MIPIM 2014: As it happens by the AJ bloggers in Cannes
The return of AJ’s much-loved live blog from Europe’s biggest property fair. Experience the thrill and champagne spills of the annual MIPIM property show
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I’m leaving MIPIM inspired. It’s been a very positive experience. I think you have to say its worth it for a practice like ours but its tough going, we will return with new friends, colleagues connections etc but also knowing a lot more about ourselves. Plus big credit card bill.
And a small shout out to wordsearch for their Pecha Kucha event last night which was great fun. After all the serious work it was the perfect antidote - thank you.
Friday is always a bit of a slow day, and today is no different. People seem a little jaded. I would be interested to know how many miles have been walked by the 20,000 participants. I know I’ve clocked up a few and can tell by the blisters on my feet. Trainers should be mandatory for all participants, but you know what they say, over 40s shouldn’t wear trainers unless they’re partaking in sport. You could, however, argue that MIPIM is indeed a sport, one that you become quite accomplished at the more you do. It is an enjoyable few days for sure but more importantly it really is great for business.
You could argue MIPIM is a sport
My final tip is that you must follow up on every single meeting, contact and discussion. If you don’t it is all a waste of time. It is very difficult to quantify the amount of work for me that has come from MIPIM over the years, but it will be vast when you consider the friendships and contacts that have been made during these few days in Cannes each year.
Yesterday I went to the panel discussion on Office Design where participants were asked what the office would be like in 25 years. With London’s existing building stock being an issue, refurbishment is the opportunity and this is paramount to the future of the city. Nick Jacobs, CEO of Rowan had an interesting perspective which was summed up with three key words: tractors, tequila and revolution.
- Tractors - when you drive down the motorway everyone has a tractor. Look at the current building stock and change it up.
- Tequila - because the lines are blurred
- Revolution - put the power in the people
On my way to the airport, watching the sun rise over the Med, I review my impressions of this MIPIM. It was a cheerful one, generally, with folks looking forward to the next year of business. No spectacular architectural insights. Some ambitious visualisation. Some reasonably good modelmaking. A lot of perspex. I will leave you with one last puzzling image, which I recorded on my way out of the Palais last night. Remarkable.
After four hours of sleep I drag myself around the MIPIM site for one last time. It’s 9.30 am and what a contrast to yesterday’s madness. The London stand is almost completely deserted. A few people are sitting wearily on the sea front deck looking into their double espresso. Models stand unobserved waiting to be packed away. But the sun continues to shine.
MIPIM 2014 has been busier and more positive than 2013. Not only was London screaming with positivity but the Core Cities were feeling the glow and benefit from a potentially overheating capital. I also noticed the increase in smaller and younger housing developers with clever financial models. They were focusing on the higher end market and interestingly, wanting to invest for a longer term. This must be good for design quality. Architects too were incredibly positive.
Let’s see if the profession stands up for itself
The key issue for many was finding people to feed the new work. Salaries are rising I was told, and therefore there must be a pressure put on fees. Let’s see if the profession stands up for itself and convince clients what we are really worth. So that’s it for MIPIM 2014. In my view a great success. A pocket full of cards and meetings arranged back in London. Job done.
The Farrell Review NLA talk at the London stand, chaired by Peter Murray and included messages from Pat Brown, Max Farrell, Stephen Hodder and George Ferguson, pointed to the need for architects to be more involved in the politics of cities. Max Farrell suggested that all cities would benefit from architects being mayors. The delayed publication of the report meant that we were left guessing what it had to say. It is now due for publication at the end of the month.
All cities would benefit from architects being mayors
Pat Brown was keen to promote the London Festival of Architecture, while Stephen Hodder wanted government to appoint a design advisor and produce a built environment design policy. George Ferguson wanted to promote good space leadership and asked how do we judge good design? The importance of a tough and robust planning system was trumpeted as a way of ensuring good design.
Off the back of yesterday’s drinks reception at Ma Nolans, where we met key players in the regeneration sector, it’s been another busy day in Cannes as the Cardiff team continues to promote everything the city has to offer.
Ken Poole, head of economic development at Cardiff Council presented our tourism offer this morning, competing with the likes of Hamilton and Prince Edward in Canada. I may be biased but with our international sports venue, waterside location and capital city status I think we had the edge.
We then hosted a lunch for 40 investors, developers and partners giving us a great chance to find out more about their plans as we laid out our own ambitions for Cardiff. Then to top off the day we’ve just had another successful Hoppy Hour too, our last one for MIPIM 2014 – introducing to the property world the delights of our Welsh Brains beer.
