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MIPIM 2018: The AJ blog

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Our crack team of bloggers bring you all the action from Cannes

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Tuesday 20 March

9:50pm Ben Derbyshire

Ever seen the 2005 Disney film March of the Penguins? Every year, thousands of them make an astonishing journey, marching day and night in single file, 70 miles into the Antarctic continent. That’s not the end of it. The males then walk all the way back to fill their gullets with fishmeal before returning again to feed the chicks – exhausting for the penguins, and exhausting to watch.

MIPIM at Cannes is surely such an apparently illogical migration, of sorts. It only happens because so many undertake the journey – and being there are available to meet, either by chance or design. So meetings happen, and even if not, everyone has the opportunity to be made more aware of each other. People go to make themselves available to meet and create a kind of well spring of familiarity from which deals may grow, because they don’t happen there, all that often, anyway.

So I guess it has the same perverse logic of the Antarctic penguins. And it kind of works. I certainly felt that as it applied to the 28 chartered practices who accompanied us on the RIBA stand. We had a constant stream of visitors and there was never a moment when I was not required to engage in meetings or presentations of one sort or another. But surely we can work on the appalling lack of diversity? The penguins might look all the same (and never have I seen so many blue suits in one place), but their gender split is in perfect proportion.

Monday 19 March

4:26pm Donna Macfadyen

Housing was on everyone’s mind. Particularly in a cooling private market, there was lots of discussion on how local and central governments need to work in partnership with private developers to deliver homes. It was good to see a strong presence from the newly renamed Homes England and to hear about how they intend to use their influence to get more people into homes. 

Prop-tech was an exciting topic, providing fresh solutions to age-old problems. As a long-time renter in London, in residencies of varying quality, it was really interesting to listen to Orla Shields of GetRentr talk about how her platform uses data to track and map local authority regulations in real time, helping landlords confirm their compliance and exposing the rogue landlords that ignore the law.

The general vibe among architects was of tough times, recent redundancies and frustration that now there is a flush of work, fees are still not recovering. Lots of anxiety over the potential for Brexit to take the profession back to more recession, just as we are staggering out of the last one. From the wider property/construction crowd, the general feeling was that London, Manchester and Leeds held a strong degree of confidence, with the rest of the UK being demonstrably weaker. Everyone felt pretty cheery about the next 12 months or so.

As a first-timer, I felt MIPIM was a heady, glammed-up experience. I saw many sweating away in the sunshine, wired on too much caffeine, yelling at each other about only having a 15-minute slot for more coffee before dashing off somewhere else, flinging embossed business cards at total strangers across the tables of café Roma. The atmosphere of FOMO was feverish. What a contrast when the sun went away! Very quickly the mood soured and you became so painfully aware of how old-fashioned a lot of the presentation stands look, how the venue is impossible to navigate, how shallow and out of touch a lot of the conversation was. Those same networkers looked less full of potential in bedraggled suits, sloped shoulders and no sunglasses. I have to say I came away from the experience both inspired and deeply disappointed over the quality of discussion on the future of where and how we will live.

4:12pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

My verdict on MIPIM – definitely worth it! You must work hard to get things lined up to structure your experience and reward but it’s the informal interactions that are the best thing to come out of it. That includes the chats with people you know, and the chance meetings with people you don’t, who then become sure acquaintances; people tell you their real opinions, which is invaluable.

Themes and what I learned:

  • #SeeTheElephant – great campaign that PRP has now joined. I had ‘one’ inappropriate comment made to me at a breakfast event which is the first time in all my years of attending.
  • The draft London Plan – agreement from those that ‘get it’ that the ageing population is inadequately acknowledged.
  • Tender prices have plateaued – I thought so but the contractors agreed.
  • Victoria Hills is going to be chief exec of the RTPI after her time at OPDC. I told her that she gave the best talk at the AJ100 breakfast event last year.
  • Architects love to talk to each other. MIPIM is a great chance to talk to everyone.
  • Intergenerational living isn’t properly understood and it is another topic pushing out discussion around the models of housing that actually work. It’s a good idea but not a panacea.
  • I need to work harder at tracking down key people like Jules Pipe… failed on that one! Next year I will make more time to be at the key talks in the London Stand.
  • Don’t spend all your time with colleagues! It allows conversation to flow more easily and gives more of a chance for those informal chats.
  • I was right about energy levels, not maintaining them is a disaster – who else now has a dry cough??

9:05am Bea Young

MIPIM 2018 lived up to my expectations. You very much get out what you put in, and if you pick the events that suit and interest you, it’s even great fun. These were my five take home points as a first-timer:

  1. Plan ahead and go with an agenda, so you are not too dazzled by it all. I had a vague plan of seeing clients in the day and consultants in the evenings – it wasn’t as black and white as that, but gave me a structure to work with, which I found really useful.
  2. Definitely go to some of the keynote sessions. The opportunity to hear big speakers debating relevant issues shouldn’t be wasted. Chosen topics are really interesting and the accessibility of the speakers offers a chance to take part in the discussions. 
  3. Don’t think that you need to go everywhere. I didn’t make it into the main bunker at all, as there was so much going on in all the UK stands.
  4. Don’t book your diary end to end. It’s lovely bumping into people you know and grabbing a coffee, and sometimes those unplanned meetings are the most productive.
  5. Go with others if you can. I travelled with two colleagues (Philip Breese and Christian Bocci) which made the whole event more manageable and having time to reflect and compare notes was useful. As both had been before they also had lots of top tips.

8:33am Tamsie Thomson

This year MIPIM has felt very different for me and the rest of the team representing the London Festival of Architecture. After taking the decision to launch our anti-discrimination campaign #seetheelephant at MIPIM we have perhaps unsurprisingly spent the best part of a week discussing very little else. My first reflection is how overwhelmed we were by the strength of the support from both men and women in our industry. We gave out 1,400 badges – all our tiny budget would allow – and we could easily have doubled that. At least one speaker at every London Stand event I attended was wearing one and you could not go to an event without spotting them. Simply put, it would have been hard for anyone not to have seen the elephant in the room, even if they didn’t before. 

