MIPIM 2011: As it happens
The AJ’s live blog from Europe’s biggest property fair – experience the sun-soaked La Croisette promenade, ‘property’ bunker, the late night parties and the journey there with MIPIM veterans, virgins and voyeurs
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Have arrived back in London- exhausted. A combination of 1000miles in the legs, and the all too ‘ripe’ atmosphere of the Manchester Bar enough to finish me off.
As is the case with MIPIM, whilst the London Stand continues to be the epicentre of life in Cannes for many, the chance encounter on the periphery continues to offer the most opportunity for meaningful exchanges. I hasten to add however, that I found a new periphery this year…Easyjet Flight EZY5066 from Nice to Gatwick. Here, in relatively relaxed surroundings, with limited leg room, I spent an engaging 2hour conversation with Manuel Nogueira of AndAarchitects, covering a wide range of subjects including communication skills, PR, BSF and the PCP Programmes, Gove and the continuing sadistic harm he causes to the prospects for well designed schools and architects, MIPIM, kids, integrity and profitability…in no particular order of conversation or importance.
One topic in particular which provoked the most energetic exchange centred on the role of the RIBA in promoting small practice, particularly in light of the Pechechka (so called by Will Murray, son of Peter) entitled ‘Chose Architects’, in which a dozen or so small practices were invited to take the stand for 60 (yes sixty) seconds to extol the virtues of architects through the portfolio of each participating practice. A well intentioned event, with great promise, sadly failing to achieve.
Some would say I was a die-hard, spending my spare hour and a half in the south of France going to yet another party, especially one that requires an hours drive by taxi, then for the taxi to wait and then shuttle me back to the delightful Nice airport, but this one is worth it (note to Aerports de France, please sort out the Gate B area. Murphy’s Irish Bar is not the last memory I want to have of Cannes, which frankly is more Costa del Sol than Cote d’Azur).
Tom Bloxham’s house party is the perfect post Mipim wind-down. Relaxed, fun, great company and of course has the perfect setting in the Maison Bulle. The house is stunning with its spherical FT coloured concrete structure that lies in the dramatic cliffs near Vence and my taxi driver looks almost as impressed as I do. I time my arrival with a content looking Peter Bishop and we both look at the final piece de resistance in the hallway, an impressive hat collection, which being a fellow headpiece lover, I gaze at appreciatively.
Unfortunately, time really does fly when you’re having fun and all too soon I have to leave before my taxi turns into a pumpkin. Then before I know know it I’m at Gate B40 surrounded by hungover Mipimites all clutching their overpriced bottles of Evian, with the exception of Nick Shattock, who looks rather relaxed and summery despite his proclamations of a rather late night.
As I sit like a sardine on British Airway’s Heathrow bound flight, I think back nostalgically to the past few days and the buzz that makes me want to go back year after year despite the exhaustion and some of the more eccentric aspects of Mipim.
In fact, I’m already planning my next one. The first thing will be to expand my ten strong hat collection, since as Tom Bloxham said to me, ‘If you can’t get ahead get a hat.’
This is my last blog for 2011 Mipim, written from Paris as I await my flight connection. Around me are what I guess may be fellow travellers from Cannes. Wearied looking and slightly sunburnt, a dead giveaway. Thursday eve was the annual tradition of the final night party hop. Iain and I did our best to put on a good show from YRM, culminating in almost being evicted from the Coventry party for the temerity of asking for the location of the gents. Given that Coventry is my home town and that Iain went to college there we thought this was a bit rich! As we set off to catch respective flights our reflection on the week is that 2011 was a good Mipim. Sensible (unlike 2008 I’m told) and focused and with an air of optimism that by next year we may be on the upturn. If this turns out to be true then given that next year is Olympic year, Mipim 2012 for the UK and London Stand promises to be very exciting indeed.
Friday morning at Nice airport ….. It’s always good to see a range of highly skilled professionals in various states of disrepair.
Good MIPIM everyone asks …. very good, last year was full of slightly blind optimism, this year it seems to have a foundation.
Projects are beginning to come out of the blocks, and not just in London ….. Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry …. it’ll be tight, it’ll be tough, but it’ll be a good year.
I was told at dinner that a true MIPIM vet doesn’t measure their success and quality by the parties they’ve been to or the leads they have but by the freebies that are on offer at the stands in the bunker.
So using that as a standard, apparently it hasn’t been a good one. The USB sticks are low on memory, the pens ‘plasticky’ and the mint sweets slightly sickly. The only stand I’m told that bucks the trend is Trox, who are offering cuddly toys with their logos. However, the branding is apparently easily removable, thereby handing a lifeline to the harassed parent who hasn’t time to buy anything for their offspring.
What more could you want?
For me though, with one event still to go, it has been an enjoyable and productive few days despite the water to my rental apartment being cut for 24 hours. I’ve caught up with friends and acquaintances, made new contacts, got some good leads and also been involved as a speaker and moderator in the more ‘official’ side of the Mipim conference programme, which I usually don’t have time for.
So at least I can say that weight of my luggage isn’t due to the dodgy giveaways but the business cards I’m carrying back.
I have a spare 30 minutes…I take a bet on how much corporate stand bling I can collect (yes, there is sometimes time for fun outside work here!). I return having done a world tour of cities and world companies….I can just about carry it all…rather juvenile I know.
Back at the Capita Symonds stand the London Pavilion is quiet. A Russian gentleman asks me if I am from Capita Symonds. He states that he is a developer and would like me/ Capita Symonds to design a number of projects for him. It is suggested that a meeting with another developer we’re working with is arranged. It would appear that we have that illusive project(s) win that the guys back in the UK believe you should be getting at MIPIM!
Meanwhile, I have an early departure from Nice Airport in the morning…
‘No More Neon’
This has been my most relaxed MIPIM and maybe the best. It certainly reflects the change in circumstances since 2008, but also I’m sure through experience it has become less frenetic, whilst being more enjoyable and informative. I saw some people’s diaries with 5 minute gaps between meetings all day (no chance). My gaps are more like 3 hours, preferring the impromptu to the pre-arranged schedule.
