating optimism in anticipation of what the new day may bring. Every street artist is a welcome sight. Like Jason Hard, a young songwriter from Vancouver who is playing guitar and crooning his ballads to an attentive crowd. On

­ udas Square, Toronto’s version of Times Square and framed D by colossal digital billboards, hundreds of onlookers follow the antics of a fire-eater while a virtuoso, almost-ecstatic percussionist battles his drums outside Eaton Centre. Along Dundas Street from the square: with its houses ­numbering over 2000, it charts the path to less affluent neighborhoods, heading past Kensington Market and Chinatown, Little Italy and Little Portugal, connecting the nouveau riche to the older parts of town that look slightly the worse for wear. The changing smells of the myriad street foods mix and mingle in passing with the occasional whiff of a freshly rolled joint; patchouli is not a thing of the past here. These small neighborhoods – that sometimes comprise only a few streets – have been forged into communities of kindred spirits for a vast variety of reasons: culture, religion, heritage, interests, attitudes, history. Yet they remain access­ ible to everyone, extending open invitations to their street festivals and cultural events: a far cry from a closed ghetto. Depending on how you tally, there are up to 140 such neighborhoods in Toronto. Many have their own websites like ­ and; some even publish weekly or daily papers and broadcast local-language TV and radio programs. This is a place where a foreigner sparks curiosity at best; some yield to temptation and simply approach you. “I’ve seen lots of people walking around, taking pictures. Why?” a man



asks me in Parksdale, one of the poorer areas. He doesn’t realize how “picturesque” his colorful but rundown neighborhood looks to strangers sauntering through the city – his expression reveals how perplexing he finds the notion.

UNPLANNED SUCCESS If a municipal development plan ever existed for Toronto, it has been the world’s best-kept secret. No one has ever heard of one. Toronto isn’t growing denser, it’s spreading outward, stretching its tendrils into the surrounding region. There is no shortage of land. And when these outposts become large enough, they give rise to new centers, town halls, libraries. A case in point: Missisauga has evolved into a new city in the

greater Toronto area that now boasts more than 750,000 inhabitants. Much of the growth seems haphazard, driven by its own dynamic of economic success into vacuums waiting to be filled. But perhaps the ostensible aimlessness is due to the fact that so many currents come together here, converging into a constant flux. The competencies, combinations, experiences, passions and ambitions that connect all the various cultures create a market that is invigorated by innovation and imagination. Entrepreneurship is a survival tactic, fueling prosperity in this densely diverse place. Toronto has the highest concentration of start-ups in Canada, with an above-average percentage of self-employed. The city leads not only in services, but


also in manufacturing. Motorized vehicles are made in the metropolitan region; iron and steel are produced and processed along with foodstuffs; the chemical and paper industries are major forces. Yet another reason why the population is expected to double within the next 25 years.


A view of the skyline from Ward Island, one of the Toronto Islands.

Despite being the smallest of the five Great Lakes, Lake On­ tario’s 19,000 square kilometers make it nearly 20 times the size of Lake Constance. So large, in fact, that the first ­people who traversed it on log rafts and in canoes must have thought they were crossing an ocean. This is Toronto’s oasis – and yet another superlative feather in its cap. The Toronto Islands are namely the largest park landscape of any city worldwide, its islets connected by bridges and built up with wooden houses. In the winter these are paradise isles of sublime solitude, with hardly a soul in sight to see the squirrels scampering through the yards. The perfect setting for a good read in front of a crackling fire; one muses on bulky wool sweaters and drowsy dogs. Come summertime, the islands and their beaches are ­engulfed by the city’s sun and fun seekers: swimmers, windsurfers, kiteboarders performing their pirouettes. ’Tis the season for celebrating life, every evening, every weekend. Come summertime, work becomes an interlude and a necessary evil. Hemingway – who began his career as a journalist with the Toronto Star back in the 1920s and lamented how boring this city was – would be astounded by the caliber of its arts calendar. In the meantime Toronto can boast the third-largest theater portfolio in the English-speaking world (following ­London and New York), an opera seating 2,000 (the Four Seasons Centre), a significant literary scene, one of the world’s largest gay pride festivals, the Hip Hop Festival, the planet’s biggest fetish party … not to mention the vibrant, regular ­schedule of events. Which include the thriving tradition of the music clubs, where back-to-back acts start at 6:00 p. m. daily. “Canada partly owes its existence to sports,” John says as he leans over the bar of the Dog & Bear, one of the city’s famed pubs. There are a dozen different beers on tap and another ten in bottles. Lacrosse may be the national sport, but ice hockey matches and basketball games are showing on the numerous flatscreens. In Canada, ice hockey is a man’s world: brawls and other free-for-alls are tolerated – and the audience can’t get enough of them. But the second someone is down on the ice, the referee intercedes. Today, with Toronto’s own Maple Leafs playing, the pubs and clubs are packed. The mood is riotous: the homeboys haven’t won a trophy since 1967, the longest drought of any team in the league. Every goal brings relief, and an exultant chorus of “Yeah!” People are talking shop on both sides of the bar, boisterously spurring the players on as though they could hear their cheers. When the Maple Leafs finally take a 3:0 lead against the New York Islanders, it’s time to sit back and order another beer. People and their passions, teams and their troubles.

1 1 Top music is presented live at many clubs of an evening. 2 A “Light Festival” show in the Distillery District


The morning before flying back, one last stroll through the neighborhood. On the lookout for an early coffee I happen upon “Bu’na The Soul of Coffee” and meet Chris Rampen. He played basketball until suffering a serious injury; since then he has shipped limousines, filmed documentaries, offered boat tours on the lake. No one needs to know exactly what he did in Nepal. “There are lots of paths you can take through life. If one dead-ends, you find a new one,” he says with a grin. Where people leave their old lives behind and blaze new trails, detours become the biographical norm. Diversity can mean strength in an individual life as well. At this stage of the game, he owns a coffee shop that serves varieties from Ethiopia – ­exclusively. It’s a great brew, yet another discovery. It seems almost natural that Chris has a grandmother in Salzburg. Take care, Toronno.

Rainer Groothuis, born in 1959 in Emden / East ­Friesland, is managing partner at the communications agency “Groothuis.” With sincere gratitude to Giuseppe Arba, Markus and Erna Larcher, Vincent Schwerdtfeger, Jan Polley and the Torontonians for their curiosity, conver­sation and information. By the way, Toronto is the sister city of Chongqing, see ATLAS 2.


CANADA Canada is the second largest territorial state on the planet. Its sole direct neighbor in North ­America is the United States. Queen Elisabeth II is its nominal head of state, as the country is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. However, the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1931 and now has its own government.




ALASKA yukon, nunavut &


northwest territories

3.6 / per km2

CANADA british columbia



manitoba & saskatchewan

9,984,670 km2


Vancouver ontario atlantic canada

Ottawa Montreal




English French

EXOTIC EXCEPTION Trains have been running between ­Toronto and Montreal since 1857, and Canada has been building them. While today people prefer to fly or drive and private train travel no longer plays a significant role, rail freight is all the more important. At Central Pacific Rail’s 700-hectare site on the outskirts of Toronto, trains are assembled that deliver goods to the entire North American continent. What is unusual is not only their length of four and even five kilometers, but the fact

that the containers are stacked piggyback on their cars. Central Pacific is a tried and trusted GW partner in Canada and the United States. Gebrüder Weiss is reorganizing its operations in Canada. Within the course of 2017, the joint venture between GW and Röhlig will gradually be wound down; Gebrüder Weiss and Röhlig will again be appearing on the market under their own brand names (see p. 36), and GW will continue to manage the ­locations in Toronto, Vancouver and


Giuseppe Arba, Executive Vice-President WR Canada

Montreal. “In a country like this, where a decade feels like an eternity, a company with a 500-year-old history is an exotic exception. Everyone wants to do business with you – once they know who you are,” says Giuseppe Arba, Executive ­Vice-President of Weiss-Röhlig Canada, with a laugh. “We can cater more specifically to individual customers, meeting their needs and wants, and the U. S. and Canada will be more closely integrated within the GW family.” Sales Manager Markus Larcher adds, “Our logistics services are tailored to mid-size companies, and that special quality will feature more strongly.” New paths, new successes.


back:  Nadine Voinot, Markus Larcher, Karl Marzec, Vincent Schwerdtfeger front:  Ian Carlin, Richard Battice, Lydia Wu, Jayanthie Warnasuriya, Meenu Bassi, Romi Chanana



Eric Hsing (left) and Philipp Slappnig

Carolyn Garner and Issa Hajjar

The luxury train “Rocky Mountaineer” ­meanders gently through the wide expanses of Canada.


THE PERFECT WAY TO RELAX Gunthild Kupitz could obviously have taken the 90-minute flight from Calgary to Vancouver. But instead she took her time. And spent two days trundling across the Canadian Rockies on a train.

