The return of AJ’s much-loved live blog from the frontline of Europe’s biggest property fair. A fly-on-the-wall report from the annual MIPIM international development show byh those on the ground
So back to London with a husky voice and a sore head. I have caught a bug. It must be something to do with too many people in enclosed spaces shaking hands and pecking cheeks. A bit like battery farming. God knows what was on the floor.
It was a great year for me and Kevin Gray (our new technical director) and Joe Morris’ Club Peloton. In hindsight, I think a good strategy for next year would be to have a tag team, one in the bunker, the other flirting outside. The better faster talking networker inside, the casual one outside chain lunching. The former is harder for me even though I have learned a few lessons ‘to work a room’. This would work especially well for a small practice going on a tight budget, although you’d need to do some work in advance to get some appointments in the diary. But actually you can just wander around and meet people, meet people meeting people and bingo there’s your intro.
- All new introductions
- Croydon extravaganza
- London semi-confident
- Roz, Murray, Annalies, Alex, Kevin
- Fiona Scott pregnant at MIPIM! Masterful & congrats.
- New Architects 3 Book launch
- Witnessing a trespass into the expo site
- AirFrance stewards
- I missed my daughter. Like I’d lost an arm.
Anyway, to those of you who avoid MIPIM because you think it is too corporate, desperate, full of men in suits and ladies of the night, it’s not that. It’s what you make of it, and many unexpected encounters.
Final day of MIPIM and I am:
- Encouraged by conversations with architects and developers about how wellness as a building concept (especially in office space) is moving forward and gaining believers. It’s proof that we should keep doing what we’re doing. However, after four days at MIPIM we may need to reflect on that long-forgotten concept of personal wellness.
- Impressed by the regions, who are clearly making a play. Birmingham and Manchester in particular really seem have their tails up. We chatted with one developer who has an interesting proposition we may follow up on…
- Annoyed at Osborne. After his little announcement it seems everyone rushed to do deals before the stamp duty hike took effect, emptying the pots and squashing our fun.
- Proud of how many compliments my beard received over the course of the way!
Just as I thought MIPIM was over, I bumped into a developer client on the flight home and despite him being slightly the worst for wear, he very kindly introduced us to a property agent looking for architects on a North London residential scheme. Amazing! MIPIM works in mysterious ways…
On the opening night a blacked-out Jaguar emblazoned with ‘Greater Birmingham’ roared past us on Cannes’ narrow streets and it all felt rather bizarre. As our blacked-out Mercedes with rather more subtle Piercy & Co branding picks us up outside Caffe Roma (where else) MIPIM’s bizarreness hasn’t entirely faded.
Bizarre for us was that architecture is really a tiny part of MIPIM. Sure, if the Manchester Bar had been wiped out during the early hours one night, a significant chunk of the UK’s best architects would have gone with it (and someone else would have to take on Phil Coffey’s ‘Most Prolific Blogger’ mantle next year). But the sea of suits flooding the waterfront are not there, by-and-large, to talk about design, or commission their next gem.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it but it does mean working hard to be relevant to people beyond architects. To have something to say on things like policy, or funding, to be able to connect the dots from an existing project or client to a potential new one. That view was asserted fairly bluntly by one of our largest developer clients: ’It’s good you’re here - it’s something you should be at,’ he said. ’There are less architects here this year which is good - last year there were too many. Some people shouldn’t bother coming. We’re sick of meeting people who have done a three storey house and want to pitch us a 20 storey office building.’ He then proceeded to point us in the direction of someone we ’should be working with’. Good to be honest I guess…
So, feeling slightly worse for wear, the journey back to reality begins. Looking back at the last 72 hours - despite the rain, hangovers and general exhaustion - I would say this year has been a mega success. Plenty of new ideas to deliver and new friendships to nurture.
Now all that’s left is a two hour flight sitting next to the maddest man at MIPIM, Oliver Rothschild….should be interesting…
Until next year.
The final day is upon us, sore heads and Bloody Marys are in order at the London Stand after an evening of dancing and karaoke. A much more subdued atmosphere and hushed voices today, taking the opportunity to visit some of the stands, including the impressive model in the Istanbul tent.
Beautiful sunny day today. Yesterday consisted of two excellent lunches. The first a kind invitation from his Royal Zogness. His favourite seafood restaurant where upon arrival the only way to get past the surly French doorman is to say Roger’s name. Subsequently a very big smile arrives and we’re ushered upstairs. Very friendly and interesting group of guests - all revelling in seafood heaven followed by an amazing bouillabasse. Fabulous lunch and sad to leave but no two lunch beckons. We head all the way along the Croisette and back in a taxi only to find that we could have walked it in 10 minutes max. Bright sunny restaurant and a great new MIPIM find. A very enjoyable long fish lunch with a developer and his charming and beautiful wife and very good friend. Talking lots about our mutual love of our favourite place and looking forward to a trip there together next month. Can’t wait! The evening ended at Matt Fairman’s Rock the Cash Bar. Everyone in great spirits - cheesy tunes and great vibes. Looking forward to the highlight of the week for me, Tom Bloxham’s BBQ/party at the beautiful Maison Bulles.
As an experiment last night I decided to drop my iPhone in the toilet. It was of course done on purpose, I mean who would be stupid enough to drop their iPhone, down a toilet, at MIPIM. I imagine when O2 lethargically get around to replacing it after two weeks I will have a few messages hanging…’Who’s at Rock the Cashbar…is it worth coming?’…’Phil we are at the Savilles party…no Bon Jovi karaoke and no one dancing on tables and chairs, how’s it your end?’…and more worryingly ‘Phil, sat quietly in a restaurant in the old town talking to Alex Ely, Fiona Scott, David Kohn, Mary Duggan and Mark Waugh about that job we were going to give to you. Hope you can make it?’ All this and no doubt more is sat next to me in a desiccant filled plastic takeaway box, my MIPIM connections fried in electronics. I’ve enjoyed the experiment but now I want my phone back. I’m going in…wish me luck. Thank apple for my iPad pro and pencil.
Thursday and inevitably spirits are flagging, but at least the weather perked up.