One can always see the MIPIM pecking order for what it is - such is the game, but beyond a period of what some would describe as excess, a new era of creativity is in evidence and the emergence of creative approaches is palpable. At the same time, I picked up a sense of resignation from some architects. There are always challenges, but I did hear a consistent thread of marginalisation through procurement.
Announcing the new Surface office in Hull provided a virtual hub for the City’s initiatives in the absence of a Hull stand. Well, with Manchester as confident as ever, someone has to fly the Hull flag.
I’m happy to go now
Yesterday, I was a dazed MIPIM virgin, blown over by the calibre of people at MIPIM - directors, partners, CEOs and dignitaries, from the president of Rwanda to BoJo. I was also bewitched by the MIPIM dance - architects chasing clients, while clients and cities paired up to chase foreign investors.
Day two and this MIPIM virgin is feeling like a veteran. The amazing thing about this event is that you don’t have to ring someone up, check your diary and schedule a meeting, you just walk right up and shake the hand of the person you want to meet. It’s exhilarating - a year’s worth of networking can be done in hours - but also completely exhausting.
In the last 48 hours, I’ve spoken to myriads of architects and developers, government officials and movers/shakers: people like Duncan Innes, from the Olympic Legacy Company, who will be launching the OJEU competition for 800 homes in the Olympic Park next month. I told him if he had any awkward or in-between sites that he needed ideas for, the AJ knew plenty of architects that could help.
Also said hi to Dan van Gelder from Exemplar Properties, who was buoyant after a few happy hours in the bunker, and Tom Bloxham from Urban Splash, who said he liked meeting all the architects at MIPIM - I am sure the feeling is mutual. His exclusive BBQ party at his villa is tomorrow night.
Had lunch with Roger Zogolovich too, and over a dish of sea urchin, he said a short chat with an architect at MIPIM was sometimes all it took to know you were interested in commissioning them. ‘If you feel like they’ve got ideas and you enjoy talking to them, you think hey, I could work with this person.’
All the architects I’ve met are glad they came, but there were no stories of bags of money and big cheques. There was talk of potential commissions, strong leads, follow-up meetings… The mood is optimistic, but also realistic.
All this talking took its toll, however, and by the end of today, I’d completely lost my voice. My final hours of networking will be whispered.
Freezing start for the Royal Docks presentation at Hotel Majestic this morning, just like the actual Royal Docks I remember from when I worked on masterplans there. Newham and Canning Town have really been pushed here this year as notable opportunities. Attended a seminar where everyone was criticising Dubai. A Turkish developer pointed out that half the panel had worked in Dubai - cue embarrassing silence. Had meeting on the Manchester stand, then off to the London stand, then back to another meeting on the Manchester stand, talking about masterplanning regeneration pre-recession. More invites coming in, rearranged timescales etc. Lee Mallet, a 20 year MIPIM veteran, tells me to get better organised next year. Two practices both claim to have picked up a pair of projects each and the terrace on the London stand is once again buzzing.
Bright sunny Wednesday at MIPIM. Waded through a stack of emails from across the Woods Bagot world – great excitement about the Presidents ground breaking ceremony next week at our Baku airport project. Attended a breakfast briefing on the regeneration of the Royal Docks – a vast site and amazing opportunity. Terry Farrell made a powerful observation about the need to have bridges to easily and locally connect people across the river and docks - I’m not sure the cable car will do this. I then took coffee at café Roma with old friends and colleagues before returning to the London Pavilion.
This seems to be the year of the iPad at MIPIM. Lots of architects who could not justify the cost of a stand were roaming around with mobile presentations. However I was reminded about where the money in the property industry really lies after a meeting on board one on the yachts at Jetee Albert Edouard. At the other extreme, I took up the kind invite for a buffet lunch in one of the back street cafés which was full of jolly architects recounting tales of overwork and poor fees. Curiously a Buddha sandcastle is being constructed on the beach – just one of those MIPIM moments I guess. Now I’m off to see friends and collaborators at the vast JLL marquee – and they all seem to be called Jonathan!
I meet up with my colleague Iain for the first time since arrival. As we head to the German stand for a chat we are both in agreement that a.) Confidence is fragile but returning b.) The ‘energy’ in the London Pavilion is second to none (tired model aside) and that c.) Good weather brings out a smile, raises the spirits and generally leads to more positive conversations (hardly a revelation!). As we head off for seperate lunches, Iain says ‘Tonight we dance’ my response is bemusement … Apparently tonight is the night for ‘Hang the DJ’ a late late night party. As we part - I shuffle to a nearby bar for a swift half with the locals as I contemplate the thought of the shocking prospect to come!
Another fuzzy head this morning after a fantastic night at the AR Future Projects dinner. Well done to our guests SOM, who won the Offices Award, which we sponsored. I managed not to trip when presenting the gong as there was only one step; one on the way up and none on the way down?! Times are clearly still hard! Also big congratulations to Mossessian & Partners for winning Overall winner & Mixed Use prizes, we bought them a celebratory drink at the bar, a charming bunch - well deserved.
The fun continued for a couple of hours at the bar before a dip in the sea (yes, really), then finished off the night at The Martinez. Not sure what time we got to bed but I was asleep before my head hit the pillow after a really productive day/night! Limping back to Cannes for the final day, squeezing as much as we can out of the final day - just had a last minute invite to a party on a yacht in the harbour…..
This is the coldest MIPIM I’ve been to, even in the sun! The weather is focusing everything indoors so less chance for a reflective stroll down the Croisette. More a very long stride all the way to the Carlton to warm up in the bar. Combined with the hi-tech security systems on show, the focus is much more on what’s happening in the bunker.
The London stand/tent, now on the beach, sounds great, but I haven’t seen anyone with their shoes off in these early spring conditions. Consequently I’ve spent more time deep in the bunker this year. I came across a good discussion panel yesterday – ‘Making Regeneration happen in the UK’ chaired by Jackie Sadek. Howard Bernstein (Manchester), Neil McLean (Leeds) and Mike Whitby (Birmingham) were impassioned and encouraged about existing potential in regeneration, which was good since I went there to hear which new word was going to replace ‘regen’.