Last stop tonight is our dinner with some of the influential players in the property sector, I can’t think of a better way to end our three days at MIPIM.
This year’s MIPIM has been high on optimism and across the show you can tell that many realise this is the time to shine.
It is a bit like a sweet shop
A mix of sectional models and CGIs vie for our attention and most are very impressive.
It’s a bit like a sweet shop, although the flashier, more colourful stands may be slightly distressing for those whose eyes remain bleary from the night before.
I cannot believe how quickly this week has gone – we are now on the finishing straight as we head full force into the last day of MIPM. Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the AR MIPIM Future Projects Awards dinner which gave a great insight into the global trends in architecture at the moment. It certainly gave us some food for thought with all of the design opportunities available on our projects in Cardiff.
The last two days have definitely been a success. We’ve been approached by a variety of people looking to invest and move to our Welsh capital city, including an Israeli investment fund which is focusing its efforts outside of the London market.MIPIM is just the beginning for Cardiff on the global stage but it has certainly propelled us forward. With just hours left to maximise on our opportunities its back to networking, speaking to visitors on the stand and hosting our lunch and dinner events – no rest for us just yet.
With the London media shaking from the realisation that we need to build hundreds of tall buildings to keep our capital viable, it is interesting to contrast this with Moscow, where all development in the city centre over seven levels high was axed by the new Mayor last year, to keep the congested streets reasonably navigable. So the Moscow development map has a hole in the middle and - almost diametrically opposed to the early 20th century Constructivists’ approach to urban planning - a spontaneous city cultural landscape map was drawn up, identifying the centres of urban life which have arisen organically in the periphery during the last 80 years. And guess what? This map looks uncannily like a brain scan!
Waking to yet another cloudless, blue sky again raised the spectre of criticism from those not attending. The deluge we had last year helped in some way to demonstrate that our hard work wasn’t even being compensated by the weather. Not the case this year. Shirt sleeves and sun glasses prevail.
MIPIM 2014 has been fuelled by an optimism greater than I’ve perceived in previous years. My relationship with the event has been predominantly London centric for the past few years, but this year, even the Paris tent appears to bustle. One poster for Leeds City Region caught my eye - technology and innovation are indeed increasingly important commodities.
Taking the fringe route (no pass to official event) is a gamble. However with persistence it can work. Today I’ve managed to sit down with a major London developer who employs star architects. MIPIM allows this to happen, with persistence and persuasion we were able to have an exchange with a potential client who values great design. We’re definitely coming back next year.
Wednesday ended with the now rejuvenated Carlton Club architects love-in. A great opportunity to catch up with former colleagues. It’s the only place where talking to fellow architects is seen as being acceptable and where we can exchange notes on all things design related, work load and business strategies. I am always amazed at the number of former colleagues I bump into, and am encouraged by the number of new architecture practices being set up.
Another morning…. another Berocca. Another late night for most. Some of the people walking about are a little more crumpled and their eyes a little more glazed, even more than yesterday. Lots of sunglasses on show, even though the sun isn’t fully up yet. Yesterday was fascinating and I am looking forward to today with as much gusto. British design was discussed at great length yesterday and the appreciation of good design is evident. With the improving economic climate it is apparent that clients are looking to prioritise good design over fees. For the last few years it has been all about cost, now it is looking to be more about good quality design…music to my ears. It is great to see, yet again, so many British designers present at MIPIM. There is definitely still something special about world recognised, British design.
Fascinating conversation with Pierre Laconte president of foundation of urban environment who explains that the 2014 MIPIM is defined by an excess of liquidity. A direct result of the $10 trillion global phenomenon of QE that the Fed, EU, BoE and Japan has pumped into the financial system to keep the machine running. Investors are trying to deploy capital through financial instruments including stocks, bonds and most pertinently for the architectural profession, property. It is by definition overpriced and therefore of intrinsic risk to those of us involved with property. The dogma of supply and demand is deluded by vast sums of printed cash where assets are hurriedly exchanged whilst the myopia lasts. I hope that the reality for those of us working in the commercial sector does not bear out this impending volatility.
Another glorious sunny day in Cannes today and a productive one too. Spent most of the morning and early afternoon in and around the London stand catching up with key connections and exchanging leads, there are some exciting plans for the city and plenty of debate on its future.
There was one discussion in particular which stood out for me - Delivering Homes for London - where the general theme was on housing zones. There seems to be a shift towards using a commercial model and applying it to the residential market. David Reay from Lend Lease said: ‘It’s all about certainty for developers and reducing risk’. While RIBA’s chief executive Harry Rich added: ‘innovation is the key to success’. Now to finish the day off at the Overbury’s event at Morrisons!
