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Astragal: Coffey among catalogue of Cannes casualties

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There were numerous casualties at last week’s MIPIM property fair: pride and dignity for some; the wallet (given the cost of accommodation and drink) for others.

But AJ superstar blogger (and architect) Phil Coffey took a harder hit than most as he availed himself of the facilities and accidently dropped his iPhone down a Cannes can before unsuccessfully trying to dry it out in a box of rice. Water disaster!

Surfing the property bubble

Maison Bulle Urban Splash

Maison Bulle Urban Splash

Astragal was lucky enough to attend a MIPIM press briefing at Urban Splash boss Tom Bloxam’s hilltop ‘bubble’ house near Cannes, as mentioned in our MIPIM guide.

The house, Maison Bulle, is often compared to the Tellytubby house and was designed by French architect Antti Lovag, an inspiration to the late Jan Kaplicky.

Despite rumours, Bloxham apparently has no plans to sell. If he ever did, he’d make a tidy sum given that another bubble house by Lovag, for fashion designer Pierre Cardin, is on the market for a truly obscene €300 million.

Happy feet

Mipim shoes

Mipim shoes

An unlikely debate raged a last week. What are the best shoes to wear to MIPIM? Was it to be comfy flats for pounding the promenades or glamorous heels for partying on into the night?

ING Media’s Serra Ataman tweeted her conclusion above. Even AJ blogger Mary Duggan unwittingly entered the #shoesofmipim fray when she wrote that she’d be ‘wearing trainers, not Blahniks’. 

Channelling Otis

Chris and Otis

Chris and Otis

The annual karaoke carnage Rock the Cash Bar – ‘back despite public demand’ – drew in around 300 tune-loving revellers on MIPIM’s final night.

Among the wannabe Bublés at the event – organised by Assembly Studios and Chart Lane – were: Chris Dyson, who delighted the crowds with Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay; Crissie Gizzi of Rider Levett Bucknall with Somebody Else’s Guy; and Graham Hickson-Smith of 3DReid who nailed We Built this City – how apt.

Paddington laid bare

31 london street

31 london street

The light reflecting tower is designed to become a new London landmark

Create Streets has rather hopefully launched a design competition for the site of Renzo Piano’s Paddington Pole.

The lobby group is seeking proposals for the wider area, including where the 254m-tall tower – which developer Irvine Sellar pulled from planning in February – was set to stand.

But this isn’t a competition for architects wanting to see their scheme built. Piano is working on a revised scheme for the site, and Create Streets says the contest proposals will merely act in a ‘positive spirit of assistance’.

Nominative determinism

Harry Rich

Harry Rich

How much did former RIBA chief executive Harry Rich walk away with following his shock departure from the venerable institute in January?

The exact figure has yet to be revealed. But, unsurprisingly given his £160,000 salary, the sum is likely to be sizeable.  

Further clues emerged at the RIBA’s recent council meeting in Edinburgh. According to one source, unbudgeted expenses incurred by the institute under the title ‘group exec restructure’ had hit an eye-watering £282,725.

Given the other senior management changes that have gone on at Portland Place, Rich may not have pocketed the whole lot. But the equivalent of the annual fees of a thousand RIBA members could surely have been better spent.


Following the AJ’s building study of Herzog & de Meuron’s Blavatnik School of Government,  @fibrearchitects tweeted ‘Awesome design, reminds us of Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge!’

Starchitrek jpg

Starchitrek jpg




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