Less encouraging was a panel discussion on iconic architecture. With an international line-up there was much fumbling of translation earphones, both on-stage and off-stage, which meant for us all being distracted from the (rather wordy) presentations. What they all seemed to be saying was that one shouldn’t set out to design icons. I thought everyone knew that! Despite this, most of the panel took the opportunity to show us just how iconic their buildings unarguably were. Half the audience left after Ben Van Berkel spoke, which was a poor show, since the following speaker Robert Greenwood from Snohetta, was the most convincing on the day. This event was out of place at MIPIM and left us all feeling flat as we went back into the cold.
I then came across a decent icon in the making……..
Source: Richard Scott
I have just left the Paris pavillion and now have a ‘tasteful’ mini Eiffel Tower on a ribbon around my neck. Honorary French status now guaranteed! I am considering a ‘change of career’ however having just witnessed a model of Hedgehog de M’s new Parisian Glass Tower. It looks great but what I thought was a residential scheme turns out to be an office project! If those are sensible office floor plates then I really am a Frenchman.
At the superb AR Future Awards talk turned from the glittering array of winners to the habitual non-payment on non-UK jobs. Incredibly some stands in the MIPIM bunker were showcasing projects for which the architects had not been paid a cent (including some who had nearby stands themselves). Among the ‘stung’ practice was SOM. Cheeky.’
It’s a 7.30am start; a jog along La Croisette. I am joined by a throng of other fitness delegates and locals. Legs are beginning to ache from the previous days walking up and down La Croisette to the various events… I knew I should have brought ‘sensible shoes’ as my mother would say (and also Norman Taylor, Capita Symonds’ MIPIM veteran… how does he know so many people here?).
Over to the London Pavilion for my stint at our stand. A vast crowd had gathered - obviously my popularity is growing…but no, Peter Rees is about to give his talk on the future of the City. Peter Murray is interviewing. A throng of architectural notoriety await Peter’s close-to-the-edge commentary. They are not disappointed.
A simple opening question on whether there is a burden as Chief Planner in the City…Yes I am responsible for 4,000 years of urban planning and architecture in the City…only 2,000 have occurred so far though ….If you had similar powers as in France to cut mass boulevards through London what would you do…well if the French were not so good at signing surrender treatise they could have had a great City like London (always good to insult your host nation I say)…..Umm, I would move the Dome of St. Pauls to Milton Keynes, actually no, they have one already and two might be viewed as a bit rude…..Peter moves on….the City is full of surprises, is there any thing that surprises you? Well my apartment overlooks south, from the City over the Thames, when I wake up every morning open the curtains, I see an enormous erection…the crowd (looked shocked)…yes it’s the Shard getting higher and higher! What five architects do you most admire? Ken Shuttleworth and Terry Farrell look up…. Wren, Inigo Jones, Soane, Hawksmoor. …oh and that great Welshman Frank Lloyd Wright (his mother was Welsh - Peter is Welsh and like to promote the Welsh) Peter has dodged the question. What do you think of Chipperfield’s new Project on the South Bank…Oh you mean the ‘Mini-Shard’? ….yes….well, he could have improved it by coming to talk to myself (Peter Rees) rather than just submitting it straight for planning!
When it’s cold in Cannes, it’s really cold. On Monday and Tuesday the east wind blew a bitter chill through the town. Optimistic Brits expecting the balmy Mediterranean shivered in beach restaurants and complained of underheated hotels.
But on Wednesday Cannes returned to form and today is truly balmy - as I write my blog on the promenade.
It’s been two days of relentless lunches dinners, meetings and presentations, culminating last night with Hurley Palmer Flatt’s dinner for fifty at the Michelin 3* Moulin de Mougin. A treat indeed.
The London stand is buzzing with back to back events in a tent two thirds of the size of Paris’s civic if empty elegance. But, it’s off to Manchester now. They always have a good show.
Source: Jack Pringle
Day 3 and my first blog. I’ve some catching up to do I’m told! I awake to that classic Cannes view, a clear blue sky and from the balcony a partial view of the Mediterranean looking splendid. Given ‘hotel horror’ stories that we hear the YRM team have ended up in a very good location. Full marks to Angela for that!
The memory of Tuesdays disastrous journey from London has abated. In total it took me 10 hours to reach the South of France. Brought about by mist at London City Airport, cancelled flights, connections missed and luggage lost. I arrived late on Tuesday evening to ‘helpful’ updates from the office suggesting ways to make a single set of clothes last 4 working days!
Following a get together with old friends and familiar faces at Caffe Roma it was late to bed after a quick supper and the depressing spectacle of an Arsenal defeat. Day 2 was an altogether different affair. An early start, peppered with meetings, lunches and presentations with the evening following a similar pattern. I’ve hardly seen my colleague as we both pursue our diary commitments.
I’m looking forward to a breakfast catch up with Iain over a croissant today. So what was said and learnt on Mipim Wednesday? No surprises here really ….. Fees are a concern with stories of bids lost to levels which are far from sustainable. Project deliverables cut in an attempt to keep fees low. In turn client frustrations when the realization dawns that planning or tendering at this level brings associated risk. Not enough clients ( surprise, surprise), although there was a whisper last night that a Mipim architectural commission had been won!
Talk has focused on the RIBA, its future role and how it can help the industry. Not enough is being done is the general talking point, many are saying the profession is at a crossroads, especially for small firms. Education also is in a perilous state.
This aside, the mood is of battle hardened survival tinged with doses of black humour. The general hope is that by the time we assemble here again next year the worst will be behind us.
My final note for now concerns the London Pavilion: When you set yourself both up against and next to Paris we must surely do better than the rather ‘tired’ offering on display here. I remember seeing the London model back in 2009. It’s not travelling well, is looking forlorn, dusty and inexcusably is out of date. Come on chaps – we can do better than this!
I admit that yesterday passed in a bit of a blur, not helped by the water to my flat being cut off for 24 hours due to road works. However, there were better moments. A bottle of Georgian wine that was given to me as a gift by the Deputy Finance Minister of Adjara where we’re doing a ski resort and a fascinating Mipim roundtable organised by Phillipe Uzzan on the effects of sports facilities on the city - intimate, great range of people and a nice hour out of the hustle and bustle of the Croisette doing something cerebral.