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My second reflection might best be described as ‘what’s next?’ The badge proved a simple and effective way of getting people talking about – and therefore thinking about – an issue that’s all too often overlooked: a reminder of how much more there is to do. So as I head back to London I’m conscious that in barely three months we’re putting on a festival all about ‘identity’. It feels to me that our profession is having something of an identity crisis. I’ve got a feeling our elephant will be making more appearances.

7:16am Ben Cousins

Much as I like a few days on the Cote d’Azure, and understand the importance of the MIPIM week, I’d almost forgotten how restorative not drinking and sleeping well is, and have been in full detox recovery mode back home with the family. Although I’m not entirely sure my teenage daughter knew I was away, and said ‘hi’ to me as if I’d been out to the shops!

Looking back at the week, highs included meeting a developer client in the hills above Cannes, which was so much more relaxed than in the town; obtaining new leads about offsite modular construction and the build to rent sector that we are exploring; LFA’s pink elephant campaign which got a lot of much needed attention (except somehow by the Guardian who apparently didn’t see anyone wearing the badge! Were they even at MIPIM?); and drinking with old Bartlett friend George Clarke at the karaoke on Thursday night.

Lows included the continuous rumours of journos and paps looking for scoops on bad behaviour; and the rain on Thursday which put a bit of a dampener on proceedings. 

Brexit wasn’t mentioned by many, expect a German delegate who said the nation had committed mass hara-kiri, which was one of the more direct ways of describing it.  

I have my knee op next month, so looking forward to training for the Cycle to MIPIM 2019…

It’s been a pleasure blogging. Until next year. Over and out.

12:03am John McElgunn

A great week, I am delighted I went and after my first few years I am beginning to feel like a regular. My principal reason for attending MIPIM is to reinforce existing connections and hopefully make some new ones. From that point of view I consider this week a wonderful success. Having previously attended alone it was great to have a colleague along. Dylan Davies, our new business manager, also attended so that we could cover more ground. 

Apart from the housing crisis, the planning process, the green belt and Brexit, one of the hot topics for discussion this week was the poor gender balance in the industry as a whole and the fallout from the Presidents Club scandal. I saw great support for initiatives like the ‘elephant campaign’ by the London Festival of Architecture. This aims to put an end to inappropriate or discriminatory attitudes and behaviour in the industry. I saw lots of male delegates wearing the pink elephant badges, despite what the Guardian article claimed on Friday, and in fact I was asked for my badge several times as demand was high. 

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I really enjoyed taking part in a panel discussion in one of the Palais des Festivals auditoriums. The discussion about ‘the city as a place for people’ was based on an excellent piece of research commissioned by the City of London Corporation and the City Property Association. The other panel members were fantastic and we look forward to seeing what synergies our companies can have when we get together back in London. 

After a hectic four days what better way to wind down than to head up into the hills above Nice for the Urban Splash 25th anniversary party? Tom and Jo Bloxham are such great hosts and their house the Maison Bulle is the perfect location for a party. With an amazing location and such a great guest list it was hard to tear myself away when it was time for my flight home. 

You may think me a lightweight but I have booked Monday off for some much-needed rest and recuperation. Tuesday will be time enough to start on all the follow-ups.

Sunday 18 March

10:18pm Ada Yvars Bravo

Now that my first MIPIM is out of the way, I feel a little more complete as an architect.

It was an interesting few days but what struck me most is the power architects have in unlocking sites while generating money mostly for other people. That’s a great pity because as a profession we’re selling ourselves short.

Aside from deals, it’s clear that global architecture is a ‘product’ that lends itself to a monoculture and ubiquitous urbanism that pervades cities around the world. This means cities are nearly always populated by the same type of buildings irrespective of site and context. It’s odd also that new UK architecture at MIPIM tends to look the same and this sums up our attempt to placemake when all places look the same.

I had a good chat with Paul Finch about ways to alleviate the housing crisis by compelling local authorities to build. While we’re not on the same side of the Brexit debate, it’s clear also that EU procurement rules hobble many capable designers. And while developers and project managers worry about design risk, the question we should ask is what is the risk to the developer of a poor design?

The Guardian also covered MIPIM sleaze which is alive and well.

And despite the rhetoric, the other thing about MIPIM is the absence of diversity. In three days, I saw three ‘people of colour’ attending the event. The Africa Forum and the London Diversity debate was a bit of a farce and I hope the AJ will support a diversity campaign not just with pink elephants, but with elephants of all shapes and colour.

9:36pm Phil Coffey

I started the week with copious amounts of chocolate for energy on the ride. Apparently, a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.

…but not necessarily in that order. 

WORK Our team has got a lot done. It has been especially rewarding to see us grow into MIPIM after our first escapade together here last year. Architecture is part of the wider construction industry… and the more we understand that, the better our team will work with each other, with consultants, other architects, developers and funders. As a team we arrived together but then broke into individuals to cover all bases of this festival, so thanks to our four-fingered Kit Kat team… Michael, Steve, Margaret, Eugenia and all those at home who helped along the way.

The team worked our London stand hard and I can say from the messages on our WhatsApp group that we have over 20 leads to follow up, some tentative…some pretty solid. A family-sized Quality Street collection of toffee pennies and the lesser orange creams. I would consider that a success… and hopefully a temptation for other architects to join us in the London tent next year. Architecture up front and caramel centre.

Wider work wise… talking to several colleagues it seems that the king-sized offering this year is that the new London Plan may not be as good for development as we may have first believed. As someone put it, ‘This is supposed to be a strategic plan, not a design guide’. We didn’t get what we were expecting. It is yet to be seen if the GLA has difficulty with legal challenges when we have finally got the foil off. A veritable Daim Bar that starts off well but then you just can’t get the stuff out of your teeth. 

PLAY OK… so there’s been some play, but the truth is that play is still work in MIPIM. Breakfast, lunch and dinner every day where we have hosted and been hosted with previous and possible clients. We have dined, drunk, danced and almost duetted with our team and newfound friends. The week ended with a delicious mint Aero. A refreshing visit to the incredible Bubble House. A place that defines a ‘work hard, play hard’ spirit owned by Tom and Jo Bloxham who celebrate 25 years of the Urban Splash launch in 1993… as the Ferrero advert of the same year should have equitably said: ’Monsieur/Madame, with these Rocher you are really spoiling us’.