Every now and then a black bear ambles along the track.

text:  Gunthild Kupitz


t’s as if a giant had landed a devastating uppercut on the earth, a punch so powerful that it flipped the rock over on its back in one fell swoop – so steeply does the bare peak of Cascade Mountain rise above Banff. But as, with its twin diesel locomotives hissing, the royal blue “Rocky Mountaineer” leaves the small town of 8,000 inhabitants, the monolith slowly but surely shrinks to scale. And then vanishes out of sight. “All aboard,” the conductor had called just a few minutes earlier. And we had taken the stairs to the top level of the first-class carriage where the ­windows and glass roof showcase the spectacular panorama passing by – a ­real-life version of Cinemascope in 3D, so to speak. From here we would be able to experience the wonders of nature and – who knows – maybe even see ­Canada’s Big Five: elks, grizzlies, bison, ­cougars and wolves. We had about a day and a half, and almost 1,000 kilometers to go, before our scheduled arrival in Vancouver. It’s still early on this August morning, but the sky is cloudless and the sun has been shining for hours. Since our de­ parture, the train has been travelling upstream along the gently flowing Bow River, tracing its course deep into the Banff National Park. Established in 1885 when the transcontinental railway line was completed, it became Canada’s first nature preserve and has long been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bow’s banks are lined with mighty Douglas fir trees that mirror clearly in its waters, as do the snow-topped peaks

ringing the horizon. I am not the first to marvel at the majestic, silent beauty of the scenery. Suddenly – it’s already midday – an excited voice echoes through the carri­ age: “A bear! A bear!” Unperturbed by the screech of the wheels, a fully-grown black bear really is trotting along the slope, only to disappear ten seconds ­later. Despite its average speed of just 50 kilometers an hour, the “Rocky Mountaineer” slows further at particularly impressive or historically significant locations. The luxurious train service, which has been operated by a private company and offered package holidays for tourists since 1990, has to wait on the single track route while a freight train passes by. Some are several kilometers long and they all have right of way.

AT HELL’S GATE It was just a 130 years ago that a rail link was forged between western and eastern Canada. As expected, the most difficult section traversed the Rocky Mountains, a range created by shifting tectonic plates during the Cretaceous Period. And the engineers only had ten years to complete the audacious plan. They encountered some of their most daunting challenges at Kicking Horse Pass, where the terrifying gradient caused several derailments. In 1909 two so-called “spiral tunnels” bypassing the original route were drilled through the mountain, a technical miracle at the time. We enter it now too and are instantly eclipsed by darkness. Upon emerging, we head back to the viewing platform between the carriages

and enjoy the wind in our faces – with eyes only for the rugged beauty of the ­ravines, the glistening glaciers and the roaring rivers that are our companions. Until we reach Kamloops, a small, unremarkable town about halfway along our route. There we stop for the night. The following morning we first follow the Thomson River until its crystal waters flow into the brown Fraser River. We hope to spot salmon jumping the rapids as they head upstream from the Pacific to their spawning grounds inland. Unfortunately our luck is out. But we do see the occasional bald eagle soaring above our heads. Until just short of our destination, we will now be hugging the Fraser River, which narrows to just 30 meters at Hell’s Gate. Every minute almost a billion liters of seething water surge through the gorge which the train crosses on a short, red suspension bridge. It’s all but impossible for boats to negotiate this stretch of river unscathed – which lends added credence to its name. As we approach the Pacific, the mountains level out into gentle hills. And soon we enter the green suburbs of Vancouver. And civilization and the clamor of the city embrace us once again.

Gunthild Kupitz works as a freelance journalist and senior text editor in Hamburg. She fell in love with Canada’s countryside and will be returning for another visit when she can. But next time she will be heading further north – into polar bear territory.

Update Arrival

With distinction

Daniel Schachinger had just arrived in Tajikistan when we reported on his cycling trip in the last issue of ATLAS . In the meantime he has finished his tour of the Asian continent and arrived safe and sound in Mae Sot, on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. During the 295 days of his expedition he covered over 18,000 kilometers, crossed 19 countries, repaired ten flat tires and collected more than 4,000 euros in donations for the charity Together Against Landmines.

Heidi and Paul Senger-Weiss have been awarded the ­Vorarlberg Business Prize for their lifetime achievements in commerce. In the tribute, the orator emphasized how few people succeed in not only sustaining a traditional company like Gebrüder Weiss but in taking it to the next level as well.

Looking back on their achievements: Heidi and Paul Senger-Weiss (center)

Almost like flying Our author (see ATLAS 6) is still travel­ ing around Dubai in regular taxis. But in July 2017 a driverless drone taxi ­service is due to be launched in the city. The drone, which has an egg-shaped pod f­ or passengers, is an octocopter with four legs, each of which have two

rotors ­attached. When the legs are ­folded in, the drone can slot into a ­normal parking space. Passengers order the drone with an app, board at a pre­scribed pickup point, type in their destination and take off. The drone may ­appear to be driverless but its flights are

constantly monitored from a ground ­station. Journeys are ­limited to 30 minutes or a maximum of 40 – 50 kilometers. The drones can only carry up to 100 kilograms, so ­baggage checks are recommended.

Sitting on water Sponsored by Gebrüder Weiss, the ­design education project THONET STORIES – which we covered in the ­seventh issue of ATLAS – has reached its conclusion. On October 26 2016, the Anthonethe, a vessel built by students ­using Thonet chairs, was launched in Tbilisi and sailed safely down the Kura River! The Anthonethe and the THONET STORIES project team

The smarts to succeed New ideas for life in the city

In 2016 there were 512 cities with a population of at least one million. According to UN estimates, this number will rise to 662 by 2030. And by that year, some 60 percent of the world’s population will live in metropolitan areas: nearly 60 billion people living together at extremely close quarters.


text:  Imke Borchers illustration:  Pia Bublies


ngoing urban growth creates many a problem for big cities. For instance: how can people move around more freely without causing gridlock? How can per capita energy consumption be cut despite increasing demand? How can cities reduce their water consumption? And how can the daily accumulation of garbage be used to generate energy? Harnessing

today’s advanced digital technologies, scientists and private companies are making increasing headway in the realm of proactive, real-time urban control systems – aka “smart solutions.” And communities utilizing these networked information and communication techno­logies in their quest for sustain­ able economic, ecological and social solutions have christened themselves “smart cities.” “Smart” by design In Asia, planned cities are emerging which include cutting-edge urban control technologies right off the drawing board. One example is the Songdo International Business District located near

Seoul, the capital of Korea. Construction of this new residential and business zone for an estimated 70,000 inhabitants has been underway for almost 15 years now. And the final construction phase is due for completion in 2020. Wide-ranging data on the people who live and work in the district is collected around the clock. Public areas – and, indeed, some private premises – are under continuous video surveillance. The residents use multifunctional chip cards to access ­public transport, banking services and healthcare, not to mention their homes. Individual consumption and access data is downloaded from the apartments for


r­ eal-time data analysis – which in turn is leveraged for energy supply management. Hopes are high that the networked monitoring system can cut the use of ­energy and natural resources by up to 30 percent compared to conventional ­cities. Unlike these new urban centers – which have been planned from day one to optimize everyday routines – residential areas that have grown organically over decades or centuries pose different challenges for planners, as they strive to improve existing structures and systems. Solutions that are simple by design and efficient in operation are key to improvements in traffic, energy and data manage­ ment. The same applies to the integration of digital systems in urban administration and public life. Maintaining quality of life In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, ­parameters such as noise level, carbon

dioxide emissions, other air pollution data and capacity levels are recorded by sensors mounted in streetlights, sewers, traffic lights, and refuse containers etc. The readings are then analyzed to make urban management processes userfriendlier and more climate-compatible. A recent study (Quality of Living Rankings, MERCER 2016) rated ­Vienna as the city with the highest quality of life worldwide. With an eye to maintaining that status, the Vienna city administration has developed a smart urban strategy featuring a number of resource-saving innovations. These include an “A to B” app which displays the best route, re-

quired travel time and CO2 output for different means of transport between any two points. The app factors in the traffic conditions, users’ personal preferences and the weather ( Another large-scale project in Vienna is the construction of a new lakeside community in Aspern: a smart district for 20,000 residents on a 240-hectare site. When completed in 2028, it will boast ­ultra-modern energy-saving systems and an intelligent mobility strategy. The ultimate goal of these projects is not to increase efficiency, but to use the digitized data to create a climate-compatible and therefore sustainable city that provides a good quality of life for all its residents. There is no shortage of groundbreaking ideas and innovations, and their implementation is progressing steadily. Bring on the future!




Partnering with its majority shareholder ­Gebrüder Weiss, DPD Austria opened a “DPD City Hub” in Aspern late last year. This contains a temporary storage facility for parcels that can then be delivered to local destinations using eco-friendly, low-emission vehicles such as electrically powered bicycles and vans. With its handy opening hours, the hub also serves as a drop-off point for parcels and a collection point where recipients can pick up their consignments at a c­ onvenient time.