Today is looking equally packed, so I’m taking the opportunity of the fact that my breakfast appointment hasn’t turned up yet to sit at my favourite hotel that offers free wifi as well as good food (sadly the later isn’t free) to type this, whilst I contemplate the logistics of getting to a certain party on Friday morning in the hills, without missing my flight.
For me, getting an invitation to lunch with Roger Zogolovitch is the MIPIM equivalent of Tony Soprano becoming a made man – it’s the big time. The king of SO:SO (London’s Southwark and Southbank for novices) is an architect/property developer and gourmand – what’s not to love. A MIPIM veteran, he gives good lunch and conversation. Most of the chat centred around (again) the need for a vocal and dare I say, aggressive defender of the architecture profession.
MIPIM is fairly ‘gossip’ light in comparison to last year but the general consensus is that the big money is flooding back into London. Apparently, world events have reminded the money men that London is a stable and a very desirable place to be. Unfortunately, little of the cash seems to be leaking out to the regions.
Team Aedas completed Cycle to Cannes 2011 and celebrate din style. It was a gruelling day yesterday with minor a detour to avoid a very steep climb into a busy town. With weary limbs, and mentally at breaking point, we took an alternate route which saw us facing 3 times the amount of climb because the road repeatedly switched back and forth. The view at the top however was fantastic, the hills gave way to a glistening Mediterranean below with Cannes glistening within striking distance.
On our final decent towards the harbour we meet with Boris Johnson who was riding a Barclays bike and together we rolled into town to a frenzied reception. I have to say, things got tight as we turned the final corner and saw the finishing flags for the last time, but with the riders vying for position we finished in a true tour de France fashion. What an achievement by all and a truly fantastic event! The organisation and support of our staff was second to none. On arriving, there was a real carnival atmosphere with cameras flashing away and the press interviewing riders. After the initial celebrations it was time to pack our bikes into their boxes and head for a well deserved drink or two. I had a bite to eat at a good pizzeria in the old town, clipping round in cleats and still lycra’d up, then went back to the hotel to get suited. After than I stayed out until around 2 am seeing who’s about!
This morning I was greeted by the swaying palms, the beach and the bitter sweet thought of not getting on a bike. The prospect of breakfast on the beach was good. I met up with some of the other riders at the Aedas breakfast and chatted to guests for a good couple of hours, absorbing the atmosphere and high spirits of all there. Farewells were then said to fellow cyclist and colleagues, Kate Eagle and Alex Pimley who were headed to the airport for a flight out. I have to say I’m thrilled that we have been involved with this and contributed to such a major event, raising over £1 million for charities. This was a staggering achievement by sponsors and cyclist alike. Would we do it again? Yes, without doubt. Would I go the whole distance again? Lets see…. Cycle to Cannes 2011 … it was a genuine pleasure!
Source: Niall Cairns
It’s all about the Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects awards tonight - get a sneak peak of the winners in the official publication.
Last night I couldn’t resist having a drink (or two) while watching the footie in Morrison’s and as designated driver this meant we had to catch a taxi back to the villa, leaving the car abandoned in Cannes. I can tell you I was not in the good book this morning as my lapse meant us scrabbling round at 7am trying to find a taxi to come and pick us up, when the car arrived by utter coincidence it was Fabrice, who has been driving us for the last 3 years, so quite used to our erratic British behavior!
Thanks to Fabrice’s speedy/borderline illegal driving we arrived in plenty for our breakfast meeting with Peter Drummond of BDP. Following breakfast we managed a few hours on the Future Project Stand then we met with Luigi (pictured) and Nick of CZWG at Plage L’Ondine for a lovely long lunch. Now we’re off to drinks with PRP before the main event tonight, The Future Projects Awards dinner at Palais de Stephanie which we’re sponsoring. Off to find a telephone box or other suitable receptacle to do our superhero routine and get changed into our glad rags!
Source: Lindsay Urquhart
Today I saw a brilliant looking masterplan - Musheireb in Doha by EDAW/AECOM with London architects. John Rose from Dohaland talked me through the 5 year programme; it is taking 5 years to build one city centre block in London but they don’t have retaining walls, 4 levels of basement, Grade I listed buildings and 2 tube lines…
Paris tent always looks better than London, very quiet but with a terrace of fine diners. The London terrace was heaving, standing room only and beer. Vive la difference. La Defense models of signature architects offerings came next - it’s not a zoo it’s an architectural menagerie. Was just in time for Boris’ excellent stand up act. What a buzz. What a noise. Terry Farrell talked quietly about Vauxhall. Ealing stand is good. New initiatives in Southall.
Most amazing stand is St Petersburg - it’s a Disney-like reincarnation of rococo splendour with gilded chairs and white leather pads, a fin de siècle cafe bar! Back in the hotel I am increasingly worried about the lift. It rises 200 mm after every two metre drop. It hit the ground so heavily this morning the lady next to me fell on the floor. I think I have chipped a tooth. Speaking to a lift engineer to see if seamless belt drop should have read bungee dive.
MIPIM BREAKING NEWS: FOA reveals latest Birmingham New Street plans
So how do we build schools for £1000/sqm ….. ? I’ve had that conversation a few times this week (it’s not all big mega masterplans). I suppose all things are possible ….
A collapsed roof in a Cannes restaurant caused a last minute venue change for my kind lunchtime host, making me explore a part of the city I had thus far avoided.
Now I know why.
Seedy, badly maintained public realm and the malign influence of Boulevard du Ferrage combined with grey skies, made me almost feel that I was in some deprived part of the UK that desperately needed regeneration not the well-heeled south of France.
With Cannes host to what is arguably the largest property fair in the world and a wealthy population, isn’t time that they got their own house into order? They could learn from other cities such as Bordeaux that have transformed their centres, instead of piecemeal interventions that are more like band-aid rather than anything comprehensive.
Even better, whilst they’ve got the crop of the world’s property people here, why not engage some of them in a charette with proposals to sort out the city properly…all sponsored by Reed Midem of course.