REST My hotel fridge door is now quite literally empty. The Daim Bar has gone, the Mars bar has vanished, the Aero has floated, I can’t find any Quality Street…so I’m left with the final piece of my favourite Swiss chocolate. Apparently there is a bear in the mountain… in the logo. A hidden meaning about its origins. It’s an apt way to sign off. There’s no hidden meaning to MIPIM, it’s just more of the same, a concentrated place to work and play… and now, once I’ve finished this singular triangle of Toblerone… it will finally be time to rest.

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8:44pm Tamsyn Curley

We met some very interesting new clients this last week, a good mix of architects, developers, project managers, design managers, engineers and interior designers. It’s very hard to foresee the next 12 months in our job; it’s more likely we’ll be able to see three to four months ahead. In recruitment the market can fluctuate very quickly and severe weather, or a far from favourable Brexit headline, can have a very brief but major effect on hiring confidence. Last December was strangely quiet, in comparison to recent years, with very few long-term or strategic hires, but a great deal of temporary/short-term positions. January, February and March have been unbelievably busy, with a healthy balance of both. The majority of our clients have declared an abundance of new work since January, but some are also finding themselves facing unexpected and often undeserved setbacks, by a less than positive start to the year. Despite their best efforts to develop new business, to retain existing clients and to produce consistently excellent work, shockingly unreasonable planning decisions have increasingly stunted expansion and projects’ programme flow. Things tend to improve and pick up very quickly, but this is hugely frustrating nonetheless.  

Our team back in London say that even though lots of decision-makers were away at MIPIM last week, they were still very busy indeed. Combined with our very positive new business development efforts before and during MIPIM, and after speaking to lots of our longstanding clients before we left for Cannes, our clients’ spread of work in the UK and abroad, and also their projects and sector spread, will hopefully in turn stand us all in good stead together, as we move into spring.

8:03pm Jo Wright

From a snowy Sunday in Somerset, the memories of sunshine (for at least some of the time) in Cannes are fading fast. On Thursday evening Nice airport was rammed with weary looking people desperately trying to get their email back under control and avoiding eye contact for fear of still more networking! It was a frantic few days of catching up with clients, collaborators, colleagues and old friends, and making some valuable new connections. My reflections on this year’s foray to Cannes are:

  • The UK regions are resurgent – London and Manchester used to feel like the only shows in town, but there are others vying for airtime and the opportunity to share their ambitions which bodes well for a rebalancing of the UK economy.
  • The value of offline time with clients and stakeholders is immense – I have come away with a much better understanding of the agendas for several key projects/opportunities.
  • MIPIM has extended its global reach still further – there were huge tracts of the bunker dedicated to regions I don’t recall seeing in such strength before.
  • It’s unwise to look too closely at the architecture on show – too many identikit solutions agnostic to context and culture.
  • Steve Edge and Matt White had clearly been to the same tailor – their fabulous floral attire raised a smile and stood out a mile from the blue suit/white shirt brigade.

While we are a long way from resolving the diversity challenge, in the year of Time’sUp and MeToo, and the LFA’s Elephant campaign, it does feel like we are finally making progress – now we need to keep the issue at the forefront of the industry agenda all the way through to next year’s MIPIM.

2:03pm Andrew McMullan

What is crucial to note from my first time at MIPIM is that, unlike World Expos that are meant to showcase countries, MIPIM features cities and companies – the essential pairing for a sustainable world. Istanbul, Hamburg and London all had separate and larger pavilions than those of their home nations.

The world’s great cities are inherently dynamic and diverse. They are also naturally open to the world. So how should they respond if their countries seek to close themselves against outsiders, such as is the case with Brexit?

It was good to see companies at this year’s MIPIM looking at how better data and technology can allow architects and planners to work smarter and more precisely to drive urban efficiencies, sustainability and improved health, liveability and lifestyle – crucial in attracting and retaining a globally mobile workforce. And just in time, because today more of us live in cities than not.

It is clear from MIPIM that cities have taken on a character and reputation increasingly recognised around the world – we often think of cities as much as or more than we think of the countries to which they belong. That is certainly what these cities want, for what they all have in common is a growing sense of power in their dealings with the wider world.

Our future will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by the city. In a world that increasingly appears introspective, cities – not countries – are the places of governance on which our future world will be built. We must turn cities into models of efficiency and successful inclusion.

11:33am Carol MacBain

On Tuesday and Thursday, the focus was on feet, with Tuesday’s mission being to ‘find our feet’ as MIPIM first timers and Thursday being a day of 10,000+ soggy steps.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the pavement cafes and bars were teeming with uniforms – blue suits and sunglasses. Consequently the bunker and surrounding stands were somewhat easier to negotiate. An interview on Tuesday morning led to some exposure in an article in MIPIM News.

A Wednesday ‘Hospitals of the Future’ panel discussion led to introductions to investors and potential clients and collaborators, delivering healthcare, residential and other public sector facilities through public-private partnership. Shared facility developments – happening in the UK, but not perhaps prevalent in mainland Europe?

‘Invest Glasgow’ launched ambitious new innovation districts, with support from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, alongside other mixed-use developments at Custom House Quay and Clyde Gateway.

A Scottish Investment Briefing on Thursday saw positivity and willingness from the investors on the panel to continue to invest in Scotland. There was an acknowledgement that the uncertainties that Brexit and IndyRef2 represent were challenges. Heartening to hear that investors’ interests lay not just in returns, but an understanding that good design and placemaking can add value. With the ‘Scotland Investment Opportunities’ portfolio launch and some prominent sites coming to market in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, there are ideas for follow ups. Housing is also seen as a growth area, with ‘university cities’ looking to find ways to house students and retain the highly skilled workforce that their universities and colleges turn out.

Quiet chats with existing clients away from the stresses and strains of day-to-day business were both welcome and beneficial.

And how were Scotland’s cities represented at MIPIM 2018? There was certainly a presence, but that’s maybe because we sought them out. The Scottish Cities Alliance – a collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities along with the Scottish government – had no stand, choosing instead to run a series of events outside. Invest Glasgow had a stand in the Palais; Invest Edinburgh was present on the ground (somewhere).

The contrast between this and the Manchester, Liverpool and Midlands offerings (let alone London) was glaring, and greater cohesion next year might benefit all parties, including professionals based in Scotland.