E-commerce has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly in the B2B and B2C sectors. As a result, the demands on services covering the final leg of deliveries – from intermediate storage to the final destination – have also increased. The time pressures are also increasing, with a tightly-knit network of storage facilities now needed to shorten “last mile” delivery times. Same-day ­delivery is nothing unusual nowadays, and ambitious providers aspire to deliver within a matter of hours. In their efforts to improve standards, courier, e ­ xpress and parcel ser­ vices are tapping ­innovative, smart solutions that help them to configure time slots and select the best delivery option:   transporting parcels using drones or robots   depositing consignments in car trunks   leaving consignments in a parcel shop or locker, for subsequent collection by the recipient   utilizing lockers for temporary local storage, allowing courier, express and parcel providers to deliver items by bicycle or electromobile over the last mile   enabling recipients and couriers to change delivery destinations and slots as required; networked booking systems allow customers to re-route deliveries at any time   notifying recipients of the projected or actual delivery time of a package

Imke Borchers, born in 1982, is a literary scholar and a jour­nalist for ATLAS.



On the road in Hanoi text and photos:  Miriam Holzapfel


“People, motor scooters, cars, ­noise; fruit in baskets, birds in cages”


t seems all but impossible to describe the Vietnamese capital without referring to the blaring chorus of car horns on its streets. Hearsay has it that the sound has become the city’s most famous “sight,” a nonstop racket reigning supreme in the big-city pandemonium. There is no relief, no escape. Everyone honks incessantly, first and foremost of course the millions of motor scooters that clog up the streets of Hanoi. Cars and buses are forced to play second fiddle. Roadrunners of every ilk announce their presence with a staccato fanfare: Watch out! Here I come! And you had really better watch out: the vehicles drive in a parallel procession along several lanes, passing each other on the left and right, while vendors at the periphery push bicycles overloaded with flowers and fruit, seemingly oblivious to the deafening decibels. Packed streets Yet the most remarkable thing of all is the fact that traffic doesn’t grind to a complete halt. All the vehicles keep moving, albeit ponderously, despite their sheer numbers. In a single synchronized sweep, the mass of metal crawls on like an army of ants. Panta rhei, everything flows, nonstop, which is actually quite astonishing in a city that seems far too congested to permit steady progress. Mopeds are the alpha beasts of transport, having usurped bicycles in the mid-1990s. Almost every household in the capital owns at least one, and they are used in much the same way as their four-wheeled cousins in Europe – to transport anything and everything. The whole family fits on one. The children lean against the driver and sleep or stand watchfully behind the handlebars at the front. Interest in cars is, however, also growing. The number of private households owning cars increases by almost one percent with every percentage point of economic growth. But there’s nowhere near enough space for them on the roads. By contrast, walking has almost no fan base in Hanoi, at least if the aim is to get from A to B and not enjoy the scenery along one of the city’s lakes.

Packed sidewalks Hanoi has obviously not grown organically with time but rather burgeoned haphazardly – in a process of development and urbanization that is still ongoing. Everything you see and hear comes in large quantities: people, motor scooters, cars, noise; fruit in baskets, birds in cages, meat at the stalls that line the streets. Odors. Emissions. The kinds of growth that place a heavy ­burden on the city’s infrastructure, a strain it cannot sustain. It starts with sidewalks that can scarcely serve their desig­-nated purpose. No one walks on them; here people are working, sitting around, buying and selling, and even ­riding their bikes. Not to mention parking their cars; the official lots are much too few and far between. The gaping ­potholes reveal that sidewalk maintenance is as rare as road repair. Reducing the strain Everything is jam-packed here, squeezed together sardinestyle. The proportion of space allocated to traffic within ­Hanoi’s city limits is between 7–9 percent, well down on the global average of 20–25 percent. Compounding the noise and space constraints, that means bad air and bad vibes. The Air Quality Index updated and posted daily by the American ­Embassy shows that the air in Hanoi is among the poorest in Asia; on bad days the airborne pollutants are the worst on the entire planet. Lots of people don face-masks before leaving home and some even sport thin, full-length hooded coats to keep the particles at bay. But life on the streets remains ­dangerous and debilitating. Traffic accidents are the most common cause of death in Hanoi, with the fatality rate one of the highest in the world. A few years ago the government took action, making helmets mandatory for all moped drivers. On the other hand, the prescribed headgear is only a thin ­plastic shell rather than a solid safety helmet, although the Vietnamese version boasts a much cooler look.


Public transport, which could at least relieve some of the problems, has played a Cinderella role to date. Subsidies for local services were halted at the end of the 1980s. But muni­ cipal planning is nonetheless a must for tackling the traffic problems, and the Vietnamese government’s chosen panacea is decentralization. The city’s skyscrapers now ring the center with its historical quarters and narrow streets. Several universities have relocated to these outskirts, joined by mushrooming bedroom communities. A bus-based rapid transport ­network – with its own lanes, modern vehicles and high-tech control system – is now due to be built with funding from the World Bank and other development banks. Underground and overground rail links are now under construction, one ­financed by Japan and the other by China. By 2020 half of the city’s residents should be travelling by public transport, which would make a critical contribution to clearing the congestion. And it would also muffle the madness on Hanoi’s streets. Now doesn’t that sound good? OFFICIAL INFORMATION WEBSITE ON THE NEW TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS IN HANOI:

Miriam Holzapfel is a cultural s­ cientist and a journalist for A ­ TLAS .

VIETNAM Because of the shape of this coastal state in southeast Asia, its people often call it “a bamboo pole balancing two rice bowls.” Fertile paddy fields fill its northern and southern regions, separated by a slim, mountainous swath of forest. The narrowest part of the country is just 50 kilometers wide; ­measured from east to west, no part is wider than 600 kilometers.




282 / per km2





2,109 U.  S. dollars (nominal, 2015)

Hung Pham (far right) and his colleagues in Hanoi from left: Mr. Dung, Ms. Phuong, Ms. Hoa, Ms. Trang

New Brand Strategy at Gebrüder Weiss and Röhlig: From now on the two companies will operate their air and sea freight ­ services independently Since 1999 the air and sea divisions at Gebrüder Weiss and Röhlig have been operating in tandem under the brand name Weiss-Röhlig. This close association is now being progressively relaxed, with the result that the two logistics companies will again be working under their own brand names in the medium term. All locations will all stay open, and do business under either “Gebrüder Weiss” or “Röhlig.” The operational collaboration will remain unchanged, as will relations with partners and customers. Like the subsidiary in Ho Chi Minh City, the location in Hanoi will also run under the brand “Gebrüder Weiss.” The top-story office is located on busy Tay Son Street in Dong Da, one of the four downtown districts. Its manager Hung Pham enjoys living in the capital. He knows that most young people head south to Ho Chi Minh City which, having been built almost exclusively during the last century, has a more modern reputation. Hanoi, by contrast, is the oldest existing capital in southeast Asia. And that fills him with pride.


The lightning pace of life GW employees talk about living in the big city


lobally speaking, anyone moving to a city is in a huge majority: worldwide, the main migration flows occur within individual countries. In the decades ahead billions of people will relocate to urban areas. A good move? We asked GW employees for their opinions on life in their countries’ biggest cities.



I moved to the capital of my country because I wanted to leave my ­comfort zone and find out whether I really could cope on my own. Every single day I discover something new here – like a beautiful old building or a skillful piece of street art. Everything is well organized in Budapest – as illustrated by the public transport system and the various sports events. There are so many things to do that sometimes it’s hard to decide: should I go ice-skating or check out an art gallery? But I also enjoy visiting my ­family in my old hometown. I know every nook and cranny and all the ­local people, and can get anywhere on my bike in a few minutes. I also ­enjoy sitting in the meadows and watching the occasional stag amble by. In that respect at least, there’s still no place like home.

Spending weekends or vacations in the country is really relaxing. But I still can’t imagine living anywhere else but Prague. Our children have everything they need nearby in our quarter. Their kindergarten, school, music college and sports center are all within a few ­minutes of each other. If I want a break, it only takes 20 minutes to get to Prague Castle with its medieval architecture. For longer distances I take the streetcar or subway. Boredom is never a problem either: there are loads of theaters, ­cinemas, galleries, restaurants, sports clubs and more. On the other hand, I think children have more freedom in ­rural a ­ reas. For example, they can make their way home alone from school.



I find life in Georgia’s capital very enjoyable. Tbilisi is exciting and you are never bored; there’s something interesting to do 24/7. Big cities evolve faster than small places: they are hubs of culture, industry and trade. Innovations surface earlier and get adopted faster too.


Bucharest – people almost seem to live at lightning pace here. Everything is so condensed that you really can say time flies. In the Romanian capital there’s no shortage of ways to relax: there are parks, major museums and all kinds of events. There’s a lot for foodies too: a great range of restaurants, fast service and personal delivery any time you want it. And you can always find somewhere to party – day or night. But if I want to recuperate and chill, nothing beats a village or small town. By contrast, time there seems to stand still. It’s the perfect place to recharge my batteries before heading back to the wonderful, larger-than-life, noisy and sleepless city of Bucharest!