Arrived 10.30pm last night and did usually tour of cafe Roma to Martinez. Met everyone from Ardmore to Ziolu. We experienced excessive drink prices in hotel but the crowd was feeling good after the CBRE dinner! Good drinks with URS this morning and had lunch with alex from NCE and the boys from Avalon. Onwards and upwards!!!
Source: Niall Cairns
Suddenly it’s a day later than when I arrived …. It all seems to have dissolved between presentations and catchup on the Manchester Stand, the Manchester bar and Cafe Roma.
Quote of the day ….. ‘when Manchester leads, others follow’….. The mood here is cautious optimism…..a design and development community working together with the political and academic forces of the north to come out the other side of the firestorm ….
MIPIM BREAKING NEWS: KPF and MAKE among architects chosen for Earls Court redevelopment
It’s mid-morning at the Palais. There are various seminars on China and European cities - always of interest as I worked in China in the early days, circa 1993-95.
A cold wind is blowing from the west keeping most indoors, though a sheltered terrace at midday is a pleasant treat. Lots of people are now running to meetings, it’s like a frenzy. Passing some stands is also challenging; slow down or make eye contact and they will have you. ‘Are you interested in Switzerland?’ I’m asked. Well…eh. Opportunities in Rwanda? They are all here. Hamburg and the German states, Torino, Birmingham, Brno - all with new initiatives and masterplans.
The most common complaint from those I meet is accommodation. My Cannes hotel is in Marseilles - well it feels like it. Others talk of apartments above night clubs, apartments with neon lights over the windows, dreadful hotels, expensive hotels, dreadfully expensive hotels where the TVs don’t work. One MD of a large London residential developer was in a panic last night as it was Barcelona v Arsenal. Word got round about which pub to meet in. Never mind the opening cocktail party, some say.
Now off for the London tent - homage to the Marquee…how British.
Quote of the morning so far has to goes to Michael Bear, Lord Mayor of the City of London, who said: ‘The city is leading the way on the recycling agenda … in fact I’m even recycling my own speeches!’
Meanwhile, BFLS have launched the first practice ‘app’ for smart phones. The practice aims to register the project – which shows off their work – with apple next week.
Elsewhere, it emerged that Allies and Morrison with article 25 are trying to commission one hundred sketches by one hundred architects – all of the city of London! Each doodler would be given a different plot and then the pictures will be auctioned off. How do I sign up?
I think we created a world MIPIM first last night. A dinner with a precise 50/50 gender split.
Our table spent considerable time trying to dissect Tory party policy in light of Michael Gove’s criticisms of architects making too much money. Apparently, Gove thinks all architects are ‘Lords’ and have multiple homes. Our intensive survey at the table revealed that the majority of architects, after 7 years study, earn less than the half the average GP. However, our confusion really rests with the central Tory party stance on enterprise and entrepreneurship (aka ‘Fill your boots’). Apparently, lavish profits in the arms, oil or banking sectors should be celebrated. However, anyone in a turtle-neck who uses the word ‘vernacular’ should be sacrificed to the Daily Mail for a public flogging. It’s a shame that there is no industry voice to highlight the apparent mismatch to Gove.
There is also very genuine sympathy for the current situation at RMJM. Most architects have some connection and affection for the practice from days of old. The public resignations of two senior members (I paraphrase Oscar Wilde – to lose one is misfortune, to lose two is carelessness) is a pretty damning indictment of the state of play. However, I am sure that RMJM’s sensitive response “people coming and going is a natural and regular occurrence’ has left clients, staff and suppliers reassured that everything is ship shape!
It’s all a bit of a blur! If this was my first time (it is in fact my fourth) I would be thinking this is so unproductive, almost good fun but really not part of progressing things back in the office. However, I now know better and can reassure myself that despite the overload of conversation (or at least two people speaking at each other), instant superficial and uninformed critique of countless city-scale projects, not sticking to my normally impeccably healthy diet and drinking like I’m a 16 year old, the first full day at MIPIM actually will form part of a coherent marketing strategy for Surface and indeed for everyone else I shared with today. The blur is the impressionistic image of multiple threads, layers and connections emerging. I have learnt not to panic!
Source: Richard Scott
MIPIM BREAKING NEWS: ‘Meanwhile’ London competition winners announced
‘It’s the little things in life,’ complains the man opposite me. ‘The new Mipim badges don’t fit business cards anymore.’
I nod sagely. I had noticed this early in the morning when I had exchanged the first
business card of the week, realising that I not only didn’t have space to put more than three cards behind my badge but that most normal size cards either got stuck or didn’t fit in the first place.
The man continues, ‘The other thing is that this dinner is timed with the Barcelona versus Asenal match.’
The others agree and almost like a scene out of the wild west where mobile phones have replaced guns, everyone around me suddenly dives to get their iPads, iPhones and Blackberrys out to find out the latest score. A happy silence ensues.
Who needs property when you can have football?
Boris barnstormed the bunker on his Barclays Bike. First speaking at the assembly (sorry Boris, missed that one - I was ‘working’) where he dissed the French for being light fingered. Then at the London stand to welcome the Cycle to Cannes charity riders and extoll the merits of London. We’re on the up - apparently.
Peter Murray’s lycratastic Cycle to Cannes raised about £250k, some of which goes to my charity Article 25. Thanks Peter.
My 6.00 meeting texted me - ‘sorry, held hostage at the Matinez bar by ISG can you join us?’. MIPIM has really started.
MIPIM BREAKING NEWS: Call for architects to design Olympic Park legacy housing
Busy day with the movers and shakers of MIPIM. Earlier today we bumped into the ever charismatic Tom Bloxham (sporting his trademark trilby), who tried to persuade us to change our flights so we could join his infamous party on Friday - very tempting as it really is the party of the week.
It wouldn’t be fair to say we ‘bumped’ into Boris as we actively sought him out, and we managed to corner him for a photo for the 2nd year running. He looked pretty good considering he’d just arrived by bike. Rumors were he’d do the talk in Lycra. Fortunately these were unfounded!