Saturday 17 March

2:31pm Hazel Rounding

So, as I travel north from London, I finally find a bit of time to myself to reflect on the last week, a rare moment of solitude after hours of networking. It has been a different experience to other years; largely because not every day has been about chilled drinks in the sun, there has been much more said about people and society, and the real estate element has not been viewed in isolation of community and the people who make a great place. There has also been a more verbal awareness of gender equality and greater acceptance that Brexit is now most likely to become inevitable…  

In the context of this, I rounded up my delegate area attendance at the Manchester + London Wrap-up late Thursday in the London pavilion, where Greg Clark (global advisor on cities) hosted Richard Lease (leader, Manchester City Council), Liz Peace (chair, Old Oak + Park Royal) and Darren Rodwell (leader, Barking + Dagenham) in a ‘show of camaraderie’ (rather than ‘panel debate’); rare at an event where cities seemingly compete stand by stand. The message was very much of ‘one UK’, not just in an hour of need due to storm damage impact to the neighbouring Manchester pavilion, but due to the very evident belief that a collective UK will keep us open for business.

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With advancements in both communications and infrastructure, and removal from mainland Europe, the message was very much an acknowledgement that the UK is getting smaller and so therefore we must start to stand together, encourage city leaders to grow their particular communities through devolution, yet collaborate with other cities and hold a voice in Brexit negotiations.

Liz summed it up beautifully for me in challenging false divisions and noting that she is a resident of the UK (rather than a particular city) who loves the country and travelling around it. I thought of this today as I boarded a North-West coast train connecting me between London and Liverpool in two hours (as I do at least weekly without any hesitation to ensure our business covers the best opportunities), which had the supergraphics ’Britain is Great’ across its carriage. 

This has been a thought-provoking week and it crescendoed last night with a wonderful party hosted by Urban Splash in the hills above Nice to celebrate their 25 years of regeneration and drive to change perceptions. The guests were a mix of the best I enjoy working with, geographically located north and south but with the common drive to challenge the norm and improve the UK offer within the built environment.

My final reflection is the moment we arrived at a snowy Gatwick Airport early this morning to a BA landing announcement: ’The police are awaiting our disembarkment and can all female passengers have their passports ready for inspection’. This brought cries of ’how discriminatory’ from a few men but somehow the specific reference to one sex felt quite normal in a week where gender has been a hot topic of conversation across the press. I quietly wondered if they were surveying the return rate of women to London from the Med after a week of MIPIM networking to establish how many had decided to stay to enjoy a better gender balance in the bars and cafes, while plotting how we all keep evolving over this next 12 months.

I’ll see you in 2019, Cannes…

Friday 16 March

6:34pm Ada Yvars Bravo

My last post!!!

Gosh, just when I was letting go of my inhibitions and could strike up conversation with someone other than an architect, Mi Pin is over. So what did I learn?

  1. Bring an umbrella and sneakers.
  2. Don’t bring lots of brochures to give away – you just have to carry them back home.
  3. Focus on what you want and don’t try your luck in far away places of which you know little.
  4. Like any all-inclusive holiday, food and drink is free. German pretzels are amazing, West Midlands canapes are a work of art and Paris is good if you like smoked salmon.
  5. Diversity is hot air and Elephants of Colour don’t exist, be they pink or any other colour.
  6. If you talk to him long enough, Paul Finch has the solutions to solve the housing crisis.
  7. Next year we will try to be invited to the Bubble House party.
  8. The team on the RIBA stand were a dream and this year they made the difference. The stand too had pics of projects rather than people, so a big hurrah to the improved graphics.

2:40pm Phil Coffey

‘So Sally can wait, she knows it’s too late as she’s walking on by, her soul slides away but don’t look back in anger I heard you say.’  

For me, Thursday night finished with a rendition of a favourite Oasis tune at karaoke with Matt Fairman of Assembly Studios. I have no idea who Sally is? Why her soul is sliding? But is there anything to be angry about? 

I could be angry at the Marriot hotel for moving Kai Uwe and I from table to table this morning … you can’t go outside, you can go outside, move your chair, don’t move that chair, is this your jacket? dropping cutlery, spilling coffee … on me, asking me to pay before I’ve finished my small stale pain au Raisin …  Fawlté Tours. 

Kai says he could have been angry about not bringing his size 12 wellies. BIG feet. 

I could be angry that I sat on an outside chair, on an ill-constructed deck at dinner, so that whenever someone walked past, I rocked back and forth making me feel nauseous. Or maybe it was the wine. 

I could be angry that my card has been blocked by HSBC fraud prevention. Again.  

I could be angry that George Clarke wouldn’t do a duet with me. Coffey and Clarke, doing Elton John and Kiki Dee. Missed opportunity.

I could be angry that there aren’t more architects in the London Stand. Wouldn’t that be good? 

Lisa Ashurst of Ashurst Communications said she could be angry for having to leave early (at 3.30am) in order to prepare for a party in the hills. 

I could be angry that Mark Middleton said he can’t normally get a word in sideways with me.  

I could be angry at John McElgunn, laughing at me with 12 other people as I walked out of the London Tent. Still no idea what the joke was. But I’m definitely not angry … in fact I joined in laughing. I mention it because John apologised profusely afterwards … such is the class of the man. 

I could be angry that Jo Cowan said some people think that I am arrogant … but she likes arrogant so it’s ok.  

I could be angry that I left my loaned Marriot umbrella at the karaoke, a cheap, poorly constructed piece that will no doubt now cost me €50 plus taxes.  

I could be angry that we ran out of Coffey Architects … Light, Culture, Scale books on our stand. 

I could be angry for not getting to see all the stands and talks I wanted to get to. 

I could be angry that it’s all over, bar the shouting. Which is pretty much what everyone was doing last night, when they actually thought they were singing. 

I could be angry that the sun’s gone in again. 

I could be angry with these first world problems … 

… but I don’t tend to do anger, it’s much better to take it in your stride, walk on by and keep your soul smiling, no matter what they did … or said.

1:34pm John McElgunn

The last couple of days have been a complete whirlwind. Wednesday was by far the busiest days for me with a packed agenda. An early start and a late finish and that was just the formal meeting and a few presentations.  