A Brexit disaster / unraveling theory is gaining credence amongst chattering MIPIMers. If the UK leaves, the Scots will pull another referendum and will leave the UK to stay in the EU, with a parting gift of a fleet of nuclear submarines which we can’t park anywhere. The dis-United non nuclear Kingdom will get thrown out of the UN Security Council as a dwindling world power.
Meanwhile, our exit from the EU will destabilise it, other countries will leave and the Euro will crash pulling apart the Euro-zone economies. We will enter a minimum five to ten year recession while our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, try’s to tell us it’s been a good move. Maybe.
MIPIM in Cannes closed with the women’s networking group, Chicks with Bricks’ first MIPIM dinner held at L’Ecrin the restaurant on Bijou Beach in the next bay. I must declare an interest here as my wife Holly Porter runs Chicks. Although I say it myself, it was a great evening. The event was a sell out and the restaurant looked great with its beach lit with candles.
They know how to do this stuff here. Annie Hampson, chief City of London planner, gave a great speech, the art auction raised money for the Princes Trust and the disco partied until 2.00am.
Next, back to Blighty and the real world.
So I am on a train going through the French Riviera (imagine the Jurassic Coast on steroids) with a very sore head having only managed about three hours sleep. Clearly booking an early flight was not a good idea.
My last night at MIPIM was fun, started with the Eurotrash splendour of the MIPIM awards. I have literally no idea how the judging criteria worked. I wanted Hazel from ShedKM to win with Tom Bloxham’s new house concept, but something much much worse got the gong…ho hum.
Then we had the obligatory pint of Guiness (or two) courtesy of Foreman Roberts at the Morrison’s Irish Bar. The trouble is that the rest of Cannes had the same idea so the crowd was a weird mix of MIPIMers and students……Finished at the karaoke night with Matt Fairman from Assembly Studios leading a glorious sing-along session, no need for microphones when the whole place joins in!
On my way home I am reflecting on MIPIM. Phil Coffey last night said that you can see the whole property ‘ecosystem’ at the conference - this is right. Developers are hunting sites and funding, funders are hunting for investments, councils are hunting for JV partners and presumably there are some mega-deals going on up in the hills that are the secret inner workings of it all. And where do architects fit into all this? Let me think about that for a bit…….
MIPIM Awards 2016
Blimey, what a marathon! Go London Borough of Newham! They have dancing cranes, RNLI, bridges to Tower Hamlets - and that’s just the start.
Back - as Matt Berry would say - in the Youkay. And suddenly that MIPIM world of the immediate present (which party? what canapé? another drink?) and the distant future (sure, let’s work together on an Azerbaijani shopping mall, of course I’ll help you vision the future of post-digital housing … ) gives way to real time.
But still reeling from figures spouted by London boroughs, of delivering this and that, of instance that this time it’s ‘real’. Which I guess is at the heart of the MIPIM conundrum: That in the maelstrom of all that real estate there’s a strange sence of unreality.
Anyway, things are getting real for me right now as I’ve got a pitch tomorrow morning for a ‘dream’ job. A phrase thst only underlines to show that in architecture it’s almost impossible to split fantasy from reality. Which I suppose is exactly why we all do it in the first place.
Back to Brexit. Enjoyed lunch with a well known powerful progressive developer today. In a bright waterfront tent, loud house music in the background. Ibizan sites for sale, under the radar sales pitch, pitched up late. Not cool. Disappointing that there are two Baoli beach restaurants in Cannes and the taxi took us to the wrong one. Punctuality is underrated in my view. Any rate…apparently in MIPIM political circles it seems that 85 per cent of delegates believe it’s a done deal - we are in - and so the debate isn’t worth having. I’m not sure I agree but then again I’ve always liked playing devils advocate. Thursday is when people start to leave MIPIM/Europe for the UK - lots of goodbyes, melancholy faces and promises, promises that ‘together’ clients, architects and developers will be better and more successful in the future. The fabulous waitresses, waiters and bar owners of Cannes pleased of our money are looking forward to a quiet weekend. Would Brexit feel similar? Would we be leaving Europe for a brighter future? Or after a short period of frantic, political, economic success would they be waving us a happy goodbye?
You know you’re in the Mediterranean when the wind gusts threaten to tear away the MIPIM pavilion tents. The heavy downpour yesterday meant everyone could be found inside on the London Stand where a full roster of seminars focused on proposals and ideas for handling London’s growth. London needs to find solutions to accelerate new infrastructure and the built environment to remain an enjoyable place for all to live. Stuart Lipton, in his keynote address, called for changes to building typology to acknowledge the changing demographics in the workplace and at home; and changes to the planning system to allow large schemes to be evaluated on the basis of outline building design, with detailed planning for individual buildings as a subsequent step. Sounds like zoning? Considering some large tracts of land now being put forward for master plan schemes, for example at Silvertown and at Old Oak Park, focus on urban issues surely should take the lead? Transportation, utilities, jobs, cost effective construction techniques, and public spaces, should be established as ground rules before designing buildings.
The weather in Cannes today is so much nicer, and it makes a tremendous difference being able to hang out in the sunshine!
I started the day mingling on the London stand and then popped along to the Develop Croydon reception on the waterfront. The brilliant Jo Negrini set out a vision of creating both physical and cultural infrastructure in Croydon, with the RISE Gallery as an early example of a change in the creative landscape of South London. All the architects in the room were nodding vigorously!
Then a talk by Harrow on the London Stand about their new development plans, with a very intelligent plan of action laid out by Jamie Ounan of Inner Circle Consulting to bring forward 30 sites in the borough, many council owned. It really does seem like the future of London development is in the ‘Donut’.
Randomly, by the main entrance, I bumped into an old German mate, Simon Takasaki, who was delivering a talk in the Palais on refugee housing in Germany. Had lunch with him afterwards to discuss it, I think in the UK we probably do not understand the scale of this issue in Germany. They have to house over a million refugees, right now, without creating ghettos; it must be by far the most urgent design problem facing the architects over there.
Anyway now popping off to see Paul Finch’s closing piece on the London Stand, then after that my last night at MIPIM…
Today everyone at MIPIM is beginning to look a little jaded. All those late nights have clearly taken their toll!