Out on the terrace now, the wine is flowing and there are a lot red cheeks and sun burned noses. There’s no doubt the vibe is much more positive compared to the last couple of years. There does however appear to be a clear divide between London and the rest of the UK. ‘Bring on 2012!’ Boris Johnson concluded wisely in his speech!
Glad to see the chaps from Power Rangers made it this year! Who says 2011 isn’t a time for celebrations …. ?
After two breakfast meetings I finally arrived at the London Pavilion on the first real day at MIPIM. It seems very much like last year - a combination of architects and engineers surrounded by major project or local authority stands – Earls Court, Newham etc. There was a Huge Barratt stand. The London model looks great and it’s fantastic to see our three major Woods Bagot city projects represented; 100 Bishops Gate, 10 Trinity and Mint Hotel.
Discussions at breakfast and lunch are all about sustainable refurbishment of existing commercial stock – everyone seems to be jumping onto the Brookfield Green band wagon as fast as they can. Rushed over to welcome the Cycle to Cannes team arrive at MIPIM led by Boris Johnson on a Barclays bike. After a long wait Boris finally makes his usual amusing speech and implores everyone to consider the amazing opportunities at the Royal Docks. Long evening at the very well placed Savills stand congratulating the cyclists and putting the world to rights. I seem to have committed to riding to Cannes next year. Still very cold!
I didn’t want to come over all hair-shirt, but MIPIM is an interesting place to be for the 100th International Women’s Day. How far have we come girls? Let’s ponder the following:
- The chartered plane for the Manchester contingent featured goody bags for all – the gifts were ties and cufflinks
- Overheard at the departure gates yesterday amongst a group of white, male property lookalikes – how’s your golf? (I once actually played in a property golf day and was completely hopeless but won a bottle of champagne for being a girl)
- The girls in red sateen and high heels on the Russian stand have been joined by ladies in skin-tight ‘snow suits’. Apparently, the ladies are essential to property investment decisions – not sure what their official job title is
I think that International Women’s Day still has a few years to run.
Finally on our way to mipim! Somewhere over Paris my colleague Ben is in a restful mood restoring his energy for the days ahead ….
As Kermit once said, ‘It’s not easy being green,’ but Richard Waite, Nick Shattock and Larry Malcic all proved at the ULI debate that although it may not be that simple, it’s up to us as a profession to provide sustainability leadership.
Richard made the audience think and question their preconceptions, Larry spoke about responsibility, adaptive reuse and how design added value and Nick showed that we can’t afford not to be green, whilst also steering the conversation towards smart cities and the next step on the sustainability agenda. Our conversation ranged far and wide from impressive Latin quotes (who said Mipim wasn’t intellectually simulating and just about sipping champagne?), to the true nature of what sustainability meant and more topically whether legislation and the localism agenda would create a Nimbyesque atmosphere that would make it difficult to build to the standards that would be required.
All in all it showed that it’s complex topic that’s going to run and run.
Up early today for a breakfast meeting - with three beautiful ladies that would outshine anything the Krasnodar, Russia Pavilion could offer (their words once they knew I was doing this blog) - from Bespoke recruitment agents. Interesting to know that people are looking at opportunities to move ship now there is more optimism!
Dashed to the London Pavilion to man the Capita Symonds stand. Much cursing as no one knows how to fire up our beautiful Apple Mac computer. Panic over, networking commences in anger. I am sure you are meant to network with new contacts. However, we are visited by fellow consultants and agents.
My stint over, I explore the London Pavilion. Many London boroughs are exhibiting plus large masterplans for Earls Court, Kings Cross, etc. Croydon appears not to have such a major presence this year (have they reached their apsired vision - I’ll attempt to find out). All the great and good have turned out - Terry Farrell, Ken Shuttleworth and Boris Johnson. I bump into Peter Rees, chief Planner for the City of London Corporation. He is always friendly and welcoming (have known him since my Number 1 Poultry days in the early 90’s). He is looking forward to an entertaining presentation with Peter Finch tomorrow. He asks to be heckled to make it more lively. - make a note in my busy schedule to attend and heckle as requested.
Running late for lunch with Cyril Sweett at the Miramar Beach Restaurant. Get there, join in drinks to find it’s not the right party (mine is on Thursday not Tuesday!). They offer for me to stay. I politely apologise having had a good chat to Peter Folwell of Plowman Craven regarding cycling. I get the host’s business card, Martin Edwards partner and lawyer from Martineau. They are working in Germany, Birmingham and London. Many German businessmen. My German is not good and so I move on.
4.15pm the Cycle to Cannes arrive into Cannes (I did this two years ago, a great experience for those who like a casual bike ride). I am told that they had sunshine all the way down with no mishaps….surely not! Boris Johnson leads the peloton on a Boris Bike! Capita Symonds’ own John Rudge completes the ride and gets his photo with Boris (Boris didn’t do the whole ride…and in a suit and tie? No, he joined a couple of miles back…)
Boris completes his photo shoot and rushes into the London Pavilion for his 5.00pm not before a obligatory photo with our own Frank Devoy in front of the Capita Symonds Stand. He is always happy to please.
Off to the Leeds Stand, down in the ‘Bunker’ for cocktails and more networking quickly followed by a chance meeting with Ray McAuley, BD Director of Morgan Sindall at Cafe Roma.
It’s a quick change at the Hotel and then out for the first Capita Symonds Dinner event at the L’Auberge in the Old Town. An oversubscribed table made up of developers, agents and hotel operators. The atmosphere is lively and the conversation focusses on the day’s events. My guest, James Buckley of Estates Gazette, is getting concerned that he may not have enough news for his editorial deadline. A quick run around the table and we don’t appear to be able to (or unwilling to reveal) give him any help. Hotel development and office refurb is a key topic and the way forward for 2011 (I am not really going to reveal any gossip or ‘dish the dirt’ am I?).