Wednesday was a day defined by numbers: 10 – number of booked meetings for the day (so much for serendipity and going with the flow); 9 – the score for my hangover (out of 10); 8 – time of my first meeting (not a good idea after a late finish at La Crillion the night before); 5 – the number of minutes I had to draw my breath; 4 – the number of good leads and follow ups already agreed for when we rotate back to London Land; 3 – number of presentations; 2 – number of yacht parties attended; 1 – very tired delegate; 15,000 – the number of steps walked. 

Thursday, the rain has hit hard and is trying to kill the mood. The umbrella sellers are out in force ‘making hay as the sun shines’ so to speak.  

My day started with a panel discussion about ‘the city as a place for people’ an excellent piece of research commissioned by the City of London Corporation and the City Property Association (see picture).

Mcelgunn city

A really good panel with some fantastic speakers including Laura from the corporation who summarised the entire report so brilliantly. We had a great discussion, which I really enjoyed, with Catherine McGuinness, Colin Stanbridge of the LCCI, David Ainsworth from Core, Dara Huang of Design Haus Liberty and Rajdeep Gahir of CoCreations.  

The discussion was followed by lunch with Turkish Ceramics and ING media and then back to the London stand for a Coffey Martini and a more relaxed afternoon. Phil Coffey gets top comedy prize for trying to kill himself walking into a door. I graciously did not laugh out loud or disgrace him.  

Friday, and the Palaise is a bit of a morgue, the ubiquitous navy blue suits have almost entirely disappeared and the restaurants, Café Roma and La Crillon are all back to normal. I am off up into the hill to the Urban Splash 25th Anniversary Party at Tom Bloxom’s beautiful house. Can’t wait to see the house again; the sun is out now and it should be a wonderful way to wind down from the week. 

1:05pm Donna Macfadyen

Friday morning and there is not a huge amount happening. It finally gave me a chance to get a proper look at all the exhibited material at the London Pavilion. I had a good chat with the RIBA representative on their stand about what they are doing to support their members. They can help smaller companies with the MIPIM registration, and display images from selected chartered practices on their wall. The Pitman Tozer work was my favourite by a long way. 

I have been surprised at the number of people I have met who did not have passes to the arena itself. Lots are choosing to save money and ‘café surf’ only, and certainly there are plenty of venues outside the arena to fill your time with if you have enough invites. But I’ve also witnessed the subtle power struggle when someone is asked to meet at the London Pavilion and they blush and explain they are not able to. As an architect, I found there were a more useful set of people inside the arena than out. 

I’m on the way to the airport now and heading straight to the Cities Catapult hackathon. It will be interesting to compare the juggernaut of MIPIM with a more start-up-style enterprise, and see which venue stimulates more energetic debate on the urban environment. Thanks for reading and see you all next year! If anyone wants to ask me about MIPIM or about the cycle experience feel free to get in touch, find me on LinkedIn.

12:54pm Carol MacBain

Well it’s over for me. All packed up and ready to go, not home right away, heading to Portugal for a much-needed rest.  

Had a great day yesterday despite the rain. Property EU and Scottish Cities Alliance Investment Briefing first thing. Unfortunately the numbers attending were depleted as a result of the morning downpour, but much positivity none-the-less, with a very clear message from @ScotEnt and @clydegateway that Scotland is open for business and the investors in the room suggesting that the retail and commercial sectors are where they’ll be looking. Thanks to @scottish_cities_alliance and #propertyeu. 

Next up, a couple of hours in the bunker drying off. Meeting current collaborators K2 Architects at the Liverpool stand. Excellent coffee chaps! On to a chat with a potential Spanish collaborator, where we found much in common. Quick pit stop at @InvestGlasgow stand to send some emails, followed by a visit to @DepartmentofInternational Trade tent for the launch of the Scottish Investment Portfolio. 

Then time to return to the streets: Sir Robert McAlpine party at  La Casa di Nonna  just off the now well-trodden Rue Antibes, where I met my new fly-fishing buddy, ‘prophet and wanderer’ Steve Edge.@steveedgedesign – you win the prize for the best business card this week! Looking forward to dinner at the Fly Fishing Club darling! Thanks also to @SRM for splendid hospitality. 

A catch-up with a client next, where we took shelter under an awning and had a blether about current projects and future prospects. Finally, Atelier Ten drinks upstairs at Ma Nolan’s. Great turnout – Bill Ritchie and Steven Osborne - many thanks!  With energy levels dropping, it was time to seek sustenance in the form of a pizza before taking (a first) taxi back to Pointe Croisette to take off sodden shoes and put on a warm jumper! 

12:34pm Donna Macfadyen

Thursday afternoon and early evening were spent on a very nice yacht with a cosy group of six from different parts of the property and construction industry. Conversation ranged from general industry chat and plans for the year ahead, to aspirations, dreams and recounting the moments we fell in love with our respective partners.

I really enjoyed the chance to relax and spend quality time with a small group, it seems by Thursday evening everyone has relaxed and their diaries are more flexible. Later we carried on to the no-longer-the-Manchester-bar, and afterwards to the much-lauded karaoke. I think everyone in that room bonded over screaming as one a massive key change in a Bon Jovi power ballad … 

Donna macfadyen5

11:54am Tamsyn Curley

I had serious FOMO at 4am last night, after wiping out at 8pm. I opted for an early night for once, in excited preparation for Tom and Jo Bloxham’s post-MIPIM barbecue at their beautiful home, Maison Bulle, today. I missed Matt Fairman’s legendary ‘Entrecote’ karaoke night historically known as Rock the Cash Bar (sorry Matt). Feeling pretty refreshed. The sun is out. Looking forward to seeing everyone, to send off MIPIM 2018 in true Bloxham style.

11:51am Neil Deely

I don’t suppose I was the only one who had to pop to the shops for some dry socks yesterday, but sometimes adverse weather can bring the best out in people at events like this. It’s funny how the street sellers in Cannes will try to sell you an umbrella, even though you are already holding one over your head! They are nothing if not tenacious. 