There’s a lot of talk about how healthy the commercial office sector looks versus residential. It wasn’t long ago that everyone wanted to convert office schemes into luxury housing but it’s the other way around now. All those million pound apartments at Battersea Nine Elms in particular are now being regarded as vulnerable to big price cuts as foreign investors evaporated and the capitals prime residential market received a battering. A senior figure at one very famous developer who I won’t name looked scornfully at the Nine Elms model on the London stand and told me he couldn’t understand the construction there given the lack of local employment opportunities and existing infrastructure. ‘It’s a dormitory’ he said.
Great day yesterday. Everyone crammed into warm and dry spots throughout Cannes. All very sociable indeed. Starting at Price & Myers fabulous roof terrace do. Then onto a developers get together en route back to the Croisette. Later on Heyne Tillett Steel’s bustling rooftop party. Back to the Croisette with the fabulous J-J Lorraine who very kindly took me for much needed sustenance - oysters on the street served up by the amazing French shuckers of Atroux et Brun.
That’s more like it MIPIM!
After an evening of canapés and drinks parties, the flat shoes have come out and we have ventured in to the Palais to debate a new report on the city of London as a place for SMEs.
Anybody read Networking for Dummies 2016? It outlines two approaches - identify a target; approach boldly and express your personality to get noticed. A particularly smart bit of client hunting undertaken yesterday to fulfil approach one. Blagged my way into one of the large housebuilders partys, little bit of confidence, good looks and charm did it, well either that or renaming myself by deedpoll when I saw the guest list on the clipboard. On entry I asked a friend who was the head honcho in the room; pounced, spoke to him, very approachable and keen to meet, extracted his card and we are to have lunch in London. Mission complete. On the reverse side of smart I don’t think drinking from a shot glass hanging from a blue pearl necklace is exactly what ‘expressing your personality’ means - but then it was a gift from Mr Bloxham so I’m hoping it counts.
Beginning to think that the hammer drill wake up call at 8am every morning next door was prearranged by our practice manager Fiona.
Met up with several of our best clients yesterday.
While everyone dreams of new opportunities, MIPIM is a great place to meet people you already know. A pitcher is worth a thousand words as they say. Or a few glasses of rosé are worth a thousand emails anyway. It’s a chance to reinforce relationships and have more relaxed and candid (Cannes-did…get it) conversations than we might have back home. To learn more about their businesses and goals beyond just the next building.
Unexpected highlights included discovering a dream space for the new Piercy & Company office and being rescued from the hands of his own over-eager doormen by Canary Wharf’s Richard Archer.
Wednesday was a wash out as Cannes is no fun in the wind and rain with the temperature plummeting. People dash from pavilion to pavilion and from windy beach tent to tent trying to keep dry and warm. Apartments in the South of France are always under heated so there is no refuge there.
Fortunately I spent the day ‘in the hills’ first in the cosy Colombe D’Or restaurant at St Paul, a guest in a party nestling under the Picassos, Miros and Calders. The food is exquisite Provençal peasant fare and only the brave order a portion of hors d’oeuvre as it could feed a small family.
Despite talk of the Brexit pause business is brisk with plenty of new opportunities surfacing. Will the UK economy bulldoze through this referendum madness?
Dinner was at my, newly built, house and my luck held in the pouring rain; no huge leaks and no power cuts. My heating is uncontrollable, but nicely on the warm side. It seemed to go OK.
So I have now had my second night out at MIPIM at have a slightly sore head from the night before, although thankfully it is sunny today in Cannes, I was beginning to worry that it was a French version of Bangor!
I started at a cocktail party on the beach with HTA, where Sandy Morrison showed me the amazing set of portraits he painted, for charity, of property luminaries like Peter Murray. Not only has he be training for cycle to Cannes, he has also started and finished six large format oil portraits since January. When does he sleep?
Then I went party hopping with Cany Ash, and Christina Norton of Fluid Architects, along the waterfront. The idea was to be serial gatecrashers but disappointingly we kept finding we were on their list, how does MIPIM work I wonder? Unfortunately the rain made it feel slightly less glamorous but as the night wore on I felt less like a drowned rat. Finished again at the Manchester Bar where all the architects seem to regroup at the end of the night for a catch up, and stayed way too late.
Anyway heading off top the London Stand now to see what’s up……
Weather: Bright, much too bright
Item 1: Breakfast at the Manchester Stand. Pressed the flesh with Sir Howard but he’s a busy man and didn’t have time to stop and talk. Lesson learnt there - about choosing one’s moment.
Item 2: An interesting talk by Mike Ingall of Allied London followed by a debate with Stephen Hodder, Ian Simpson, Paul Finch and Carol Patterson of OMA. The challenges of designing in Manchester. Buzzwords: Beta cities, ripple effect and tight budgets
Item 3: Took some fresh air in the sun along La Croisette - the road that runs parallel to the sea. When the weather’s good it’s usually full of delegates escaping the bunker or heading for a beach bar. Often referred to as the ‘croissant’ which my dictionary app describes as ‘crescent-shaped, containing a large quantity of fat and having a flaky consistency’. Hmmm.
Aboard the good ship Architecture Foundation for the launch of New Architects 3, beautifully designed by John Morgan. Great to see our work in it alongside a slice through the best of new British architecture.
Then on to AR Future Projects to pick up a gong for our Chicago VPAC project where Paul Finch was on classic form as MC.
Biblical was one description given to me of the weather. Many people are here for those serendipitous meetings standing outside bars or walking along La Croisette, so it’s a very different MIPIM experience this year. Still, it means that people are spending longer at the various events that have been put on. It also gives a chance to catch up with the team at TOG and chat through various projects in the sort of detail we rarely get the time to do in London.
Meet up with Julian @dmfk architects who generally was trying to get out of MIPIM visibility amongst clients and some unexpected pleasurable encounters (in the professional sense), with a few hugs along the way. We hugged.
A lunch with Hanover Green led to much chat on the market. The general feeling is that the market has cooled off a little but losing that frothiness is no bad thing. In the office sector, yield compression is done and the market has been maintained by rents continuing to increase, but even these are starting to cool. All are in agreement that this softening of the market takes us back to levels a year or so ago, and we were all pretty happy then.
