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Murray: 'There are more clients per m² at MIPIM than anywhere in the world'

Peter Murray explains why MIPIM is still the place to be to meet clients but warns that competition is increasing in the race to land for the ‘next big job’

Why should architects go to MIPIM? Simple. Because there are more clients per square metre in Cannes in March than anywhere else in the world at any one time. And your competitors are finally catching on to the job-getting potential of networking among the palm trees and the blue skies of the Côte d’Azur.

Last year architecture took pride of place at MIPIM when the Qataris exhibited their Msheireb scheme for the heart of Doha right at the entrance to the Palais des Festivals. They held a series of seminars – launched by Richard Rogers – with architects discussing their work relayed to external screens and speakers for all to see and hear. But it was not always thus.

During the 1990s architects were thin on the ground. Those that did attend – SOM, RTKL, HOK, Chapman Taylor – had a clear run at networking with the European development community. US practices were quick off the mark; they understood the power of networking. Chapman Taylor cleverly saw the potential of the EU market; for nearly a quarter of a century it has occupied the same stand down in the exhibition bunker, building networks and a global business. For some years I organised joint stands for smaller practices but, at the time, failed miserably to interest the RIBA.

The UK contingent changed with the emergence of Regional Development Agencies and cities: Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast followed the example of London to create larger group stands that promoted places as well as the consultants that worked in them. In the noughties the show changed again with eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East taking larger and larger amounts of space. While UK involvement was generally driven by the commercial market, other exhibitors were clients for all sorts of buildings – not just offices.

In the wake of the credit crunch attendance and exhibitor numbers plummeted

In the wake of the credit crunch attendance and exhibitor numbers plummeted, but five years later MIPIM 2013 seems to have regained some of the confidence of old. The Carlton Club, the late night watering hole of the architectural elite is back in business, the London stand is branding itself as ‘the winning city’, the RIBA has a stand, the Broadgate Estates Cycle to Cannes has a full complement of riders, and Boris is planning an appearance.

Peter Murray at the London stand at MIPIM 2012

Peter Murray at the London stand at MIPIM 2012

If you decide to go at this late date, link up with your local stand or join the London Club, which provides networking facilities, a bar and a real buzz. New London Architecture is running a series of seminars throughout the week there.

Don’t expect to get a job on the first day – MIPIM is about long-term networking. Don’t take tons of heavy brochures that will be dumped in the bin. But do take lots of business cards and, when you get back, follow up any contacts made. Use the MIPIM website database to find out who will be there and track down the ones you want to meet. The downside of the increased number of architects is, of course, that it’s all getting more competitive – so it may look like just a jolly from Blighty, but it’s hard work when you get there.

Peter Murray is chairman of New London Architecture

 

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