Booming Shanghai is a city of unlimited opportunities. Although it has become one of the world’s most expensive cities, low-budget living is still possible here. Alongside the ubiquitous restaurants ­selling local fare, Starbucks coffeehouses and good Italian restaurants dot every district – ensuring an appetizing mixture of western and eastern flavors. Shanghai is the largest and one of the most commercially advanced cities in China. And that powers the employment market. What can small towns offer in comparison? Fresh air! In recent years pollution has grown much worse in Shanghai. But it has yet to reach the hazardous levels that you see in the capital.




Almaty may no longer be the seat of government, but it is still Kazakhstan’s biggest, liveliest and most interesting city. People of all nationalities call it home. Luxury brands are investing here, the city is flourishing and its economy growing at a breathtaking pace. But you can’t hide its Soviet past. The city is located on the Silk Road and one side is surrounded by the peaks of the Tian Shan mountain range, while the other opens up onto the steppes. It’s this contrast that makes Almaty unique. That’s why I’m so happy to be spending my life here. What’s more, the winter sports centers aren’t far away.


Life is good in Vienna. The city has so much to offer: lots of parks and woodland, and an abundance of culture and other leisure facilities. There’s something for everybody. And although big cities tend to be anonymous, it’s easy to meet people and make friends. That said, my home is on the outskirts and I can’t really imagine living downtown. Construction work has been going on in the city since I was a child. Sometimes I think it has changed beyond recognition. And then I feel sad. Of course, when it comes to air quality, traffic and crime, I would defin­ itely prefer to live in the country.

In a huge metropolis like Istanbul you can feel almost overwhelmed by all the ­options, especially compared to the country­side. Given its location spanning two continents and its cultural heritage, it really is a melting pot. People come from all kinds of backgrounds and there are countless opportunities to meet ­people and engage in social networking. The chances of self-improvement and building a career are far better in Istanbul as well. Of course it’s a very cramped place to live – the population density, ­pollution and ­heavy traffic all take their toll. Despite this, I prefer life in the big city. And I enjoy heading out occasion­ ally for a weekend. The countryside is just a stone’s throw away.

FROM BUILDING SITE TO OPERATING TABLE It only takes the charity Doctors Without Borders a few days to erect a treatment camp with its own small hospital – almost ­anywhere in the world. Thanks to a sophisticated logistics system and the dedication of its staff.


Andreas Karden, logistics expert at Doctors without Borders

text:  Christian Heinrich


Doctors Without Borders operates at numerous remote locations around the world, making logistics a key challenge – and the prerequisite for successful emergency care.

n June 2015, 21 women and men set out to rescue 80,000 people in the middle of the desert. Andreas Karden was a member of the team that the charity Doctors Without Borders had dispatched to South Sudan. As he sat in the aircraft, Karden tried to envisage the situation awaiting him. The civil war in South Sudan was heating up. A refugee camp already holding 40,000 had been veritably flooded by people displaced from other parts of the country. Some 80,000 had already arrived, making a total of 120,000. Karden and his ­colleagues would be trying to maintain supplies to the camp, thereby preventing a humanitarian disaster. But how much can such a small team really achieve? Well, Karden is used to moving mountains. The 36-yearold is responsible for logistics at Doctors Without Borders. He has already worked for the aid organization in Chad, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic – on assignments sometimes lasting eight or nine months. Karden – a trained fitter, paramedic and construction engineer – also has an MBA in Project Management. When problems need solving and resources need locating, he becomes the fixer. No matter how complex the problems, no matter how dire the situation, we always start out with one question, Karden says: “What do the people need?” When Karden reached the grossly overcrowded camp in South Sudan, he immediately identified his first priority: satisfying the residents’ most basic needs. That meant getting hold of wood to build lavatories. There were shortages of potable water, food and medicines – not to mention electricity. Where could he lay his hands on them? The Doctors Without Borders organization available to Karden is divided into three separate tiers. One takes action at the heart of the crisis: the emergency team. In South Sudan, this means Karden and his crew. They are backed by a national coordination team stationed in the capitals and major cities of


The aid organization’s responsibilities also include providing potable water from tank trucks.

the target countries. And they, in turn, liaise with the project directors who are based at the organization’s headquarters in Europe. If Karden needs something that is not available locally, he turns to the coordinators in the capital, in this case in Juba. “My colleagues then try to buy what I need in the shops and markets and then forward it on to me. You can always get hold of things like wood and buckets here. We would never fly those in from Europe,” Karden says.

“It stores medicines, relief supplies and prepacked emergency kits at one of its logistics centers in Brussels.” If the city-based staff still can’t fill the gap, they contact the top tier of the network: the operational directors in Europe. It is at this point that the charity’s global network delivers. Its sheer size translates into a reach that few other organizations can match. Its annual spending totals almost 1.3 billion euros. Currently Medécins sans Frontières, the international name of the charity that won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, manages projects in over 60 states around the world, in some cases with more than 1,000 staff in a single country. It stores medicines, relief supplies and prepacked emergency kits at one of its logistics centers in Brussels. This alone has 6,500 square meters of space, enough to store 20,000 different items ranging from the tiny chlorine tablets used to make drinking water through

to all manner of medical instruments and inflatable hospitals, and even power generators weighing several metric tons. The organization owns only a handful of planes, jeeps and boats for transporting goods – leasing them when and as they are needed is cheaper. In the South Sudanese camp, Karden and his team can successfully satisfy the most basic needs locally, or by obtaining goods and provisions from Juba or Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. But they also tap any existing resources – and any infrastructural groundwork that has already been laid. For example, in addition to then nine boreholes already sunk inside the camp, a 200-meter deep hole had also been drilled a short distance away. If they could get hold of pumps and pipes, they could create a dependable new water supply. Despite the existence of these wells, providing drinking water for 120,000 people remains a huge challenge. But Karden’s team was not left to fend alone. “Thirty other staff from Doctors Without Borders had already arrived at the camp months earlier, at a time when it only housed 40,000 refugees. Additionally, and this has been crucial, we managed to hire lots of locals quickly,” explains Karden. These new employees are what make the charity so effective – not only because of their numbers, but because of the knowledge they contribute. Soon Karden and his team had taken on some 500 people, mainly from South Sudan, who brought various and valuable skills and expertise to the table. They ranged from simple laborers through to


To care for casualties, inflatable hospitals are erected in crisis regions.

expert surgeons, making up another crucial link in the aid chain that is a mutual give-and-take. Basic supplies and ser­ vices are only the first step. Just a few weeks after Karden had arrived, Doctors Without Borders had already built a small hospital, with 50 staff, 180 beds and even one of the charity’s operating rooms! When the doctors took up their work on day one, there was a line of ­patients several hundred meters long at the door. It looked more like a production line than a healthcare center. Medical supplies can be very difficult to transport. Exceptional standards of hygiene need to be maintained and some supplies – such as vaccines – require refrigeration as well. The logistics managers therefore need to take even more care when planning than normal. Given the material value of many consignments, finding reliable partners is vital. The fact that the charity has operated in so many countries over several decades means that it already knows who it can trust. Sometimes, as a consequence, fully-functioning infra­ structures are up and running just a few days after a project has begun. Small transport planes, for instance, fly to and from Juba and the camp, much like the regular services between big cities. The medicines and materials needed in South Sudan are ferried in from Europe via Nairobi, either on scheduled flights or by sea. In this way the most urgent needs of the 120,000 refugees in South Sudan are met with goods transshipped through warehouses in Belgium and Holland.

With their efforts, Karden and his team gradually made a crucial contribution to creating humanitarian conditions in the overpopulated camp. In some projects, however, there is far less time to respond. Rather than weeks, he might only have days or even hours to ring in the changes. “If there’s a cholera outbreak, every minute counts,” he points out. “Quite literally, the basic supply systems need to be in place within hours.” The situation was similarly critical following the earthquake in Haiti, when hundreds of thousands lost their homes in a matter of minutes. If they work quickly, teams like the one run by Karden and his colleagues can save hundreds or even thousands of lives. Fast intervention would be unrealistic without the ready-to-go emergency kits stored in Europe. Some contain the basic supplies needed to sustain 1,000 people. Others package sterile instruments for operations, sufficient for even complex abdominal surgery. The political situation is often volatile in the war zones where Doctors Without Borders operates. The organization is extremely experienced when it comes to protecting its staff. Whatever the project, the national coordinators and project directors draw up estimates of the conditions and risks involved. “Our safety is in their hands,” says Karden. Despite precautions, colleagues often feel ill at ease when travelling in crisis regions. But they do know they are representing an organization that is highly respected – by all of the warring factions. Why? Doctors Without Borders helps everybody, regardless of their religion, political standpoint or ethnic origin. The charity’s logo, a human figure depicted using red and white lines, is displayed prominently on all its vehicles. Almost ­everyone knows what it means. If Karden is travelling in a jeep, children often gather around and cheer, because they know that aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders represent their best hope of surviving the crisis without lasting harm. “When I get out and about, I’m often reminded that I really am needed here, most probably more than anywhere else in the world,” he muses. “And that helps cement the conviction that you are doing the right thing.” However busy he might be, Karden always welcomes moments like that. Even if they don’t occur until the evening, when everybody is sitting around exhausted. Then they have the satisfaction of knowing that their day really has been spent making a difference.