Some macro factors were chatted through (bear in mind these were early topics for discussion and the cerebral stuff didn’t make it much past the main course), with Brexit rearing it’s head. Some bullish views but the sentiment was a preference to stay in, but if we exit, we’ll be OK. One very interesting view was from someone who had met with some Danish folk who were watching our referendum with interest and stating that Denmark would question whether they should stay, in if the UK were to leave. Interesting times.
Woke up unusually early today. Run or cafe and croissant to start the day? No brainer.
Thinking back on the week.
Tuesday was arrivals day. The sun was out and the streets of Cannes were full of women walking their dogs and men walking their luggage to their homes for the week.
Was on the panel talking about the “changing face of London”. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve become outer London biased over the last six years but I think that the biggest change has been the increasing prominence and importance of outer London. Central London now needs outer London. It never really needed it before. Sure, the workers would migrate from their suburban homes stuffed into their suburban trains to contribute to the productivity of Europe’s global city, but we’ve now got what London needs more than ever - land and space to grow.
But probably with the exception of Croydon which was designed as a satellite metropolis with 60’s high rise towers full of government, engineering, insurance and finance companies and over recent years - Stratford, the outer edge was about living. But what now? Should it be about servicing central London and providing the space for it to bleed or places for people to live, work (or touch down) and play?
Outer London centres like Croydon need to have their own identity. It takes the pressure off central London and makes for a more interesting city.
Other than the lack of sun, MIPIM was in full swing yesterday. Drinks, drinks, a helicopter to Monaco and lunch at the Yacht Club designed by Norman Foster. It does feel strange to be carrying on as if we’re not in a holding, waiting, watching pattern until June. The hesitancy is almost palpable, but last night when I walked past Bar Roma the guys were sitting outside (under heat lamps, mind you) with a bottle of wine, making money – so perhaps I’m wrong. A highlight so far has been meeting Heinz Richardson from Jestico + Whiles. We talked sustainability and well-being in offices, and I found out we were born in the same year!
Yesterday it was difficult to focus on anything other than the rain and how cold I was. Lots of chatter about Tom Bloxham’s house and Tom Bloxham’s hoUSe.
An air of anticipation and excitement is felt across the croisette this morning. A glimmer of sunshine is already breaking through the misty clouds. The opportunity to make up for yesterday’s lost hours in the wet clearly sits at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Early start for an action packed power day. Breakfast with Sir Howard to discuss Manchester and the powerhouse, negotiations with a dynamic new Prop Tech startup, a conceptual ideas session with Newham, the famed Allsop lunch, two drinks parties and a dinner. A quiet day ahead then…watch this space.
A fine day at MIPIM despite the meteorological difficulties. Price and Myers fabulous sun terrace party (without the sun as it was soaked out) followed by New Architects 3 party on a yacht with Ellis Woodman and Simon Allford presenting. In retrospect the security on the gang plank was a little heavy handed but then the best partys are always difficult to get in to. Every cloud has a silver lining - arguing in the sheeting precipitation whilst being described to the rather lightweight smoother as a VIP by Phineas Harper was a highlight. Raced along the Croisette to prevent saturation to the Future Projects award presented immaculately by the seasoned Paul Finch who could make a miserable day sound like a lazy booze lounge junket on a sun drenched beach. It’s been wet, it’s been cold but between the sun, the new and the future. The world seems like an optimistic place here in the rain drenched south of France.
MIPIM is a bit wet today, with the rain making sure everyone is packed together inside. The London tent is absolutely full with people, and in a way it really helps the atmosphere as everyone is forced to bump along together. Would be nice to see some sun though!
Started the day watching a fascinating talk about Canary Wharf and the South Quay, with a pretty amazing set of architectural schemes. Then an early drinks do at Cafe Roma with Keppie, followed by the Price and Myers drinks party which is apparently a pillar of the MIPIM circuit! Nice to bump into Tim Lucas and commiserate with him about his house missing out on the RIBA House of the Year.
Interesting conversations so far include the future of PRS in residential development and where to pitch it compared to the US model (ie probably less posh), finding the future development sites in London, and how public consultations can be skewed by a vocal minority (and how to avoid this).
A few more parties to go to now, you need stamina for MIPIM! I have to say that I am super-impressed by all the Cycle to Cannes team who all seem to be going strong after their six day ride….
Location: Manchester stand
Item 1: A brief pre-presentation budget assessment (generally good news for Devo Manc)
Item 2: Dr. John Lamonte presented an impressive video outlining future plans for the areas to the north and south of Piccadilly Station. Bennetts Associates have been involved with master planning these areas for a number of years. Nice for it to get some public exposure (and a name check). Our work at Airport City also got an airing. The Manchester Stand has a great buzz to it. Lots of optimism.
Item 3: Weather miserable so the Faithful + Gould beach party did not bode well. Free sunglasses and beach balls epitomised their optimism - which was justified because despite the rain, it was a good party. Met with a warm welcome and cold fizz.
Item 4: The 1331 bar was the venue for the evening meal. Charlie Scott and Richard Whitehead of Watermans hosted a group of consultants and clients. Great food and great company. Another quick nightcap at the mosh pit that is the Manchester Bar then turned in.
Word is filtering through of the budget back home, although it seems there’s little for the construction industry to shout about, and nothing to address the housing crisis. Come on, George. Sort it out!
Budget 2016: at a glance
Today we are definitely not in Cannes. It’s pouring with rain. Socks are wet! But it’s forcing everyone indoors. I’ve met 100s of people - architects, clients, consultants, some new contacts and some existing. And all whilst standing still. Why go to MIPIM to meet architects? Collaborations of course, business tips, mutual self promotion, to share woes in a sometimes lonely industry. Between events now. Can’t find a loose banana for love nor money.
The beginning of the second day of Mipim has been spent finding ways to escape the rain at the London Stand. Debating the 436 proposed new towers to be added to the London skyline - where will the next tall building cluster be?
Here’s a good Mipim game: buffet or masterplan? Savory spread or new vibrant urban quarter?
