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Architects win work at MIPIM

Along with making new contacts and renewing old relationships, practices report leaving MIPIM 2011 with genuine offers of work

Growing optimism in the construction industry was mirrored in a seven per cent increase in delegates to this year’s MIPIM, up from last year’s event.

More than 18,400 professionals travelled to the week-long international property fair in Cannes, which attracts architects, consultants, cities and, according to the organisers, nearly 4,100 investors.

‘Last year was full of slightly blind optimism, this year it seems to have a foundation,’ said Gordon Tero, director of Stride Treglown, who summed up the feeling of many at the 22nd annual event.

MIPIM has earned itself a mixed reputation over the last decade, and was branded a developer circus in the years before the global recession, then a gloomy washout.

However, this year practices were reporting, that along with making good contacts and renewing old relationships, they were actually winning work.

Andrew Pryke, design director of Capita Architecture, said he had picked up a scheme from a Russian developer while Sherin Aminossehe, vice president of HOK, said she had come away with two potential jobs.

Festus Moffat, director of John Robertson Architects (JRA), said: ‘Success at MIPIM is a difficult thing to gauge, but we felt this year there was a more business-like approach to the event with a palpable sense of things moving forward.

‘We have already had prospective clients call us to follow up on our initial meeting, which is the sort of opportunity we look to generate from being there, rather than expecting to come away with a commission.’

The UK, MIPIM 2011 Country of Honour, was heavily represented with delegates from more than 1,100 companies, plus London Mayor Boris Johnson and aide Simon Milton.

David West, founding partner of Studio Egret West, said: ‘MIPIM was buzzing with positive energy, particularly surrounding London. Perhaps due to Johnson’s stand up performances or the scale and ambition of the projects unveiled.

‘The most interesting thing for me was the promotion of regional growth and enterprise strategies in Spain, France, Germany and Denmark, just as England is changing strategy to embrace Localism. Barcelona offered the clarity of vision that I thought the Outer London Commission was going to bring to London’s growth corridors.’

Read in-depth analysis of the key issues emerging from MIPIM including discussions about urban renewal in the AJ 24.03.11 and about the role of engineers in the design process in the AJ 31.03.11

Other comments

David Lawrence, managing director, BFLS:

‘There was a far more optimistic feeling than has been felt in the past couple of years, and a sense that people are keen to get on with things again after a long cold winter, and can now actually see how they might achieve that objective. We had a number of good conversations that we will be following up in London and Europe over the next few weeks.’ 

Tim Makower, partner, Allies and Morrison:

‘This was my first year at MIPIM and for me the buzz at the London stand was the most impressive thing. There was no work won but I did have a very real enquiry for a job in Moscow.’

Tim Makower at MIPIM (foreground, left)

Tim Makower at MIPIM (foreground, left)

Gene Kohn, co-founder and president, KPF:

‘This year’s MIPIM was one of the best ever and certainly far better than either last year or the year before in terms of optimism and business deals concerning new projects at least being discussed if not actually closed. It’s clear that China and Asia, inclusive of India, are still the strongest markets in the world and I expect this to continue in the immediate future if not for many years to come.’

Graham Hickson-Smith, head of Marketing & Business Development at 3DReid:

‘MIPIM was again a much nicer place to be this year. The effect of falling numbers has been to sort the wheat from the chaff and thus you get a much better quality of delegate with a greater potential for return. That said, the exhibition in the Palais felt fairly lacklustre, with the lack of any real excitement in the grandiose schemes of previous MIPIMs, except for the beautifully presented, and designed, DohaLand scheme by Gensler and Mossessian. I also didn’t feel a particularly strong presence from any particular region or emerging economy this year, although there was a sense of a confident Nordic reason, but that may just be the blondes distributing water on the croisette. I am unsure what being Country of Honour meant in real terms for the UK.’

Michael Lowndes, of Turley Associates:

‘Proportionate seems about the right word. Nothing too flashy, smaller teams, more serious, lots of meetings and quiet endeavour. Word of the moment is ‘meantime’ as in meantime use of spaces and buildings while we wait for something else to happen - cheap rents and basic amenities will encourage creative start ups to flourish from the Royal Docks to the Northern Quarter. Much uninformed talk of localism and significance of neighbourhood planning. Some architects think of it as a source of future income. Suspect they may be disappointed.

Charles Rich, of Charles Rich Consultancy:

‘MIPIM was a bit strange this year, with the London Stand really buzzing, but it was very flat outside, especially outside the bunker. London has definitely bounced back. I help Ealing Council each year and this year was great for them, lots of interest and some very big players waking up for what the Borough has to offer. Newham is also steaming ahead.’

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