Was Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ Union Square project placed the wrong way round on the London model? Yes it appears so. I’ve just seen Simon Allford nonchalantly reposition it…
Lovely start to MIPIM this morning, breakfast on the terrace of our beautiful Villa as we watched the sun rise over the hills of Mougins. Sadly the serenity was short lived and it was downhill from there, literally and metaphorically. As we descended from the hills of Mougins we hit terrible traffic en route to Cannes, and there few near misses with some very animated French drivers, accompanied by a chorus of screams from my passengers. Ended up screeching up outside the Croisette Beach Hotel at 7.59am for our 8.00am meeting with Andrew Pryke of Capita Architecture. Thankfully we don’t have to get back into the car until home time – we’ve a full day of meetings ahead. A quick break now, off to check the car hasn’t be clamped or towed or keyed by one of the locals we almost hit!
MIPIM can be like a giant blind dating arena. There are many other angles here as well and last year I found the presentations on European housing, city making, city economics and infrastructure of great use. There is a marketing angle but there is also a knowledge base to be tapped into. It’s not as though one cannot find these presentations elsewhere but pace and intensity here is everything.
I notice a luxury residential architect, Westminster-based but with Middle Eastern work. Scott Brownrigg has a big contingency showcasing a new European project. Any Libyan work? No, they say, on a matter of principle. Good judgement!
A few texts came in late last night as some people have started ‘networking’ early before the conference opened. They will be totally ‘networked’ by midnight. Overheard someone arranging a meet for 2.00am in the Carlton Bar. Of course - there is that side of MIPIM too. I wonder if I am allowed in on a unicycle.
Only 110 miles to go! Can’t wait to meet Boris Johnson who will be joining us for the last stretch into Cannes on a London bike. Little apprehensive about some serious hills this morning.
Source: A Union Flag dinner dress?
I like dinners when you spend just a couple of hours setting the world to rights. Tonight was with Brian Kilkelly the acting CEO of the Urban Land Institute. We talked about liveable cities, private public partnerships in regeneration projects, governance, how think tanks could foster these relationships and then an hour into the conversation even Tyler Brule got a mention – all in the civilised surroundings of Le Grand!
Tomorrow is a different story. My HOK colleagues arrive at around lunchtime, with our cycling supremo, Barry Hughes a few hours later, probably again being one of the few to have cycled the entire way here. The rest of the day will be a bit of a blur too, but special mention must go to the ULI sustainability debate at 3pm in the bunker with AJ’s own Richard Waite, Nick Shattock from Quintain and HOK’s Larry Malcic that I’ll be chairing. So I’m having an early night by Mipim standards but there’s barely room for breath over the next three days.
So what will set the tone for the coming few days? Surely it has to be the super keen Cannes retailers who seem to be quick at spotting an opportunity with the UK being the country of honour. Just think of the merchandising opportunities!
A pre-MIPIM atmosphere was created at Holistic’s ‘Dutch Treat’ at the Plage Royal on Monday night - what a good way to start the week! Good chat amongst friends before the serious matter of working the bunker begins.
An early 5.30am start from home on Monday marks the start of my 2011 MIPIM. After a 30 minute journey to Luton Airport in sub zero temperatures I am greeted with a crowded terminal full of familiar faces. Along with the the five or six Capita Symonds co-MiPIMiers there are Aecom engineers and many others in the queues.
Fortunately a 1 hour 50 minute flight to Nice sees a change in temperature and a bright sunny day.
However more queues for the bus to Cannes reminds me that people don’t queue here and it’s every man and woman for himself in the bid to get that precious double seat and space for themselves.
However the journey is quick and painless.
A quick check in at my hotel, and change and out for lunch at a Beach Bistro with my Capita Symonds colleagues. There is much calm before the storm, with the Croisette virtually empty. The locals seem to be enjoying the one day in the year when an event is not happening in Cannes.
Walking over to Cafe Roma (the much frequented cafe/ bar opposite the conference centre) I find it is quiet. Hardly what it will be like from tomorrow onward!
Interestingly, some installation work is going on in the conference centre. This will go on through the night to prepare Cannes for its busiest week of the year. It is rumoured that more champagne is drunk (to secure deals!) at MIPIM than at any other time. I believe that this is the myth of halcyon days long gone.
Registration to the event is painless and after dealing with a few e-mails the evening beckons.
Cafe Roma is the central meeting place for the number of Capita Symonds architects, structural engineers, services and agents to meet. MIPIM is very much a place for chance meetings. Exquisite collisions with key industry leaders that could never happen back in the UK. People are more relaxed at MIPIM and that person you have been trying to meet for months suddenly has time to talk.
Today is no exception for chance meetings. I bump into two architects from my Stirling Wilford days that I haven’t seen for about ten years - Chris Dyson and Iain Clavedetcher. Both now have their own successful practices.
Dinner is with Capita Symonds at a small restaurant in the old town. As the restaurant begins to fill up there is a sense of anticipation in the air. The commercial market appears to be optimistic. All delegates appear to be going through their rehearsals for the oncoming event. Like Olympic athletes, they are limbering up and going through their last minute routines before the race for that crucial deal, the win that will make their 2011 season.
Returning to the hotel I am grabbed by Richard Payne with his Turner and Townsend colleagues who accuses me of stalking them! Very rich as everywhere I have been they seem to follow later! They offer a drink and a review of their campaign.
Things are looking good for the forthcoming week.
It appears I’ve uncovered the first images of this year’s London model. Anyone spot the new additions?
Left home on a bright, sharp March day. However the M4 &M40 were closed so I very nearly missed the flight! T5 saved the day (as I’m bound to say ) dropped off at 9.15 and passed through check-in, security in just 30mins!
I arrived in an extremely windy and cold Nice with a bunch of overweight but jovial Russians. Overcharged by the cab on the way to Cannes (as expected!). Met with Jonathan Clarke who was looking bleary eyed after his early start.
I took a quick conference call to discuss the design of Baku Presidential building with the Woods Bagot team before heading to the London Pavilion. The stand was only half built and screen not working (see photo) - guess they will be working all night to get it all finished. I walked to the clock tower of Notre Dame de L’Esperance on top of the hill overlooking Cannes. The MIPIM Palais des Festivals really is one of the ugliest buildings in one of the most beautiful sea side locations! It’s still very cold.