I attended Croydon’s Brunch on the Beach and chatted to Heather Cheesbrough about how well their Quality Review Panel was working under the intelligent management of Vincent Lacovara and Ruth Coulson in the Placemaking team. It takes more than a bit of inclement weather to knock Jo Negrini off her stride and she spoke passionately about how Croydon’s USP is their (can-do) attitude. It was fascinating to hear from her that they had a 75 per cent response rate from a recent council staff survey and that 87 per cent of staff working there were very satisfied. Other London boroughs would do well to take note of this extraordinary success story. Happy councils make happy places - and get there faster! 

The Midlands stand was celebrating Coventry’s City of Culture 2021 success in style yesterday evening, with a troupe of youth dancers from the city who blew us all away with their routine. Coventry is really going places and we are helping it and the region on its way with major schemes in both Coventry and Leamington Spa. The recently honoured Ian Harrabin of Complex Development Projects, seems to be the man behind so many positive things happening there and he was leading the groovers in the Midlands tent. It was great to hear him and other speakers all brimming with pride and confidence in the future of the region.

The evening was the most enjoyable and latest so far this week in the company of some of my favourite people: Robert Pert of Savills regeneration, and my new friends Katherine Raynsford of JLL and Max Farrell. Although, I still have Urban Splash’s 25th-anniversary party at Tom Bloxham’s house to look forward to this evening before heading home. Just hope I have left enough in the tank! 

Thanks for having me MIPIM and The AJ.

Oh, and if anyone knows where Ken Shuttleworth buys his raincoats (he was sporting a very nice number in mid grey) could you let me know? I didn’t dare ask him and now I have raincoat envy. MIPIM does funny things to you.  

10:05am Andrew McMullan

I braved the deluge and dashed to the ULI breakfast on the DLA Piper’s yacht yesterday. The rain was of truly biblical proportions.  ‘Natural disaster’ is usually an acceptable excuse for rescheduling something. Not at MIPIM. 

I had an engaging discussion with a developer who is working in Istanbul. Last year saw great change for Turkey’s political system and the wider economy.  Istanbul remains a cauldron of social change, introducing lifestyles, aspirations and preferences that are turning the city into a modern society as well as a modern economy. Given the pace at which it is taking place, this process is provoking debate and tension. The challenge for Turkey’s politicians will be to ensure such debate remains open and that the views of all can be heard.  

Swaggered across to the Manchester stand after breakfast to listen to a panel discussion on ‘Future Homes: People’.  Tom Bloxham talked about his factory-built hoUSe and his frustration with the mediocrity of new-build homes with their typically low ceilings, small windows and tiny rooms. This is a good example of a developer creating exciting new ways to build well-designed homes in space-poor, inner-city areas. The building industry can seem medieval compared to other manufacturing sectors, still insisting on summoning structures on site from a sea of clay and mud.  You wouldn’t buy a car that was built in a field, so why buy a house that’s been built that way? 

Ducked into the Palais to meet with the RICS CEO Sean Tompkins. We spoke at length about the urgent need to seriously expand where, how and who can innovate housebuilding to build high-quality homes faster than we are currently delivering. Thank you for the guest invitation to ‘The World Built Environment Forum’ in London next month. 

Coffee in the London tent with Philip Gullett of Canary Wharf Group to discuss ongoing estate development and how rising generations have different requirements and expectations of the workplace.  For years, many have predicted the death of the office – mobile technology allows us to work anywhere, so why do we need an office at all? Yet as the world becomes increasingly more complex, the places we work have never been more relevant. Work is a social activity and people still need places to come together to unlock the creativity and innovation needed to solve tough problems.  

Followed up with an introduction to Skanska’s Development Director and then onto a non-stop train of elevator pitches at the London tent, before heading to Caffe Roma for drinks with some familiar faces. 

There are lots of follow-up meetings to arrange from the week – but you will find me booking an appointment with my lovely wife on my flight back to London today.

10:01am Ben Cousins

I really struggled to surface yesterday morning, not helped by the dull day and rain, but I suspect more due to the excesses of the night before.  

The atmosphere really changes in Cannes when it rains – and boy did it rain! The relaxed Med feel replaced with everyone slipping and darting between awnings and doorways, and the ever-resourceful street sellers swapping fake bags and sunglasses for €20 umbrellas which were being sold by the hundred.  

The frenetic rain soaked Cannes was matched equally when the rain cleared by the contrast of my late afternoon sundowner with an old developer client in his villa above Cannes which produced the most spectacular sunset of the week.

Ben cousins sunset

The evening included a more relaxed catch-up with friends, colleagues and collaborators, and I was reminded about the serendipitous moments that can occur which makes MIPIM so special and an important part of the networking calendar.  

The night rounded off with the famous karaoke and 2.5 hours sleep before (just) catching the 6.48am train to Marseille, where I write this blog thinking about the contacts and leads I’ve made and follow strategies once back in London.    

9:33am Ben Derbyshire

After early intimations of spring, today came the rain – 10cm in an unending downpour that started over night and relented just as we retired to freshen up for dinner, thankful not to be traipsing all day between venues. A headache-inducing combination of rain hammering on tents, hubbub of damp human huddle and undiminished noise transmission through flimsy partitions left me crying off my evening engagement, with sincere apologies to the ever gracious, not to say eponymous, Dominic Grace. 

A packed morning began with meeting Peter Murray, Lisa Taylor of Future London, the GLA and the RIBA Competitions team to consider how best we may realise our ambition for a Housing Expo. It’s early days but one more push may well see us winning the political blessing we need for this global showcase of innovation in high-quality affordable homes that could help deliver on our commitment to UN Sustainable development goal #11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It feels like the right time for this, so let’s hope for success. 

After I chaired yesterday’s panel at the London Stand on Kingston Futures, supported by newly appointed RIBA honorary fellow (the youngest ever?) Tamsie Thompson, we talked today about their desire to reinforce Kingston’s brand as a creative powerhouse in a heritage context rather than a leafy outer suburb. Having appointed Grafton Architects following an RIBA competition, they are clearly well on the way. But we suggested they might like to be an early adopter for participation in the Housing Expo just for good measure. 

Catherine McGuinness of the City of London sits on the Professional Services Business Council who have the ear of Government on the sector’s needs for Brexit outcomes. This formidable advocate for the service sector pointed out that once the job of getting Government up to speed on the main themes of Transition, Trade and Talent (the alliteration will surely help) we then have the other 27 states to convince of the merits of our case. I suggested we might get their Lordships Rogers and Foster to write to the Architects Council of Europe seeking their support for a truly global profession. It’s on the to-do list. 