The ‘Countries of Honour’ this year are Russia, Turkey and Brazil (quite a solid football theme with two of the three as the next hosts of the World Cup. Great to also see Qatar here in force as well) What difference does the country of honour have on each of the days for the average attendee? Not a lot. Not a lot unless you are specifically attending the discussions that are being held by each nation. But one thing is for sure, they are now three heavyweights in the property world and it is great to see the fanfare around them here. I have managed to visit many of my clients’ from Russia today, which is incidentally ‘Turkey-Day’. There are now 86 participating Nations and over 20,000 participants at MIPIM this year (official numbers will be revealed after the event but expect it to be well up on this), a welcome mix of nations and cultures. It is this mix that makes MIPIM so unique and such an enjoyable way to do business.
There must have been a revolution in town halls with the Core Cities group talking as one united force. Sir Albert Bore - Birmingham, Sir Howard Bernstein - Manchester, Tim Riordan - Leeds, Fiona Fletcher Smith - GLA and George Ferguson – Bristol, sitting together as one team. The headlines include: ‘Core Cities cannot rely on inward investment they need to use the intellectual capital that come from universities’, ‘Healthcare is possibly the main market’, ‘Life sciences are a focus for growth’, and ‘Universities need to train people for jobs’. One of the most significant points of agreement was the obvious one: Core Cities want greater autonomy as they know best what local people want and need.
Sheffield’s John Mothersole called for ‘ambition and acceleration’ in the development of the new Sheffield City Centre masterplan this afternoon. It’s not a bad motto for a city set to host part of the Tour de France this year and it certainly mimics the attitude of many attending MIPIM 2014 – a very positive atmosphere.
Out on the fringes of MIPIM I managed to catch Roger Zogolovitch for a chat in the setting sun, really good to hear from a developer who values design. He passed on some good tips and I mentioned my Peckham sites - we shall see!
MIPIM isn’t just about networking, it’s also about learning. Hundreds of talks and seminars are open to all. Having sat through an hour-long debate on the future of office space design titled ‘Workspace in Transformation’, the following words resonated: transparent, sharing, social, well-being, liquid, natural, humane, active, flexible, home, family, ecology, connected, democratic…
It’s been great to have some really strong support for Cardiff at MIPIM. Yesterday Sir Michael Bear, who heads UKTI’s Regeneration Investment Organisation, joined our lunch and gave a great speech, supporting Cardiff’s ambition. This evening Jackie Sadek, chief executive of UK Regeneration, is co-hosting our drinks reception – helping us spread the word that Cardiff is a great place to invest. Today is going to be filled with more networking opportunities as we maximise on our event attendance, in between our sessions on the stand. MIPIM really is the ideal place to meet the all of the right people in a short space of time – it is non-stop!
MIPIM is officially in full swing. The general mood is upbeat, the sun is shining and my favourite quote so far has been: ‘The industry seems to have its MoJo back’.
The Woods Bagot Cycle to Cannes team arrived in one piece yesterday afternoon with a warm welcome from Boris Johnson at the finish tent, while I slipped off and spent my afternoon at the Future Designs lunch which was filled with a mix of architects, project managers, engineers and two of my old bosses – small industry!
As the day drew to a close we had one last nightcap at the Manchester Bar, notorious for being the architects hang out in Cannes, now we’re all back up and out to make the most of everything MIPIM has to offer.
Another MIPIM, another beautiful morning. Lots of people walking purposefully in every direction heading off to meet people. As I head towards my first breakfast meeting I’m thinking about the likely top trends for @MIPIM2014 on twitter:
- #KettleCo (maybe by the end of the week!!)
Our stand, which is even bigger and better than last year, was very busy yesterday, with the big screens showing off Cardiff – and Dr Who - grabbing everyone’s attention! The atmosphere was buzzing around the Palais, as the biggest gathering of real estate investors descended and we were there ready to promote all of Cardiff’s development opportunities. The team are very excited now for the week ahead as we are already meeting the key players in development, investment and architecture, and we are only one day into the event!
Tuesday, which seems to be the slowest day, if you could call it that, of the three main MIPIM days, came to a close with a dinner hosted by AECOM. It illustrated the MIPIM atmosphere with a good international attendance with representatives from most continents. One of the market tips was that South America is the place to be in 2014, in particular Chile, Columbia and Peru.