Wednesday brings a strange feeling. An air of intense boredom simultaneous with excited anxiousness. Of accumulting business cards. Of low grade persistant headache brought on by inhaling the massive amount of solvents holding the entire MIPIM apparatus together. A feeling of time passing while also out of time. Of conversations that drift into each other without ever concluding. In other words, a very real Ballardian sense of Super Cannes envelopes the site.
What a difference a day makes! After a very beautiful sunny first day yesterday we’ve woken to a pretty stormy Cannes today. Last night we managed canapés and cocktails in the early evening with new friends and a very late but enjoyable dinner (we waited over two hours to get food!). The evening ended in the infamous Manchester bar, where we saw lots of very friendly familiar faces.
Raining in Cannes. Beachside lunches called off and all of a sudden it feels like work! Still waiting to see if anyone has been smart enough to have brought down 500 corporate branded umbrellas - would perhaps be the best guerrilla marketing opportunity of MIPIM if they did…
Location: London Stand
Weather: Rain, wind, cold. More Clacton than Cannes
Item 1: Global Cities debate – Yolande Barnes (Savills) gave an interesting overview of where she thinks cities are heading. She sees a move from capital to digital and with it a shift from cities to neighbourhoods – Shoreditch being the epicentre in London. The main hindrance to this is the cost of real estate. Hence cities like Dublin and Berlin coming up on the rails. General panel agreement, although other cities (Prague / Manchester etc.) also being touted. Ended on the mandatory Brexit question.
Buzzwords: Digital age / Urban dispersal
Item 2: Health and wellbeing debate, hosted by Peter Murray with Sarah Cary (British Land) and Jane Duncan (+ others). Lots of ideas about what makes a healthy workplace (quality of air/access to outdoor space/flexible movement through buildings) but I wonder just how much is being incorporated into modern offices. 2.75m floor to ceilings/4-pipe fan-coil systems are still the norm.
Buzzwords: Sitting is the new smoking
Item 3: A bit more working the net and then rain stops play. Blogging lunch.
Decisions made: Time to invest in an umbrella
It’s pretty quiet on the MIPIM blog this morning. Over a glass of rose or two met my first passionate MIPIM brexiteer last night…why? Democracy deficit in scale and cultural difference, wants more immigration not less, doesn’t think that Europe works for left of centre politics/economics. Is nationalisation of the railways really not possible under EU law? Dinner was had somewhere in the heart of Cannes, took three hours to get two courses…a bottle or two of red wine was drunk in between. Lovely to see Tom Holbrook and Keith Bradley to discuss the latest developments of a competition bid we lost…over a pint or two…and Jo Negrini of Croydon was on form, she’s a fantastic client for us in Croydon. So I bought her a drink. Come to think of it…if other MIPIM bloggers drank as much as I did yesterday…the blog will remain quiet for some hours to come…
It wasn’t supposed to be like this! With its overcast skies, rain lashed streets and alarmingly swaying palm trees, MIPIM this morning resembles a Caribbean nation about to be hit by a hurricane. My sunglasses have stayed firmly in my bag and everyone is hunckered down in the bunker aka the Palais - usually the least desirable venue but good in bad weather. A lot of the talk this year is about Brexit - which no-one seems to have a good word to say about - and the Northern Powerhouse, which is better regarded. There’s also a lot of gossip too and I’ve remembered why Mipim is so useful - you can meet five key contacts in the space of 20 minutes instead of the day it would take you back home. It really is networking nirvana. If only the sun was shining!
So my first night out at MIPIM! It started at the London reception on the terrace by the London tent. Luckily London has by far the best venue at MIPIM, overlooking the beach, and everyone hung around until it started getting cold at about 7pm. Lots of talking, catching up with old friends and meeting new people. Will Poole-Wilson from Perkins + WIll gave me the low-down on MIPIM, he has been going since 2004. Everyone seemed really excited about MIPIM starting properly.
Then off to the MIPIM opening cocktail party which was at the Carlton Hotel. Totally uncool football style crush getting in but after that it was a super-plush ‘free cocktails and mini-sandwiches’ do. Although Del Hossain from Adrem made me spit my drink out laughing when he pointed out that the party seemed exactly like the scene from Eyes Wide Shut and that it might not be a good idea to hang around.
Ended up at the ‘Manchester Bar’ which seems to be an official nickname for a local bar chosen to be the MIPIM epicentre for the design community. Caught up with loads of people and had an excellent pizza so all was well.
MIPIM seems busier today; so far my plan of walking around bumping into people seems to be working but let’s see what the day brings!
MIPIM really starts on the Tuesday. Stuart Lipton gave the keynote opening speech at the London stand saying that London is the only truly international city (sorry New York), nothing is going to happen in the UK until Brexit is sorted, so we all may as well just stay in Cannes for three months sipping rose. I fear he’s right, it’s as if someone has hit the pause button until June.
I appeared on the Manchester stand presentation about the fabulous NOMA development around the Coop and what generation Z want. An X box in every room apparently. PRS residential development is all the rage as funders love it. Arguably market for sale units are in short supply. I also think more content could be integrated in both housing and office schemes; clubs to seamlessly work, live and recreate in. Manchester is a great, happening city, but it’s surprising how few people live in town. Not for long I think.
Then back to the London stand to chair a presentation on Fin tech and Bio tech. It’s notable how these sectors have grown so quickly. Big collaboration with UCL at Here East. I can’t help thinking that our Universities and our industries are not joined up enough.
Then lunch on the beach, happy hour drinks at the Perkins+Will stand and dinner in the hills. It’s a hard life.
Always fun waking up on a Wednesday with an awful hangover…suppose at least that means yesterday went well! Quick recap of the evenings events included a discussion on crowdfunding agricultural development with the founder of Fundrise, dinner with CBRE debating the future of creative offices, followed by very late drinks with Reza Merchant of The Collective and Ross Bailey of Appear talking about the future of the industry and how the world is changing. All very thought provoking!