Christer Larsson of Malmo City Planning Office told us that he has just finished writing the Swedish government’s architecture policy, which its parliament will presently enact into law. What is it about the Nordic Countries that engenders such civilised behaviour? But hold it! Don’t we also rather enjoy that pragmatic, not to say unpredictable Anglo-Saxon quality that leaves space for the serendipitous? Be careful what you wish for, Ben, I thought.

Over lunch, I was interested to meet a member of the Asset Efficiency and One Public Estate Government Property Unit. (an acronym to confound even Alan Vallance, our CEO at RIBA, who’s encyclopaedic grasp is awesome). Anyway, the AEaOPEGPU sits in the treasury to redefine the meaning of ‘best value’ in Government land disposals and insists that departments land sales must result in quality, policy-compliant outcomes. There is hope for us yet! 

Then back through the rain to the Invest Liverpool stand – and an astonishingly lively spot it was too – albeit deep in the heart of what they call the ‘bunker’ around here. In the beautifully designed space I sat on bar stools with ‘@MetroMayorSteve’ Rotheram to talk about how best to create a forward-looking and competitive brand for this already great city. The RIBA has invested in our biggest and most glamorous ‘Urban Room’ on the waterfront. We’d love for RIBA North to become a centre for a creative process involving civic leaders, local commerce and the professions. I’m proposing a colloquium for the nation’s Urban Room promoters to share best practice there.

Headache in the ascendant, I wash up in the foyer of the Hotel Gray D’Albion where John Nordon, late of Pegasus Life, is holding court with Gus Zogolovitch. The two of them grill me for an hour on the Housing Expo as if I where an aspiring contestant on The Apprentice. Just as I am sure they are going to aim at me with the dread words, ‘You’re Fired’ the mood turns and I may even have walked away with a couple of prospective investors.

That’s it. I’m through……

9:31am Steve Sanham

Dry MIPIM disintegrated on a couple of fronts yesterday … for a start it was chucking it down and therefore like most Brits in times of challenge I ended up in the pub.

Still good conversations to be had with contractors, architects and engineers, new and old.

But I decided to bite the bullet and change my flight, so headed home last night. I’ve been missing my son Leo like crazy, and an extra day with him is worth the couple of hundred quid to change a flight.

I shared a taxi to the airport with my good friend Seb Wood from Whitby Wood Engineers. A sounder guy you will not find.

It’s been a slightly odd, but mostly very enjoyable MIPIM. Big conversations about diversity in property going on at almost every turn, some a little inane, others very worthwhile.

Back to work today focusing on the near completion of our Boiler House scheme at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes – it’s looking so great, very exciting to see the scaffolding come down. Reminds me why we do all of this!

So that’s MIPIM for me - until next year then.

7:18am Ada Yvars Bravo

I took advantage of the rain and spent long hours in the bunker. I went to see the Africa Forum and just like the diversity event in the London Pavilion (more of that later), the Africa Forum was populated by mainly white men who had great ideas about what to do in Africa. 

When asked why there were so few black architects, one of the panel members said they recently took two interns to their Europe office from Africa. 

I have to say that the whole diversity issue is much more than women’s rights following Weinstein. Less than 0.9 per cent of UK architects are Black and 2.5 per cent are Asian. The AJ along with the rest of the media is doing zero about that, yet we have pink elephants everywhere. While everyone is rightly complaining about the gender pay gap, BME architects are at the bottom of the pile. I wonder what the reaction would be if we had a British Architecture Forum panel with African architects representing the UK? And by the way, just how many BME practices win projects in Britain. Yes give me a pink elephant but there is another elephant in the room.

Pink and black elephant

Thursday 15 March 

9:18pm Tamsyn Curley

Thursday was indeed a washout! Very enjoyable still. I was invited by the partners of Penoyre & Prasad, Mark Rowe, Ian Goodfellow & Suzi Winstanley, to their very relaxedlunch, in the old town. Excellent food and a warm Cannes welcome. 

It was great to see the AJ’s Richard Waite in attendance. Full of the joys of MIPIM and obviously brimming with the excitement of very successful MIPIM/AJ coverage, including all of the MIPIM-related goss. None of which he told me, I hasten to add. 

Mark’s Thursday lunch is always very relaxed. A good balance of familiar and new industry-related faces. I’m pleased to say that the biblical rain subsided by the end of lunch, circa 5pm. 

I headed back to the hotel to work, via a brief hello/goodbye at the London Stand. 

Feeling a little sad that MIPIM 2018 is nearly over; I do love it. That all went very quickly.

7:52pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

No alcohol passed my lips today, yessss! It very nearly did at the Trowers and Hamlin brunch but it seemed my resolve was strengthened by the awful weather and I substituted chilly bubbles for a hot Earl Grey… nice. I’m afraid we didn’t make it to the Iceni pool party, but I did encourage others to go. I’m not sure Andrew Gale will read this but I hope it went well. 

Bedraggled but optimistic, Jenny (my PRP best friend) and I soothed ourselves in the London stand by camping out at the Mayor’s stand (thank you for having us). Well, it is tricky to camp anywhere when the terrace is closed. It wasn’t planned but this turned out to be a useful way to meet some of the people we were looking for as we were able to grab them as they went past. I was able to pass on my thanks to Paul Finch for keeping his AR awards speech last night to 25 minutes and for showing us more than one image of the winning buildings. Then Rob Charnock from Higgins settled in for a catch up on business and the inevitable conversation about teenage children and how they go about forming into adulthood with their outspoken views. Several other chats, a couple of Lindor chocolates from the stand in the corner and we set off for our taxi ride to the airport. The hello’s and ‘wow I can’t believe I missed you in Cannes’ comments continued in the check-in queue, security queue and boarding queue (!) and it all feels like a giant school trip. EasyJet were on time and I’m definitely going to make it home in time for cuddles from my three gorgeous children… that’s after the dog has taken me out at the front door!!!   

Thanks MIPIM, thanks AJ for inviting to me to blog. It’s been a blast.

5:44pm Mark Middleton

I left Cannes this morning so I don’t really have much to say other than about last night. 