Dr. Christian Heinrich studied medicine in Mainz and Valencia, and subsequently attended the ­German Academy of Journalism in Munich. Today he works as a freelance journalist, writing on various areas besides medicine: society, the economy, ­travel and current affairs.




A 3-D printing center has been opened in the port of Rotterdam. The aim is to create a kind of cloud-based digital warehouse containing designs of spare parts for the maritime sector. Rotterdam is hoping that this move will establish it as a hub for 3-D printing in the industry.

The port of Vienna, with seven million metric tons of goods per year making it Austria’s largest trimodal facility, are being further expanded. By filling parts of the harbor basin, an additional 70,000 hectares of handling space are due to be created. Simultaneously, the WienCont container terminal is being extended.

USA A GW -branded yacht took part in the Melges 24 World Championship at Florida’s Miami Beach Arena. The Swiss crew was headed by ­European Champion Chris Rast. Using a special cradle, GW also managed the delicate task of transporting the boat from Europe to the United States.

AUSTRIA Gebrüder Weiss is now taking over much of the Zumtobel Group’s distribution logistics between the Vorarlberg region and eastern Europe. As such, it is deepening its ties with the lighting solutions provider. To date, GW has handled its deliveries in Europe, Asia and Australia and provided warehouse logistics in Lauterach, Shanghai and Singapore.

SWITZERLAND The team at GW Altenrhein faced a colossal challenge: transporting a stone crusher from Switzerland to Croatia. Following some initial problems due to its weight being underestimated, the 90-metric-ton machine was finally delivered to its destination in just two days.

GERMANY The Gebrüder Weiss site in Mem­mingen, Bavaria, has been expanded. With two new 1,200 square meters warehouses and a handling facility extended by 3,000 square meters, the site is now capable of processing the increased order intake at a single location.




World premiere: a bridge with an integrated digital surveillance system has been built near Nuremburg. The innovative system monitors the state of the bridge, gauges the flow of traffic and provides feedback on its own projected longevity.

The first air corridor for drones on the African corridor is 40 kilometers long. Trials are being conducted in Malawi to see how effectively drones can deliver medication etc. to remote areas.

TURKEY Since the fall of 2016 Gebrüder Weiss has been handling local distribution and returns logistics for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Turkey. To this end the team at GW Istanbul has been opening its own, dedicated cross-dock facility where the individual flows of goods are consolidated and allocated to distribution routes. The team is also responsible for customs clearance.

SINGAPORE Gebrüder Weiss has been represented in the southeast Asian island state since 2015. With immediate effect, the location will be extending its service palette to include a bonded warehouse. This means that goods can now be stored there duty- and tax-free – and therefore without incurring additional costs for customers – until they are re-exported or cleared for import.

JAPAN An enormous photovoltaic plant has been built at Takayama in the prefecture of Gunma, with 100,638 solar panels installed on the 82-hectare site of a former golf course. Isolux Engineering G. K. partnered with the GW Group’s Japanese branch in this major endeavor. The site proved highly suitable, offering warehousing options near the port.

CHINA During the 2016 Christmas period the shipment volume for the automotive customer FAW rose from approx. 250 to over 490 metric tons a month. There were no scheduled flights on the public holidays, so the Air & Sea team promptly chartered a Boeing 747 8F Extended Range in Frankfurt and delivered the cargo to Beijing on time.


Hamlet @ william_shakespeare Presumed 1602 #Tobe or #nottobe, that is the question.

#allthebirdsarealreadyhere Twitter: A really tight squeeze

JFK @ KennedyClan June 26, 1963 I am a #Berliner.

JoanofArc @martyr circa 1429 Who, if not #us? When, if not now?


or Twitter users, short and sweet is the name of the game. They need to focus on essentials and condense their thoughts into a maximum of 140 characters. “Superficial!”, “Inadmissible!” and “Epic fail!” counter the advocates of thoughtful, slow-paced prose. But followers of tweets cheer their champions, praising their ability to pare ideas to the bone. Today even politicians are taking to the Twittersphere, many of them prolifically. And that takes some getting used to, not least as, in this medium, there is no room for argument – which is the very essence

Gustav Klimt @ ViennaSecession 1897 To every age its art. To every art its #freedom.

of political discourse. There’s nothing new about the phenomenon as such. After all, the distillation of language is one of civilization’s oldest cultural achievements. In that sense, brevity has always been the spice of life. Famous words were uttered long before the days of Twitter. In some cases that’s a real pity; they would have made great tweets. See for yourself!


Gaius Julius Caesar @ afterthebattleofzela May 21, 47 B. C. Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I #conquered.

René Descartes @ freethinker 1641 I #think, therefore I am.

Marylin @ NormaJeane In the 1950s Give a girl the right #shoes and she can conquer the world.

Neil Armstrong @ flymetothemoon July 20, 1969 That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for #mankind.

Maggie@ iron_lady 1980 The #lady’s not for #turning.


Artistic Director Elisabeth Sobotka talks about temptation, lies and truth, and the mesmerizing magic of the floating stage


From Vienna to the Swabian Sea: Elisabeth Sobotka

interview:  Miriam Holzapfel


very summer, crowds flock to the Austrian town of Bregenz. It’s the festival season and the pace of life picks up dramatically. Managing everything from ­behind the scenes is a finely-tuned organization headed by Elisabeth Sobotka. The Vienna native has been an impresario at the Berlin State Opera and, more r­ ecently, Director of the Opera House in Graz. In 2015 she was appointed Artistic ­Director for Bregenz. Already its official logistics partner, ­Gebrüder Weiss is also a co-sponsor of the festival with the world’s largest floating stage. Ms. Sobotka, you have spent time in Vienna and Berlin, among other places. What does a comparatively small town like Bregenz have to offer? Is it the lake? For the emotionality and inspiration, yes. But in terms of my profession, the main advantage is of course the festival, which in its specific form is only possible at the lake. It was a big change for me to abandon year-round operation and come here. The flurry of those six weeks is unique and strongly shaped by the water. Lake Constance is a very animated body of water and constantly changing. That’s an incredible challenge for the stage sets and their designers. It makes

everything seem unbelievably alive. No two days are the same: the lake is fabulous with fog, it’s fabulous with snow, it’s fabulous in radiant sunlight, in the morning and evening. And that’s the advantage for me personally: I always wanted to live by the sea, and have ended up at the “Swabian Sea.” What does the festival need to stand up to these forces of nature? Very strong images. We place icons on the lake, icons that represent the operas and linger in people’s minds. The eye for Tosca, for instance, or the skeleton for A Masked Ball. The image has to work in isolation; at the same time, it needs to provide a fitting stage for the performance and help convey its atmosphere. It must create a platform that allows everything to happen as planned – and serve as a counterpoint to the forces of nature and the elements. When that all comes ­together, it creates a magnificent, truly electric atmosphere. If your audiences are to register these visual statements, you need to know them well. How well? As far as their composition is concerned, very well. Audiences differ, of course. We are incredibly proud of the fact that literally everyone is willing to sit out there: from the opera aficionados to people who may have never seen an opera in their lives, or at least only very rarely. It has to work for both types: it must be artistically so outstanding that the cognoscenti will be wowed and at the same time seductive enough



to convince people with no existing interest in this art form to conclude they too like opera. Is that true specifically of the festival or of opera in general? No, it’s above all true of Bregenz. Because we can exert so much appeal here that people simply come to have a great night out on the town. The fact that they are seeing an opera is secondary. Those are people we want to mesmerize as well. We aren’t far from Switzerland and Germany here, and we tend to look towards cities like Munich, Zurich and Stuttgart. Vienna is too far away, geographically and in terms of people’s mindset. Those who live in the Lake Constance region are not always as interested in the “high arts” as people in the big cities, and we benefit from their proximity. At the same time, however, the region is culturally very vibrant. In that respect we have a very large catchment area in Bregenz and are trying to make the fascination that is opera accessible to a wider audience. Do the lake and its audiences influence the festival’s ­schedule? It’s certainly important that a work is well-known, because the performances on the lake drive the entire festival. In a good year, we have some 200,000 visitors, and it would be presumptuous to think that would happen with every opera. The choice of productions is therefore quite limited. I was asked at the start: “How can you go to Bregenz? You can only put on the ‘top ten’ of the operas there!” Of those so-called “charttoppers,” not all have actually been performed at the lake yet, which I find very amusing. And the range of options is, of course, larger than ten, in spite of everything. On the other hand, the pieces do need to have mass appeal. If the productions on the stage don’t generate enough revenues, the festival itself would struggle to stay afloat. But we can’t limit ourselves to popular pieces alone. I would never have expected the advance bookings for Carmen to be better than for The Magic Flute. That has stunned us all. But Carmen is really topical at the moment, it could be ­argued, given the resurgence of the women’s rights movements in the West. Or don’t you agree?