We’re here! Finally! After many months of semi-frenzied planning, the plane touched down at Nice airport at 10.30 this morning. It’s not exactly bikini weather but it’s certainly nice to be out of the chilly London wind. Already we’ve met the very lovely John Boxall and Leslie Fair of Jackson Coles Highlight of the first day must be welcoming in the two amazing C2C rides: the original Club Peloton route, which consisted of about 100 riders, and the alternative Club Peloton route, with 20 riders. Needless to say they were suitably knackered and I was suitably awed by the 1,400km they’ve covered over the past six days, which certainly puts into the shade the 50-metre dash I completed to get on the plane this morning.
First day of MIPIM and I haven’t gotten out of my jeans yet. That, and I’ve already met a really good source of money that’s investing in the UK, which gives me confidence. The fund has overseas investors, however, and they are looking at England and don’t know where its going at the moment. Likewise, I’ve seen a PE manager and a UK fund manager and they are cautious that either no one is going to buy anything until the 23 June, or that the really smart, confident folk will snap stuff up now because it’s cheaper. Brexit, eh? Anyway, MIPIM seems pretty lively. Proof of that is the traffic was shit coming in!
Location: Arup yacht/Le Pistou/Manchester Bar
Weather: Still bright. Lots of wind
Item 1: Quick post prandial caffeine hit and then onto the Arup yacht. Piped aboard with a glass of champagne and a profiterole. Piped off two hours later after lots of chit and, indeed, chat.
Item 2: Treated to dinner by Nick Nelson and Phil Lines of Buro Happold (thanks!). Having been put in an empty room at the back of the restaurant we had to make our own atmosphere – which we did and it was great fun.
Item 3: Passed the Manchester Bar on the way home after dinner so felt duty-bound to have a nightcap. Bumped in to the lovely ING crowd (thanks for organising us – we’d have been lost without you) and compared notes from the day. I also ran into an old friend, Will Matthews (former Shardinian), who I studied with and hadn’t seen in 15 years. Arranged to meet back in London when we could have a proper catch-up. God bless MIPIM – if only for re-uniting old friends.
Item 4: Wandered home and considered the relevance of the Ides of March. Apart from the murder of Julius Cesar (not an insignificant event – especially for him) it didn’t seem to hold inauspicious surprises for us. The opposite, in fact. A good first day.
Observations made: The Manchester Bar seems to be where it’s at (at least late at night)
Fabulous welcoming party for the cyclists into the bunker after a windy wait. Manchester bar beckons where the great and the good congregate. First proper night in Cannes. Met a friendly possible client earlier today…so first probable job bagged. MIPIM is good for work if you keep your eye in the game. Either way direct or indirect connections is what this three to four days is all about, Frank Lloyd Wright once said ‘Architecture is Life’ and if you want to experience architectural life this is the place.
Arrived at the Arup Yacht party. Looks surprisingly quiet.
Location: London Stand
Item 1: My predictive text keeps changing MIPIM to moping. So if I refer to the ‘moping delegates’ or the ‘moping vibe’ you’ll have to excuse me. For the avoidance of doubt, neither the delegates, nor the vibe could be described as mopeworthy.
Item 2: Attended the ‘The Changing Face of London’ at the London Stand. Lots of optimism exemplified by Kings Cross, Southbank and Stratford. The future? Tottenham, Walthamstow and Croydon. David Partridge from Argent spoke very articulately. He still reminds me of James Mason. Buzzwords: Diversity and mixed-use.
Item 3: Saw a few familiar faces from the NLA and met a few new ones. Finding our feet and the lay of the land.
Time management is not often cited as they key reason to go to MIPIM, but if you want to meet as many people as possible, in a short period of time, this is the place to do it. Since the London First drinks last night, I have spoken to more people than I could fit into a months worth of meetings. And dare I say it, MIPIM is changing. The net is now wider and captures all participants in the ‘built environment’. It’s not all about the money. Estates directors of universities, local authorities with pressure to deliver more of everything, planners and architects were my dinner companions last night.
Before the networking began, I gave the AJ’s Richard Waite a sneak peak of the stands before the official opening. Here is a picture of him. David Bailey can rest easy.
The early start has paid off and team JRA has arrived in Cannes, now discussing the future development of hotels in London while enjoying the view.
So I have arrived at ‘The Bunker’, luckily it turns out the London Stand is not in the main building and is by the waterfront.
Inside ‘The Bunker’, a windowless building, I have to say it is all pretty strange. Every city you can think of is here, each of them with a large scale model showing brightly glowing developments magically slotted into their existing urban fabric. The new buildings are normally perspex (signifying the new) with the existing buildings rendered as timber blocks (signifying the old). Numbers here are always in the 1000s, vast swathes of commercial/residential/retail floor space will be created, huge numbers of jobs and economic growth will follow etc. The faith it requires to make any kind of large scale urban intervention happen is truly breathtaking, and you cannot help wondering as you walk round which of these projects really will happen and which may not.
The highlight so far I have to say was one of the Re-Inventing Paris projects by Sou Fujimoto called ‘A Thousand Trees’, a fascinating greenspace/building hybrid. Some of the new Parisian projects are truly visionary and I think that the process they have used to bring forward site bids is really interesting.
Anyway nearly time for the London reception drinks… thank God the London Stand is out on the fresh air!
To go, or not to go? Project deadlines, client presentations… the allure wins, I’m on my way! Clients, past, present and future will be at MIPIM. Booked meetings, but left room for chance encounters. On the London stand, the roster of government and industry speakers promises new ideas for London, do I detect new policies brewing? And very much looking forward sharing a glass of bon vin blanc, overlooking the Mediterranean.
Location: Palais/Manchester Stand
Weather: Sunny, blue skies. A bit blustery
Item 1: Attended the Northern Powerhouse debate in the Grand Auditorium with Sir Howard Bernstein et al. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle all represented. Very interesting it was, too, with a huge range of topics covered from the Budget to Brexit.Item 2: Having recently opened an office in Manchester we decided to follow Sir Howard to the Manchester Stand where he introduced Ken Shuttleworth who gave a very brief overview of his new Albert Square masterplan. A bit too brief and we were left wanting to know more. It’s difficult to follow some of the talks/presentations at MIPIM as there is so much going on. People are talking and laughing all around and the screens are quite low. Nevertheless, worth seeing them. Hung around the Manchester Stand for a little while longer chatting about that and the Powerhouse debate.
Business card count: Not getting rid of them quickly enough.