I spent yesterday searching for innovative marketing ideas. There were few that really jumped out of the box. Croydon’s giant iPad was useful and easy to use and gives the viewer a great understanding of the size and scale of opportunity. I was also intrigued by a pair of guys wearing large TV screens on their backs – promoting an art video project by Russian film director Timur Bekmambetov about a Donstroy project in Moscow. However, in this age of digital marketing, the most effective technique is the old fashioned face-to-face meeting. Above all, MIPIM is about the power of the human connection.
Who’s got the biggest ipad at MIPIM? No surprise because Croydon has the fastest growing tech sector in London.
A rather odd new addition to MIPIM - virtual attendance! This mobile unit was buzzing around the London stand all afternoon.
Arrive in Cannes. First stop is to meet my agent to collect keys for my apartment (well room with 2 sofa beds) before heading back to Caffe Roma to see who is about. It looks much the same as every year, in fact if I hadn’t passed through Cannes this summer with my family, I could imagine that Caffe Roma always looks the same with the same familiar faces and familiar bar staff outside selling bottles of Heineken.
MIPIM does start on the sun filled streets of Cannes, but on the long walk down the bleak corridors to the north terminal at Gatwick! Got talking to some nice people. One QS told me that so many people asked him are you going? So he packed his bag and jumped on plane. Challenge of the day is entering the worlds longest internet password - six attempts, two architects later we are set! Now the night awaits.
A very happy group from the Cycle 2 Cannes ride celebrate their arrival at the Savills tent at MIPIM. By all accounts a vintage year with six days sunshine, tailwinds and a very strong bunch with an epic 28 riders doing the whole way. Well done to all.
Arrived at MIPIM with no injuries!
Watching Boris meander through his speech on housing. He jokes that London is no longer the sixth biggest French city but is now the fourth.
Up early to catch my flight. It’s usually a direct, cheap but sadly discontinued EasyJet flight. This year I’m flying BA via Charles De Gaulle and it’s not the usual packed flight of MIPIM tourists all heading south.
I drive to the airport,and with two flights and a bus to Cannes with over 20,000 people (and rising) having similar plans, I can’t help but wonder about the carbon footprint of MIPIM, each of these journeys to meet to discuss a variety of different property opportunities.
On the face of it ,the carbon footprint must be ridiculous but if you take into account the amount of meetings and saved trips throughout the year to visit these clients individually, I think the environment must see MIPIM as pretty good net value.
The mood is buoyant as MIPIM springs to life, with cities and regions very keen to grab attention from the off. Moscow has brought along a larger, flashier model than the neighbouring London stand - looks impressive but it’s quite tricky to identify the new architecture!
The day commences with endless discussion about what to wear. With temperatures a little over freezing in the early morning, but hitting 18 degrees by early afternoon it is critical to have different layers to peel off as the sun gets higher. Another complication is overheating on many of the hard climbs followed by extreme cold on the descent. Riders on the tour traditionally picked up a newspaper at the top of a mountain to line their vest ready for the downhill. The MIPIM cyclist has constant debate about ‘layer management’, ie what to wear and when to take it off. Back pockets are stuffed full of arm and leg warmers, over shoes and wind proof vests. This mornings decision is ‘be bold, start cold’.
Bag packed, IPad armed to the teeth, enough business cards to build a 1:50 shard model, taxi on its way, but just one more meeting with my boss!! See you all soon
A first look around the, as yet technically unopened, ‘bunker’ has revealed some quite tidy models. Some were here last year. Others definitely weren’t. And the St Petersburg stand is the current winner of the most opulent/Palace of Versaille Max title. So far…
With a week out of the office looming, it’s head down and focus to get as much done before tomorrow’s dawn chorus heralds the start of MIPIM 2014 or as I also call it the 100 hour experiment…
An experiment is defined as a procedure carried out with the goal of establishing the validity of a hypothesis. My starter for 10; After the Meltdown: How well placed is the UK’s Architectural Profession to address the changing needs of a world emerging from recession?