The problem is that we have a classic perception of Carmen in mind, one that is a far cry from the idea of emancipation and, instead, entrenched in social clichés … … you mean wild, untamed women … … who are ultimately punished for choosing freedom. It was important to me to find people for the team who would not trivialize the piece but rather ask questions like: How much control do I have over my life? What must I do for society to accept me? And, what am I really like? Such things typically preoccupy women more than men. Carmen’s status as a smuggler and gypsy makes it even harder for her to earn the respect of society. That, too, is a rele­vant issue, one that is often overlooked in Carmen. It matters a lot to me that we draw out this rele­ vance in our production, for only then do the works ­become truly ­enriching and gratifying: when I can relate to and identify with the events on stage. Carmen, for example, is driven by passion, not malevolence, when she seduces Don José. And then she gets bored with him – well that’s life! And Don José himself is not simply unable to cope; his mother is still



important to him. Micaëla, on the other hand, is often left underexposed, depicted as a harmless young blonde. But she is actually a very strong woman, who goes to Don José and says: “Look, do what you must, but hear one thing: Your mother is dying. And I am telling you this. There’s nothing in this for me, but I want you to know.” In my view, aspects like these often get lost in highly classical productions, even though they are part of the overall plot. But if we honor them, then Carmen becomes a terrifically topical and modern piece. Speaking of power and social acceptance: Does being a woman make life harder for you in your job? No. I happened to be coming through the ranks at a time when female quotas were important. So sometimes I do find myself in that “token” role, I am fully aware of that. But not at all at the festival here, in my view. On supervisory boards, though, positions like that, they are sometimes looking for a woman, any woman, and there aren’t that many female theater man­ agers to choose from. What is hard in our field is making the breakthrough from “serving” functions to production roles. Even today, lots of women in theater and opera are still considered best suited to doing the groundwork for the stars. In Berlin, I was the “servant” of Barenboim and Mussbach, two standout virtuosos. Seeing all that and then saying “OK , I’ve learned a lot, I can do that, and now I’m going to” – that was a big step for me. But just think, for instance, what women conductors have had to put up with to get where they are now. Simone Young, for example. It’s almost impossible to fathom what she went through. Seen from that perspective, is opera an anachronism? That depends on how you look at it. If you see it as a pleasure palace for the rich, for people who effectively sit around bored in beautiful surroundings, then yes. But I am for opera that sweeps you along, that ideally changes you, leaving you feeling either fulfilled and enthusiastic, or at least saying: “Wasn’t that ghastly! So stupid and fake!” Even that is better than hearing: “Ah yes, it was quite a nice evening.” What is perhaps anachronistic is the amount of money we spend on it. There’s no getting away from it, it is simply expensive: the orchestra, chorus, stage, soloists, the whole works; they don’t come cheap. But when everything falls into place, it is simply unbeatable.

What do I have to do if I want opera to capture my ­imagination and truly speak to me?

Of course, you have to prepare to be seduced, taken by the hand and transported into another world. Whether I conquer that world, or it conquers me, will have to be seen. My initiation was pretty standard. One evening I heard Domingo. I was a 14-year-old standee back then, and it really bowled me over. And that isn’t something that can only happen to me, it’s in the nature of music and the human voice which – together – can speak directly to the heart, if you are actually listening and willing to embrace it. I also have a high regard for introductory programs – they can be very helpful for beginners. So our job also involves planting the seed at an early age so that children and adolescents get the chance to discover this arguably anachronistic art form in all its vivacity. Not everybody has to be an opera fanatic. Nevertheless, it is incredibly important for children to take up an instrument, and to learn to listen to each other. To that end we need more music and art instruction in our schools and, more generally, more group activities. Art is always an act of giving and receiving, you have to be attuned to that, in everyday life as well. It doesn’t simply fall like manna from heaven. But if we allow ourselves to be touched and moved by it, it can tell us more about the world than we can see with our eyes. If opera tells us something about the world, is it lying or does it speak the truth? That’s the most fascinating thing about the theater for me. We know very well that it isn’t reality. And yet there are moments that touch us in a special way. We are not directly trapped in the confrontation with another person, so we can somehow transmute what we see and hear. We know it’s not real, and yet it still brings tears to our eyes. The opportunities to enter into communication with yourself and the world in this way, and to ask yourself questions you never thought of before – that is a gift. It is in the nature of our soul to nurture art and be nourished by it in return. And that is what makes opera at once both an illusion and a truth. | MH

Fully focused We’ve all been there, done that. Sitting at our desks, we start to daydream. We glance out the window and succumb to distraction. Happily the four masters of mindgames below stick to the straight and narrow. But they did find time to tell us about their work. interviews:  Carola Hoffmeister illustration:  Annegret Mair

JÖRG LÜDEKING is a second-generation watchmaker with his own workshop

The moment I flip the magnifying lens over my glasses to repair a watch, it’s like being ported into a different universe, a micro-world populated by tiny cogs, screws and springs. I approach them with a pair of tweezers and a screwdriver. Carefully I adjust the spiral torsion spring’s connection to the balance wheel, the mechanical heart of the watch. I need total concentration for this. If I make a wrong move and a minuscule part jumps out, I might never find it again in the workshop. When I’m repairing a watch, it’s as if time is standing still. I feel like I am disconnected from reality, as relaxed and tranquil as if I were meditating. It’s only when I put the case back together and remove the magnifying lens that I realize how demanding my work has been.


MARTIN HOPFE, explosives expert, has demolished over 500 buildings

Just before the blast I feel like the loneliest person on the planet – notwithstanding the constant walkie-talkie contact with my colleagues and the police. Up to 40,000 bystanders may be waiting with bated breath in the cordoned-off roads nearby. It’s at this ­moment, this threshold, that the fear of something going wrong is allayed by the realization that it is too late to intervene. As soon as the detonator button has been pressed, there is no going back. I alone have to cope with this feeling of limbo. Of course if we are demolishing a building we will have been making painstaking calculations for months, and planning everything down to the final detail – with the help of engineers and stress analysts. Little or nothing is left to chance. But I only really calm down when I have inspected the site afterwards. The concentration and nervous tension during the countdown are part and parcel of my profession. Thirty-four years of working in the field help me make it through those final minutes.


ULRIKE MÜNZER, air traffic controller, tracks flashing black rectangles on her radar screen

If I see lightning dart out from a thick cloud cover on my way to work, I know I will have to concentrate twice or three times harder than usual. As a flight controller for German Air Navigation Services, I am responsible for a defined airspace south of Frankfurt. Up to 40 passenger aircraft are crammed into this sector every hour. That’s a lot, and I often have to watch a dozen planes simultaneously. And make sure that they are never on collision course if, for example, a pilot needs navigate around a thunderstorm. I keep the planes at the ­prescribed distance and send instructions to the cockpits to avert potential risks. I monitor my airspace together with a colleague. As air traffic controllers, we need to concentrate so hard that we only work two hours at a stretch. There’s no time for talking, but knitting helps me relax during the breaks.


RENÉ LAY, stuntman, is still fit as a fiddle after 30 years of death-defying acrobatics

I stand on the window ledge on the sixth floor of a high-rise, a brick wall behind me and the wind in my face. Fifteen meters below are stacks of cardboard boxes. That’s where I will land when I go airborne. The cameraman, director and paramedics are waiting, all of them staring up at me. “Are you crazy?” flashes through my mind. After all, I am risking my life. But then the professional in me takes over and I calm down. I have taken everything into account: the weather, the landing area, the height. I imagine I am the actor I’m standing in for, a fugitive. That ups the tension another notch. I’m ready now. Inhale, exhale, tunnel vision – jump.

Carola Hoffmeister has a degree in literature and art history. Her job as a radio and magazine journalist takes her around the world. She has published books on her travels in Iran and Albania.


HANDS UP! Whether we want to say something affectionate or angry, whether we would rather mumble and stumble or state a position loud and clear, we need to use our voices – or our hands: almost ­ all spoken content can be expressed with the aid of gestures. In fact, we can communicate everything in sign language that we can with words. The medium is different but the message remains the same.



hy not try it out? We have displayed some ­important signs from the area of transport and mobility – in German Sign Language (DGS ) on this page and American Sign Language (ASL ) on the right. In spoken languages people articulate individual words sequentially using their voices, and together these form sentences like “The car races along a winding road.” In sign languages, by contrast, several pieces of information can be expressed at the same time, allowing the meaning of the MOTOR












sentence to be conveyed with a single gesture. Thanks to the additional options offered by three-dimensional space, hand shapes, movements, body posture and facial expressions can be combined into complex signs that ­contain multiple levels of meaning. So if you sign FAST and simultaneously shake your head, you can signal that something is “not fast.” If you sign CLOSE and raise your eyebrows, you can ask the question: “Is it close?” And you can communicate the length of a ­journey by moving your right hand forward while signing


DISTANCE . The further forward your hand, the greater

the distance. In these, and indeed far more complex ways, sign language can transmit numerous pieces of information simultaneously and in a condensed form. In spoken languages these are commu­nicated consecutively, as an extended series of words. One cannot say all the words in “The car races along a winding road” at the same time. In this respect, sign language is much more efficient. MOTOR










Selma Kuhlmann can understand information communicated in two ways – consecutively and simultaneously. She studied sign languages, English and multi­lingualism at the University of Hamburg, and Education at the University of Southampton. She works today as an editor.