Me and the the gang from PTE all set and on route, better late than never…
PTE on route to MIPIM
Impromptu lunch with Jackson Coles/Jack Sparrow/John Boxall. Enjoyable conversation. Good news is that low to middle housing looks ok going forward. But as I think we all know tax changes are going to hit high resi over the next period. Information from a pirate of the industry is always welcome.
Welcome to Cannes…six architects, journalists, architectural establishment figures in a cab from the airport…not including Paul Karukusevic…who actually paid for it…thanks Paul. Intriguing conversation on Women in Architecture awards and Brexit. Four out of six voting for in which seems to fit with the recent polling - the other two abstained. No names mentioned. Vicky Thornton on top form carrying just a rucksack (even with a broken wrist). Rory Olcayto has one hell of a seat to fill at Open City - I’ll be asking him if he too travels light later today. Off to welcome in the cyclists and blag my way in to the Savilles tent for champagne. I did after all sponsor Coffees Coffey for the second year running. I feel that in some small, lazy and narcissistic way that I helped them get here.
Well I got here to Cannes, have managed to find the apartment I am staying at and will be high-tailing down to what everyone calls ‘The Bunker’ in a minute which apparently is the actual MIPIM conference, although Martin from MNG told me on the flight that all the ‘deals’ are done in the restaurants outside. Slightly crazy journey here, bumping into Victoria Thornton from Open City in the airport, as well as Phil and Tamsyn Coffey, all led by Annalie Riches who insisted we stole Paul Karakusevic’s taxi from Nice to Cannes as he was not coming. The driver was pretty flummoxed by all this although eventually relented. All pre-paid too, so I now have quite bad catholic guilt, thanks Paul! I have to say for the future though that this seems like a really good tactic to use at an airport if you have forgotten to book a taxi. Anyway must go now, down to the RIBA stand at ‘The Bunker’ to see what MIPIM is really like!
Just before noon. Gatwick airport. Grey, cloudy with a slight drizzle. Pret a manger. Tucked round the corner behind the Dixons, next to the loo - the annual pilgrimage begins - in style. Let’s take a moment to think about our goals for the next 72 hours. Because despite the requirements to drink heavily, feign interest in We Work’s $16 billion valuation and discuss another UK tech hub having sprouted overnight. There is a plan of action here…
Aims for the week:
- Meet a new architect with an inspiring idea
- Meet a planner seeking to partner with imaginative, game changing developers to deliver innovative creative offices within their borough - no red tape included
- Dare I say find a new deal? - feel as though I should chastise myself for the thought…
- Make a new friend
- Learn at least ten new things
- Make a sizeable contribution to my business card collection
- A 30 minute run at least once before breakfast…pretty ambitious, still confused as to why I brought the running shoes in the first place
- Don’t miss the flight home
If you are able to assist in any or all of the above, please chirp me @jacobloftus
I guess one of the things attending MIPIM is supposed to be about is guaging the market. So MSNBC-like, here’s something for the experts to chew on: Turns out the only artists on my phone for this trip to Cannes are an unlikely trinity of The Associates, Dr Dre and a Samsung branded theme tune. What, folks, might this apparently inconsequential flap of a butterfly’s wings mean for the global property market? Luckily I’ve booked a session later with a respected fortune teller who has set up shop on the Croisette in a makeshift tent next to Knight Frank’s 24hr corpro-bbq pavillion who might be able to help. Also, I spilt scalding tea on my lap while turning a page of a first edition Complexity and Contradiction…
So it begins. Given the typical demographic of a MIPIM delegate, the back of the plane delivering this payload of Brit Propers to the south of France affords an incredible vista of male pattern baldness. Row upon row of haricot-esque pale pates poke up from each seat, each with their heads in the Telegraph or Mail. It’s as if we were a tin of baked beans, 3,700 feet in the air above the Masif Central travelling at 450mph. That is, if baked beans had a taste for right wing papers. Personally, I’ve always imagined the baked bean as a far more tolerant and egalitarian entity that, if it could read would read broadly around subjects. That it was only because the moniker was already taken prevented it being called the broad bean.
CycleToMipim, CannesCannes express, MIPIM Rally, Gatwick airport…if you want to take ages to get to MIPIM, the world’s your oyster. Maybe next year we’ll arrive like this.
In Attendance: David and Gavin
Weather: Bright, clear blue skies. Glorious
Item 1: Quiet night last night (the calm before the storm?) A couple of beers in a local bar and chocolate biscuits back at the flat (courtesy of our hosts). Turned in early.
Item 2: The airbnb apartment is great - small and simple (not unlike myself) and a lovely little outdoor seating area. I should have brought my Cubans (cigars, not heels. Although…)
Item 3: Woke up feeling rubbish - full of cold. Sneezing and sniffling all night. Reckon I picked up the lurgy from the plane - so many people, so little air. Google French translation for Lemsip (pretty sure it’s not citronsiroter) before heading out to see what this MIPIM lark is all about.
Observations: There is no cutlery in the flat. None whatsoever. Can MIPIMEES not be trusted with sharp objects? Had to spread the jam with a credit card (not the company one, of course).
Packed: ‘Iportfolio’, business cards
Definitely unpacked: Bikini
On my way. Three breakfasts, two lunches, two client coffees, two dinners and one launch party in three days all prearranged and diarised. That’s more that six months of networking activity for me. This is the point! Keep it compact. Looking forward to introducing our new technical director (hardened MIPer & cyclist) Kevin Gray and especially offline champagne conversations with my good friend Roz Barr.
The girls have organised the hot tickets for the opening and closing events at MIPIM. Last night Sophie Eastwood’s Holistic team hosted another smash hit “go Dutch dinner” for about a hundred at Plage Royal, and on Thursday night Holly Porters “Chicks with Bricks” woman’s networking group has taken over L’Ecrin - the coolest beach restaurant - for dinner, speeches, an art auction and “Blonde Ambition’s” late night disco. The future is female!