As I enter Cannes, I’m greeted with an unusual sight. The ‘bunker’ has been painted, shuttered concrete replaced by bright white paint, the grey tinted windows converted to marine blue with the huge Casino sign moved down to the ground floor with its own special entrance. Clearly they must think that the property market is on the up as it looks as if it has been done in time for MIPIM – and there’s a smell of fresh paint in the air! The architectural effect is now that of an overblown gin palace or a cruise liner if you’re being kind.
Right next door to the new renovations there is also board showing the beautiful original casino in the sixties. I’m not sure why it’s there. It’s almost as if someone in the municipality is trying to justify the monstrosity as part of a misplaced advertising campaign.
Across the road, Caffe Roma has also been spruced up and is full of locals having rather nice looking lunches, but I suspect it will only take a few nights of very drunk QS’s and agents to take it back to its former state.
On the cheerier side, as we walk down the Croisette there are more beach tents and yachts around than last year but in the middle distance there is a rather bizarre looking structure in the middle of the ocean. Personally, I think it looks like an oil rig. Perhaps they are now drilling for the black liquid gold in Cannes? Any ideas gratefully received and should be tweeted to @ArchiDame…
Sitting under a Picasso in the beautiful village of St Paul de Vance, after a night of celebrating the Nice Carnival by watching fantastic floats, MIPIM couldn’t seem further away. The lunch at the Colombe D’Or is becoming a regular feature of a period of relaxation before the big event.
We’re rather enjoying the civilised lunch in the absence of any braying property professionals when the regional waft of Anglo-Saxon catches my attention.
‘So’ asks a tanned, Ray Ban wearing man in his forties, ‘how much did they have to pay to get these copies done?’
He gestures to the painting above our heads and the Miro next to the fireplace.The waitress looks puzzled and then as realisation dawns, she says in an icy disdainful tone that only a true French person can manage, ‘Monsieur, they are real.’
[Aedas Cycle to Cannes - Day 4, Dijon to Chanas] What a beautiful morning! And joy of joys - a lie in with wake-up call at 5.45 am! Out of bed at 6am – We were very cold but things warmed as the sun came out. It was fantastic riding – the peleton was working like a dream with James keeping us in check. We have now done two sessions back to back so we are having a well earned recovery stage and stretches before heading out on next couple of runs. Joe is still out and has completed all stages since leaving Greenwich. Amazing and he’s still looking fresh! Hope his knees hold out….. All hills from now on!!!
Riding 14hours a day is simply one of the most extreme things a mere mortal can subject his/her body to. In two and a half days we’ve covered nearly 500 miles. The changing landscape from Greenwich tea house to Dijon steak house is made all the more remarkable by the abundance of mega scale quasi- industrial-agricultural structures which proliferate throughout the French Countryside. On a 50.4km stage today between Dohem and Savy Berlette I spotted this megalith…a citadel come grain silo. Note the door in the bottom right hand corner to help you scale it.
As Adam Brown of Llandolt and Brown Architects put it, too many of the UK’s industrial buildings are simply destroyed and removed from our consciousness. Come on people, let’s adapt these great relics for contemporary use, but not just some high spec resi scheme. What would Cedric Price
Day three over and I’m absolutely exhausted. We rolled into Dijon at around twenty hundred [8pm]. It was a real slog today and we completed every stage since we left the UK so now we’re really feeling it. The breaks are also really short, just five minutes if you are doing the whole day with only a twenty minute lunch. Well, that’s literally a pee break and time to get water, eat a banana and get any other goodies needed for the route ahead.
The weather has been glorious with sunny bright skies – day break over the champagne region was amazing! But tt gets cold in about two minutes once the sun drops for the day. The motorcycle outriders performed another sterling effort and shut down roads for us to roll into our final stop in Dijon. Beef stew and chips. Now bed.
It’s that time of year again. Just as July is to rowing fans about Pimms and south Oxfordshire, March is for us property bores about champagne, yachts and the south of France. Or at least it used to be. Visitor numbers are reported to be the same as last year and some stalwarts, such as the perennial ARUP yacht will no longer be there.
Even the weather is threatening to be grey and cold.
Then adding insult to injury, some of the countries and regions that had been propping up the visitor numbers and giving us geography lessons (Krasnodar’s celebrating 10 years at MIPIM this year), especially those from north Africa and the Middle East may be less in evidence this year.
The problem is the world is a little too interesting at the moment, not that I’m advocating boredom (last time I asked for a quiet time the recession started…), but with too much excitement comes upheaval and as we know through our excitable reporters, revolutions. So the countries that have been propping up the income streams of architects Iike Libya and Egypt aren’t really the safe back-up plans anymore in the face of a slow market back home.
So does that mean I’m changing my MIPIM strategy? Should I just go after ‘safe’ countries?
Not really. Diversification will be really important, but I also won’t forget about those current trouble spots, since when the dust settles, the news crews get bored, the cameras stop filming and finally go home, somebody will still need to help with all the rebuilding and regeneration.
I’m not naive. I know none of this will happen tomorrow but one of the lessons that you learn as an architect is that buildings don’t get constructed overnight and that you should look to the long term. After all, who would have thought that ten years ago Krasnodar and Sochi would be hosting the next winter Olympics?
Good evening all. First leg complete! We had an early start from the flat at the Barbican leaving at 7am after a quick bite to eat and couple of good strong coffees. The first task of the day was to get two bikes, two boxes and around 40kg of kit to the Greenwich park tea room. It was freezing cold on arrival. But we received a nice warming coffee and supportive words from the Aedas marketing team, Thank you.
After a few snaps and some words from Nick Hanmer [Cycle to Cannes commissaire and chief executive] the teams and were off. We kept a steady pace towards the coast, experiencing cloud cover with a couple of warmly welcomed rays of sunshine. The ‘peloton’ is slowly shaping up though we’ve got days to work on that and the team leaders are doing a great job to keep us in shape. The motorcycle out riders did a fantastic job, superb to roll through lights and over roundabouts in one tight pack with the outriders looking after our safety. It’s all very tour de France. Cold winds blasted us on our final approach to Folkestone and the pace really picked up. I am glad of the extra baselayers to keep me warm, cheers Rapha! Pulling up to the hotel was the best moment so far.