Compacted clay Making the most of what’s already available


berg, optimized the traditional construction method which

interview:  Frank Haas  photos:  Alexander Kofler


he Vorarlberg native Clemens Plank is a freelance architect and lecturer at the University of Innsbruck. He builds houses from materials readily to hand, ­creating jobs where they are needed most. An interview on a brilliantly simple solution that is still little known. But hopefully not for long. Clemens, you’re building an educational center using rammed earth. Martin Rauch, a gifted artist from Vorarl-

you are using. When completed, the structure will be less vulnerable to earthquakes than conventional buildings. Can you explain your thinking for us in layman’s terms? What makes it special, actually almost miraculous, is that you

are effectively creating an edifice from soil alone. From stony material in a range of consistencies that you mix with loam or that is already mixed with it. Sometimes you can simply use the unadulterated soil you’ve excavated, but other times you have to add a little gravel or clay to make it easier to shape. You then cast the material in roughly 12 centimeter thick layers in the kind of mold used to create concrete blocks. Each layer is

left: The land purchased for the Wayna Warma educational center in Cusco is rich in clay. above: The individual layers of compacted clay are still visible in the freshly rammed wall.


Clemens Plank (top, seventh from the right): “The social aspect extends beyond what happens inside. It includes the building’s construction.”

The architecture provides for three types of functional spaces – communal areas, classrooms and administrative offices.

then compacted – either manually or mechanically. The wall then rises layer by layer until it reaches the desired overall height. And at this point the mold or formwork can be removed. The compacted material is almost as solid as concrete. The compression creates bonds between the rock particles, cementing the material together. You can hammer nails into it, just as you might in a concrete wall. And when it rains, a little of the clay washes off the surface, exposing the stony material beneath. This forms a natural barrier to erosion and stops water seeping further into the wall. In the olden days people often used this technique to build houses, in Europe and beyond. Martin Rauch says it was originally the favored method of the poor. There are still homes in Germany and Italy that used this technique. But most people don’t realize, because the exteriors are now covered with normal plaster. And how does this ancient construction method work ­without being compacted? In the traditional technique, you shape mud into a standard brick shape. In Peru they don’t fire these bricks – they simply let them dry before setting them in place. But the buildings are prone to collapse because the bricks are not bonded firmly together. I thought this method of construction was only feasible in Peru, or at least using Peruvian loam or clay. But that’s not true, is it? Correct! This method actually works anywhere. In Yemen for instance they have erected entire cities this way, including

t­ en-storey buildings that are classified as world heritage sites. It’s also common in Asia. The Peruvian capital Lima has ancient walls that the Incas presumably made in a comparable way. And what innovations have you contributed? We are really only reviving an age-old building method. ­Adding some modern know-how makes some people view it as an architectural wonder. Which it isn’t by any means. Today we do the compacting with machines powered by compressed air, while ancient builders did it manually by beating the earth with wood or stone. There’s nothing to stop people compacting by hand today, but that would only drive up the cost of labor. Our calculations show that our construction method for the Wayna Warma center cost 350 Peruvian soles, or roughly 100 euros, per square meter of wall. Of these 350 soles, approximately 50 were material costs. The other 300 were for labor. So ordinary manual labor that basically anyone can do makes up 80 percent of the total. The labor-intensive nature of this process makes it prohibitively expensive in Austria, where wages are relatively high – but materials are far, far cheaper. The use of machines doesn’t change this equation. But the equation makes sense in Peru? If I, for instance donated 10,000 euros to build this educa­ tional center using this method, 9,500 euros of that would pay laborers living at a minimum subsistence level and 500 euros would be for materials – basically added gravel. If the whole thing were to be built in reinforced concrete, the money would end up going to companies that supply concrete and steel. If we were to build it with conventional fired bricks, the money would go to the brick industry. And the brick, steel and concrete suppliers are typically owned by foreign corporations. In other words ultimately, most of the money would make its way back to the United States or Europe. By contrast, using rammed earth means that all the money stays in Peru.

“In the olden days people often used this technique to build houses, in Europe and beyond.” So you are doing two good deeds – for the children and the people involved in building the center?

Exactly. Initially, looking at this as an architect, I found the construction method interesting from an aesthetic point of view. The buildings are pleasing to the eye. And recently we came to realize that the project as a whole is not just about creating a positive and suitable environment for children,



and doing so with a charity that has a well conceived strategy. It’s also about using these funds from European donors to provide jobs for ten workers, and covering the cost of living for ten families, for the duration of the two-year project. What’s more, the workers are learning a new technique which, while utilizing materials normally used to make bricks, withstands earthquakes better and is far more sustainable. We aimed to erect three buildings in this project. The first one was constructed by the laborers with our assistance. Using the tamping machines, formworks and other equipment we provided, they were then able to build the second on their own. As a consequence, a body of know-how has now been established in Peru. The third building may not have been started yet, but work will commence as soon as the funding is secured. The next step would be to share the know-how and machines here with other local families so that they can build houses the same way. A traditional mud-brick structure needs a lot of maintenance and has to be reworked once a year. But a ­rammed-earth house will stand for a century, provided you keep the roof sealed. Preventing leaks is the key to success. You said that rammed-earth buildings are less vulnerable to earthquakes than brick structures. What other benefits do they offer? The center was built where needy families live: on the outskirts of the World Heritage Site Cusco.

They are very eco-friendly. For instance, the soil excavated for the foundations is used for the walls. What is more, they cause no environmental pollution and there are no recycling problems. In terms of climate control, they make the building more comfortable because the walls regulate the humidity. And that is a real plus for the residents.

“But a rammed-earth house will stand for a century.” And who should we be approaching with this construction method now ?

That’s a good question. First of all, the aid organizations. We are currently receiving funding for applications that involve the use of rammed earth. Why? Because financiers recognize the common sense and sustainability of this method. If our sole concern were to erect an educational center, I could use low-cost corrugated iron or opt for traditional mud bricks or reinforced concrete. But that’s short-sighted, and it’s precisely here that we need a paradigm shift. We need to make it clear that the building and its construction are the first steps in the aid project.

Many different people were involved on the construction


site. Why do you think you worked so well as a team?

In Quechua, the language of the Incas, the word “wayna

The method helped create a bond between us. When you inter­ act so long on a project like the educational center, it almost becomes a form of meditation. As an architect, I was thrilled to see the architecture, the building, become a catalyst: the social side of things isn’t limited to what will happen inside the building later – its genesis and evolution are ­rele­vant too. What did you learn that you can tap for your work as an architect and the college courses you teach? That’s a difficult question. Leaving aside considerations based on the costs incurred and advantages generated – i. e. how my company and university will benefit – I can say this. From my personal point of view it’s fantastically rewarding to work on a meaningful project like this. That’s the most basic benefit. In addition, as an academic I’ve acquired an incredibly interesting project that I can use in my research and the courses I teach. The building we created there both illustrates the potential and throws up challenges. For example, structural engineers and analysts will be confronted by a brand new material. Until now they have known little but steel and concrete. Then there is a geographer who was assigned by the university to supervise the project with me. And he is fascinated by its social implications and the questions that inevit­ably arise. How is the educational center panning out, what impact is it having on the charity’s activities? The center cost a lot of money to build, and it has a strikingly modern design. Would erecting something like this in a deprived area spark an outpouring of anger? Or would it be viewed as a boon, because it testifies to an appreciation of the material used and the children who will use it? As we see it, this project embodies the essence of architecture: man as the origin of the objects that surround him. Finally, what are your hopes for the future? That the aid organizations realize the added value of this ­construction method and invest in the architecture of their projects, for example in Africa and Asia – that would make a lot of sense.

warma” means “adolescents.” And it is also the name of a Peruvian initiative that supports local children and teenagers from poor families. Launched in the 1990s by the Camacho family from the city of Cusco, the organization takes these young people under its wing on a long-term basis, offering them a quiet retreat, educational opportunities and a place to play, dance and be creative. Discovering that it was outgrowing its original leased premises, the charity purchased a plot of land for an educational center. The center itself is currently being built with the aid of funding from Europe.

Frank Haas was born in 1977. He studied History and Ph­il­osophy and, as Head of Corporate Communications at­­Gebrüder Weiss, is editor-­in-chief of ATLAS . The children can already use some of their new rooms.


There’s an ill wind blowing on board Capt’n Ferdi’s ship. The ropes are all tangled and twisted, the sails are whipping in every ­ irection and the vessel is sailing in zigzags across d the ocean. It’s time for the Capt’n to take command.




OK Capt’n, but how?


We’ll give it a try right now. Start patting the top of your head with one hand and then rub circles on your stomach with your other hand. Rub my stomach?

Yes, rub your stomach …

Now throw two balls in the air at the same time – one in each hand (or wing) – and then catch them again.