Papers bought, flight boarded…bumped into a sleepy Russell Brown confirming that an early morning flight on the Tuesday is better than a Monday evening in Cannes. I’ll take his word for it…I’ve always felt he’s like a grown up me. As I personally exit Britain this morning it’s got me thinking how mass Brexit may affect architects, our relationship to Europe… how will Brexit affect the people who work at Coffey Architects? Over half of whom are from the continent. I’m going to ask about it on this trip… it seems the perfect environment to debate our/architectures future in Europe. I must add, the Telegraph came free with a bottle of water, Guardian below, it’s good to get a balanced view.
Location: BA flight 0348 London to Nice
In attendance: David Walker and Gavin Pike of Bennetts Associates
Weather: Sunny, clear. Getting dark.
Purpose: Journey to Cannes for our first MIPIM experience
Item 1: Good journey on the Heathrow Express. Discussed our battle plan for the coming week and tried to put the dailies behind us. Looking forward to MIPIM, mostly with excitement but with a touch of trepidation.
Item 2: Had a quick game of spot the MIPIMEE in the airport departure lounge. Didn’t last long - I would say 95 per cent of the passengers were delegates (although no familiar faces). When they called Business Class to board almost the entire lounge stood up. Gav and I didn’t.
Item 3: First networking opportunity in row 32 with a developer from Northern Ireland. Also a MIPIM first-timer. Didn’t win any work but a nice chat. (Must try harder).
Business card count: 1 down, 999 to go.
MIPIM 2016 marks another communications milestone. Printed press releases, the fax machine, email, text, twitter, blogging – I feel like I have done it all. However, the emoji has me stumped. I know that each little image represents some sort of hidden language but I am clueless as to the business protocol involved! Is a kiss a ‘PR Mwah’ or does it have a deeper meaning? Sadly, everyone except me, including captains of industry has mastered the art. I think I shall stick to the smiley face and stay out of trouble.
It’s already started… Wetherspoons at Gatwick. Armies of Jeans, striped shirt and navy blue blazers watching the scotland vs France match. Pints of craft pale ale, raybans stuffed into their blazer pockets… Easyjet 17.40 to Nice, transfer to Cannes. People ask ’are you looking forward to MIPIM?.’ I never want to take for granted the fact that I am going to the south of France this week for work. It’s still a big deal for me and a long way from the suburbs of Sydney. But you have to do it. Good development is all about relationships. MIPIM provides a platform for exposure and good conversations. It’s about being noticed but for local authorities, it’s also about choice - it’s a pool to choose the right architects, the right developers, the right investors. We are at the cusp of something really special in Croydon. A lot more attention that last year. Would we do business with the jean and navy blazers? Yes, if they can help deliver the kind of place we want Croydon to be.
No Carlton Club this year - where is this year's UK 'salon' in Cannes? Discuss. #ajmipim— Richard Waite (@waitey) March 14, 2016
Why go to MIPIM? Sat in the Piercy & Company Monday morning meeting with 50 people giving updates on what seems like 50 different projects, it’s a fair question. Luckily Stuart Piercy has taken the pressure off: ’Just relax, take it all in and talk to people. Then land a tower, a cultural project and something international’. Aiming for a cultural tower in North America by Tuesday and then two days off.
Leaving for MIPIM today. Looking forward to welcoming the @ClubPeloton #CycletoMIPIM into the bunker tomorrow…didn’t take me long to pack…
Neurofen at the ready, I’m off to MIPIM for a week of hard “work” in the bunker and on the beaches.I’ve got a full dance card of meetings, speaking engagements, lunches and dinners - including hosting 20 at my house on Wednesday night. Here’s hoping I don’t get another power cut. Brexit is bound to be the subject of the week. Will I need a visa next year to get into La France?
Will Hurst (AJ managing editor)
I last attended MIPIM in 2007, so it will be interesting to see how it has changed in the intervening years. Back then, in the pre-credit crunch era, the event was famous for excess and I have hazy memories of no-expense-spared parties and press briefings on yachts. That said, it wasn’t all frippery. As a young reporter I was under real pressure to land some big exclusives so I also recall my anxiety as I rushed around trying to work out which of the 16,000 delegates to meet. I’m hoping this year will be a little slower than 2007 but that some of the glamour remains.
It’s been an extraordinary experience to be on the inside of the MIPIM team. Organising an event of this magnitude requires almost military precision from the relatively small full-time team and the hundreds of support staff. ING is just a small part in that process but our job is to help the media find stories and the stories to find the media.
My 14 year old son has never shown any interest in my annual pilgrimage to Cannes but this year is different. I have Rio Ferdinand’s mobile number. Now he is taking notice.
MIPIM 2016 marks 24 years since my first conference. Here’s where I stand today: I’m looking forward to purposeful discussions with people with equity - I’m especially up for talking future spec developments in Central London. I’m nervous to know – from a UK perspective – just how hard a BREXIT is biting on the heels of our industry.
And I’m expecting less frenetic running up and down the Croisette, networking like a man possessed. Fingers are crossed.
Let’s see how it goes…
This year I am attending MIPIM to optimise on networking opportunities. I have a beautiful three year old daughter, so attending events impromptu or planned throughout the year is difficult to accommodate. I have been to MIPIM twice before and I know I can consolidate a year’s worth of exposure in one trip. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be wearing trainers, not Blahniks.
Richard Waite (AJ news editor)
MIPIM is a strange beast. The goings-on - and the reasons why those goings-on have gone on - is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been. What you get out of meeting someone you know from around the corner in Leeds at a conference hall in Cannes is tricky to quantify. Hence, in part, this blog.
But, having seen the 2016 programme and after lining up a procession of meetings, this year is shaping up to be a different animal. Certainly more relevant than some of the hedonistic, cash-waving jamborees of the early Noughties.
The international property fair has a much-needed and apposite overall theme, Housing the World. No bigger issue than this for the UK’s architects. There is a major focus on the Northern Powerhouse - which few architects have yet really got their head around - and the opportunites in its emerging rival, the Midland Engine [new to me too].
No doubt there will be some oddities [table football tournament anyone?] and a planned bongo concert on one of the stands has already been shelved.
But I’m keen to find out how where the work is for the nation’s design talent - in the UK and further afield - and indeed how that might be impacted by a possible BREXIT.
Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about both on these pages over the coming days.
Mipim housing the wolrd