This is my ninth time to MIPIM so packing has become an old routine (and it certainly doesn’t feel like a year since MIPIM 2013). Here’s this years ‘MIPIM Survival Pack’, devised over the years (in no particular order… but actually it is):
- Nurofen Plus (goes without saying…)
- Business cards (it’s like a large game of swaps, to get your collection you need to hand out yours)
- Rennies (after all the rich food, can be a life saver)
- Sunglasses (these help a lot stepping outside in the morning)
- Notebook and pen (to write down all your amazing ideas)
- Plasters (for the blisters on your feet)
- iPhone portable charger (an iPhone battery will get MIPIMed out)
- Berocca (for the next morning)
- Scarf (I know I’m Scottish but it does get chilly standing outside Caffe Roma at night)
- Suncream (just incase you get that meeting on the beach, you don’t want to turn up at the next one burnt)
So looking ahead to MIPIM, the economic climate is such that this will likely be the best attended MIPIM since 2008, as confidence comes back into the sector. There have been highs and lows over the last year worth noting in my geographical areas of interest. In the Middle East, Dubai won Expo 2020 which is fantastic news for Dubai and the wider region, perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel for the troubles across the region which still brings some amount of instability and concern to the world. In Russia, their delivery of Sochi 2014 was a phenomenal success and one which has yet again raised the bar for Olympic Games both in the summer and winter, however, there are of course the very recent troubles in Ukraine. Hopefully this can be resolved peacefully and look forward to the recovery of the Ruble. Closer to home, London is continuing to grow at some pace and looks very optimistic indeed, with the regions now starting to follow. I feel very optimistic and excited about what the days ahead will hold and look forward to learning more about the highs and lows of the market. Every day is a school day and that is never more pertinent than during MIPIM week. Lastly, to the rugby, since Scotland have gifted their game to France, I’m sure we’ll be made very welcome to Cannes.
While attendance figures for MIPIM are no-where near their 2008 peak - 29,318 of which 6,138 were Brits - it’s clear there is a slow and steady recovery in the property sector. By Tuesday, there will be 20,000 people at MIPIM (19,400 in 2013) and a significant number will be architects networking and trying to sniff out future opportunities. My main focus, apart from clients of course, will be to research and discover any new and innovative marketing techniques. Today, we are in ‘build-up’ stage so it’s hard to spot anything startling among what is essentially a building site. However, the plum sponsorship spot for the badge lanyard has been taken by DTZ and Leeds City Council has taken the space on the cover band that wraps the annual guide-book. The lanyard is around my neck – the cover band is already in the bin.
The Cycle to Cannes is now an established MIPIM event in its own right, albeit over six days beforehand, arriving on the Tuesday to warm applause and handshaking.
I owe a great many projects, clients and collaborators to this epic challenge
The physical challenge is significant, particularly if doing the whole distance which is just shy of 1,500km, riding 12-13 hours a day, eating on the hoof and managing bruises, aches, pains and swollen joints. It is by far one of the most rewarding experiences in the context of the MIPIM week, with real opportunities for networking to a success far beyond the MIPIM event itself. I owe a great many projects, clients and collaborators to this epic challenge, and will continue to support to for as long as my ageing body will allow.
MIPIM feels a bit like a New Year Celebration. We all get together, drink a few glasses, and try to work out what the year ahead will bring and what to look forward to, and at the same time reflect on the twelve months that have passed. I did not report much hope last year, yet the whirlwind of opportunities that came our way since MIPIM 2013 has been bewildering. So, let’s see if we can imagine the year ahead. And let’s not stop looking for beauty. It may come to Cannes - who knows.
‘The Cycle to MIPIM ride is brilliantly organised. Every stage is clearly mapped out, with the Rider Handbook showing each stage in detail and an elevation chart highlighting the climbs and descents for careful analysis en route. There is much discussion in the coach about the importance of the vertical scale, which varies on each diagram from 100m to 500m and it’s a good job that there are architects (and engineers) on hand to provide the interpretation of the drawings as necessary. So far rolling hills but things get tougher in the next couple of days.’
‘This will be my third MIPIM and once again the mantra is network, network, network. As a team we are going to ‘divide and conquer’ and I am leading the charge in promoting the firm’s Workplace interiors practice. We have some good stories to tell, including developing the interiors for Warner Music Group and I’ll be talking to developers and project managers about our capabilities. But it’s easy to forget there’s still the day job to worry about and a team to manage back home on the base. I’ve delayed my arrival to late on Monday, due to a client pitch.’
For us MIPIM’s opportunity is about…
Exposure - Attend events on the outer fringes of the MIPIM. With a tag team approach as fellow director Greg Lomas will comb main event so we will maximise our exposure.
Target - ‘You can win work from other architects too.’ A director of a big practice told us that, so we will be looking to reconnect with larger practices and complimentary consultants, namely planners as-well as commercial business.
Presence - Just being about to listen, learn what others are doing and use this experience as a fact finding mission
Personality - We have traded on our personalities, always punching above our weight, unusually for architects being approachable/good company we know face to face is sometimes our best chance of wining work that why we are here.