Well done. And now try writing the same word backwards and forwards at the same time! See? Like this.

Let’s try something trickier now. Stand on one leg and then lift up the other and draw circles with your toe. Keep that up, and now take your arm and rotate it in the opposite direction. If you can, try it with your eyes closed.

Later that day …

Now then, it all worked after all!

Can you do this too? Try these exercises yourselves! And don’t worry – I won’t ask you to sail across the ocean afterwards.

Hey, I didn’t say you could fly!

Waiting for the blister to burst The stadiums are still overflowing, the viewing figures high and the players preparing for action. But to some observers, professional soccer is slowly but surely reaching its saturation point.

THE WORLD’S TOP 20 SOCCER CLUBS BY REVENUE in millions of euros, 2015 / 2016 season, not including transfer fees (Source: Deloitte)

Manchester United: 689.0 Barcelona: 620.2 Real Madrid: 620.1 Bayern Munich: 592.0 Manchester City: 524.9

text:  Alex Raack


he breathless ritual of German soccer: Monday? A top second-tier game. Tuesday and Wednesday? Champions League. Thursday? Europa League. Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The bulk of the fixtures from the country’s top two divisions, the Bundesliga. Soccer every single day of the week – and those are only the matches with German teams. TV addicts can also gorge themselves on games from England, Italy, Austria and Spain. Soccer, soccer everywhere. Can that really be good for the sport’s health? “No,” says somebody who ought to know. Julian Baum­gartlinger, captain of Austria’s national team, who plays for the German club Bayer Leverkusen. “Hopefully things will change,” the 29-year-old explained in a recent interview for Austria’s Standard newspaper, “because the system is sick.” The midfielder is not alone in his view. He can count on support from other famous names. “The situation is spiraling out of control. Sometimes you have the impression that it’s doing the sport more harm than good,” says Joachim Löw, the head coach of Germany’s national team. “We are killing the players, burning them out,” says Pep Guardiola.

The German trainer Jürgen Klopp agrees. As the head coach of Liverpool, he too is under contract in one of the world’s most grueling competitions: the English Premier League. “At some point we need to slam on the brakes,” he sighs. And even Thomas Müller, the serially cheerful goalscorer at Bayern Munich, lamented the short summer break after the 2016 European Championship tournament. “You get three weeks to take a deep breath before being pushed down below the surface again. Mentally, it really is a huge strain.” So what has gone wrong? The world of soccer has stopped focusing on its essentials. The pleasure of playing is no longer its exclusive purpose. People whose only goal is profit have laid claim to the “beautiful game,” people who have already earned a fortune and still aren’t satisfied. For the love of money, game days are now being stretched out over long weekends – like chewing gum. More and more match-ups are being played in increasingly diverse competitions, above all at the top level. And it is all driven by money. The sport has former UEFA president Michel Platini to thank for the fact that 24 rather than 16 countries qualified for the last European Championship finals: a token of appreciation to his constituents from

“In the elite echelons of soccer we have reached a point where we cannot allow top players to play more games. The sport has become a circus. The best players are now playing for 90 minutes almost every three days, and the pressure is too high. We have reached our limit.” Bernhard Peters, the former Director of Sport and Youth Development at the soccer club TSG Hoffenheim, quoted in the FAZ newspaper of December 15, 2013

an official now suspended for corruption. After all, the more teams you invite, the more grateful officials can support your re-election. For an encore, this January Gianni Infantino – Sepp Blatter’s successor as FIFA president – decided that 48 rather than 32 nations were needed at the 2026 World Cup. The consequence of all this is simple. “Our product has been increasingly diluted over the years,” explains Ewald Lienen, the reliably combative trainer of the Hamburg-based club St. Pauli, on behalf of a largely silent majority. “And it has become completely overhyped.” There was a significant decline in interest among fans last year, most conspicuously at the European Championship. And the saturation point was reached in domestic league matches long ago, he feels. As the German magazine ZEIT ONLINE opined at the end of last year: “Soccer is threatening to suffocate itself.” The overkill is not only harming the sport’s appeal. It is also affecting the players’ health. Klopp encourages a very intensive playing style at Liverpool and his players suffer more injuries than their counterparts at other clubs. “Top players reached a point long ago where the demands on them cannot be justified,” he says. The modern game is ­destroying its own future.

So what does this future hold? It is difficult to imagine that the market will “regulate itself,” as Julian Baumgart­ linger believes. Too many people are making too much ­money by milking this cash cow to exhaustion. In England’s Premier League a new TV agreement has just generated over one billion euros for the clubs. Never before have they earned as much. Yet it is still the passion of the fans that keeps the game alive. If TV audiences dwindle, the bloated world of football will eventually run out of steam. If they register that even soccer has its limits, the people themselves could perhaps rein in the “people’s sport.” That would be a good thing. For the sake of soccer and all those who love it, we can only hope it happens soon.

Alex Raack was an editor at the German soccer magazine 11 FREUNDE (11 FRIENDS) from 2009 to 2016. In 2012 he published his first book, the ­biography of the Werder Bremen defender and ­alcoholic, Uli Borowka. Three years later he completed his second, a dictionary of soccer clichés, idioms and platitudes. Raack works as a freelance journalist in Berlin.


Chocolate, wine and video clips HARALD MARTENSTEIN on trying

to concentrate under duress


o I need to write a text and the deadline is tonight. There are these really cute video clips on the internet: they show children acting sweetly or being silly. Grown-ups enduring minor calamities. Politicians making fools of themselves. These video clips really are hilarious and a number of ­people I know send them to me regular­ly. The computer chimes and a message pops up. I try to ignore it. But eventually curiosity gets the better of me and I take a look. As expected, it is funny. Still, I am annoyed with myself for getting sidetracked. I can’t be mad at the sender; he or she meant well and wanted to cheer me up. There’s no way I can respond with: “Please stop sending me these wonderful clips!” I love them. In fact, I crave them! My problem: I lose concentration and can no longer focus on the text I am writing. The piece is supposed to be about Hamburg. That was my brief. The video clip is about Donald Trump. It shows Dutch people explaining what Holland is to Trump, using his inimitable “barebone” rhetoric in the process. Side-splitting stuff. Can I concoct a link between Trump and Hamburg? Probably not a good idea since the Hamburg text won’t be published for a few weeks, and who knows what the political dynamics will be then? It’s in moments like these that I

really enjoy chocolate. But the cupboard is bare. Should I go out and buy myself some? I can forget about concentrating if I do. Or should I have a glass of wine? So early in the afternoon? No way, unless I want to end up like Hemingway. Of course, it is tempting. After all, his texts were really good. But I do have one idea. I hear something scratching on the door; the dog wants to come in. I turn the handle. The dog loves me; he wants to be close to me – even though he has already been fed. What is it that really motivates dogs? It can’t be love as we know it. Are animals spiritual beings in some way? Do they have something like a soul? Are animal rights campaigners really right to campaign for animals?! For Chrissake, I can’t allow myself to be distracted by this now. I must focus my attention on Hamburg. A city with lots of water – the idea I just had ran somewhere along those lines. But that’s so hackneyed. It can’t have been much good. Now the phone rings. A friendly male voice at the other end asks whether I want to participate in a panel discussion on the monument to German reunification. Whatever made him think of me? Have I ever written anything about this monument? I confess I can’t rule it out. He says he sent me an email a week ago, and it was about the following … To cut

him short, I just give my consent. Sure, I’m happy to take part; I’ll get the details from the mail. The phone call really was over in three minutes. I have no opinions whatsoever on this memorial. I search for the email. It has mysteriously vanished. Which day exactly is the event, again? And where is it? I need to ask again. The man who rang had withheld his caller ID . They should ban that. Hopefully, appointments made with individuals with suppressed phone numbers are legally null and void. So it’s back to Hamburg. Now my wife enters the room and asks, “What’s for dinner today?” ­I respond with, “I really need to concentrate right now.” “But the door was open,” she retorts. “If I left it open, I can’t have been concentrating, and if I already wasn’t concentrating with the door thing, there’s no way I can concentrate now!” Shaking her head, she mooches out. That’s exactly how one thing leads to another.

Harald Martenstein authors the column “Martenstein” in Germany’s ZEIT magazin and is an editor at the ­Berlin-based newspaper Der ­Tagesspiegel. His most recent book is Nettsein ist auch keine Lösung: Einfache Geschichten aus einem schwierigen Land.

The next ATLAS : Friendship

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corncentration? no problem!

if you can’t really cencontrate you’re almost bound to stumble and if you then react too late you’ll take a nasty tumble a determined and calm mind of state can keep the spirit mentored it’s knowing how to concentate that helps keep people centered whether broker, poet, soldier or cook it propels them up those ladders success isn’t something you get from a book cencontration is what matters!

ingo neumayer pens poetry and a German language blog entitled Twelve Lines on Time ( He lives in Cologne. Translated from the German by Mary Fran Gilbert & Keith Bartlett.

ATLAS No.  8: With news, views, interviews and pictures galore powered by a fascination with a world on the move.