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FOREIGN BRIEFING

Vintage Rotterdam soap factory still evolving

The 500-year-old brick building was turned into a local art collective's home base five years ago, but now more changes are in the works.

November 29, 2009

1 Netherlands

When Rotterdam's artists and musicians talk about a place they care about, they inevitably point to Worm, the 500-year-old converted soap factory.

Five years ago, members of the Worm artist collective cleaned up the abandoned, fire-damaged building, opening its doors to host and produce a daring mix of cutting-edge concerts, films and multimedia arts within a puzzle of intimate spaces redesigned using converted trash.

Today, architects as well as revelers come to admire the award-winning interior design of the brick structure set on the banks of a charming canal and across from an old windmill west of the city center.

But visitors to Rotterdam have only seven or eight months to experience Worm before the city forces the organization to relocate because of a home-building project in the neighborhood.

The city is helping to fund Worm's relocation, which will be in the center of town, but Hajo Doorn, 40, director of Worm, insists the new place will be something entirely different.

"We won't try to copy this," Doorn said. "We want a completely new concept. . . . We have to stay in front and continue to surprise people."

Visit the English-language version of the Worm website at www.wormweb.nl. For the English version, click on any of the heading categories.

-- Devorah Lauter

2 Honduras

Honduran lawmakers are due to decide on Wednesday whether to reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya and let him finish his term until a newly elected leader takes office in January. Zelaya was exiled by soldiers in a June 28 coup but has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy since sneaking back into Honduras in September. The State Department urges U.S. citizens to "exercise caution" traveling to the country.

-- Reuters

3 France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to dig 80 miles of tunnels for a new subway system. Paris already has the M├ętro, but Sarkozy's plan would focus on the capital's outskirts, with trains making a figure-8-shaped route between suburban business hot spots, research centers and the airports. If approved, the $31.4-billion project would go into service in 2022 or '23.

-- Associated Press

4 China

China plans to add about 12,000 miles of new railway track in the west of the country by 2020, according to the official Xinhua agency. The west is less prosperous and has weaker infrastructure links than the more heavily populated east. China will invest more than $102 billion a year in rail construction on average in the next three years.

-- Reuters

5 Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin's last home in Switzerland will become a permanent place of pilgrimage for fans of the actor who immortalized the "Little Tramp."

The mansion at Corsier-sur-Vevey was chosen over Los Angeles and London as the site of the first museum dedicated to the screen legend, said Michael Chaplin, his son.

The museum will be finished within two years. It will chronicle his rise from the music halls of his native London to stardom in Hollywood's silent-movie era and beyond.

-- Associated Press

Caution spots

The State Department urges caution in these areas

* Nepal, because of ongoing political unrest that has sparked violence.

* Colombia, because of drug-related violence in rural areas and kidnappings and killings in urban areas.

travel@latimes.com

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