Last night centred in the AJ Future Projects Awards at the Marriott hotel. The ceremony has become an institution and I really like that the awards are given out at a fair lick. The awards bit took only 25 minutes, which for those of us who sit through the 4,000 awards given out by the Civic Trust at their dinner, this was Hyperloop-fast. 

Paul Finch had a firm hand on the tiller as ever, and it was nice to see some familiar faces in the assembled guests. I was seated next to fellow blogger Phil Coffey, who was as ebullient as ever. I usually struggle to get a word in edgeways with him when we meet but I think I held my own last night. Mainly by telling the story about myself, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and the Bee Gees in St Petersburg. You’ll have to find me to hear that one though.

Even though the days are hot, the nights are a bit chilly in Cannes at this time of year. I braved the cold and sat for a while outside at Le Crillon for a few drinks with the guys from Bespoke Careers and Chris Kitching of Mott Macdonald, who might be the funniest engineer I know. Always ask him to read the contract though. The place was absolutely packed and despite the booming business the proprietor of Le Crillon didn’t seem the least bit happy with the spike in her daily takings. 

Lots of talk in the crowd about journalists from the Daily Mail hawking around the bars trying to find evidence of President’s Club behaviour and of course the horrendous revelations regarding Richard Meier. I am pleased to report that I haven’t seen anything boorish or inappropriate during my time in Cannes. The assembled crowds have remained jovial and well-mannered throughout. There is a great deal of camaraderie and professional bonhomie on show; old acquaintances are refreshed and new ones made. That’s the real story of MIPIM. 

5:32pm Hazel Rounding

A soggy day of North West-centred debate for me today.

Firstly the Future Homes panel in the Manchester ‘pavilion’; a most thought-provoking tussle between Homes England and TV celebrity George Clarke. Valid points raised by all, particularly the need for better products through education and investment in skills training. The voice of reason came from our client of 20 years, Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash – who shedkm has worked with for six years in an attempt to upset the housing market and pioneer a new future in housing design and delivery through custom build, modular products. Could Tom be the future entrepreneur of the 21st century Garden City?

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Later, a visit to the Liverpool stand for ‘In Conversation with Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool city region and Ben Derbyshire, RIBA President’ – a pledge for densification and good design with 20,000 homes by 2022 through a six-district spatial strategy required to encourage investors. Again a desire to break down the barriers in education with government trust and faith in regional efficiency and economic growth through local people. Perhaps scope to join the strands next year?

3:09pm Donna Macfadyen

Thursday morning – well more rain… this is completely disgusting weather, lots of totally utterly soaked suits wandering around. I had a productive brunch on the seafront with some developers I’d met before at one of the built environment network events. It’s nice to see repeat friendly faces.

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I had a good chat with someone from the National Grid about all their disused sites. Long discussion about the issues and opportunities of reimagining industrial sites as residential – we at Makower just got our Nestle Factory site through planning, 1,380+ units on a complicated site with listed buildings. I also made a tour of the northern stands today, a quick coffee catch up with John Burrows of BurrowsLittle Architects, hearing about all their work in Leeds and the surrounding area, really exciting stuff! Now braving the outside again – let’s see what the afternoon brings!

1:27pm Bea Young

Such a shame my last morning has been a complete washout, weather-wise. It seems that the rain is reminding people of home; all my conversations today have been about the London Plan, housing policies and industrial land. 

The most enjoyable part of MIPIM for me has been looking around all the other UK stands; such a positive outlook for the UK as each region seems to be really active, with targeted growth in all areas.  Favourite stands apart from London (obvs) Manchester and the Midlands. 

Heading off for last lunch now before a dash to the airport.

1.25pm Jo Wright

The weather forecast has turned out to be completely accurate, but I’m not sure even the best prepared attendees have anticipated quite how relentless the rain would turn out to be. Lots of people clearly packed in denial and are looking cold and bedraggled. The bunker is heaving with damp people, the Arup boat has sprung leaks and those brave enough to venture out are scuttling from venue to venue with umbrellas blown inside out – MIPIM in the rain is no fun. Hard to believe yesterday’s lunchtime concern was guests getting sunstroke! 

The diversity challenge has come up in almost every conversation – it feels like the industry along with other sectors has had a massive wake up call and, while many people seem to understand that change is required, few seem to have a clear plan of how to get to a balanced team. One person I spoke to said: ‘We have a target, but no plan of what happens when we fail to meet it on time.’  

Fascinating to hear from the Midlands delegation that the Robin Hood I spotted yesterday in full costume outside their stand is a full-time professional Robin Hood, available for hire on home turf or abroad. I really hope his costume is rainproof!

12:34pm Donna Macfadyen

Donna macfadyen

Donna macfadyen

Wednesday: Finally some sunshine! I went to bed at a casual 4am after hours of pizza, beer and work chat. Up at 9am and at the London Pavilion by 10am, (massive lie in compared to the 4:30am starts on the cycle) and it’s very busy, everyone has got lots of energy and has been drinking lots of coffee.

I also checked out the Manchester stand (in its new location after the first one washed away!) and listened to Chris Boardman (pictured below) talking about his 15-point plan to improve cycling in Manchester. I asked a question about the effects exercise can have on mental health, and how city cycling could become a more communal exercise. The topic that nags at most of my (millennial) friends is loneliness and feeling isolated in the city. Commuting by bike is actually a very solitary experience and I’d like to hear thoughts on how more group-orientated cycling can be encouraged. Manchester had a great answer about cycle lane widths, allowing pairs to cycle side by side, be that a mother and kid or two friends, and someone made the point that if you are on a bike you make more direct eye contact with each other than if you are in a car. 

Donna mcf chris boardman crop

I’m still in the rhythm of craving carbs so I ate an absurd amount of risotto at the Heyne Tillett Steel Drinks on the beach. Lots of great introductions and confirmations of further meetings in london, a really fantastic crowd. I was persuaded to join an Italian developer’s drinks next door, sneaked in as someone’s stepdaughter, which no one on the door seemed to either believe or challenge!  

Wed evening was filled with the AR awards dinner with again more fantastic discussion and opportunities to introduce yourself and describe your work. Our table was rating each category as they came up on the screen – turns out that no one likes triangles !

Finished the evening in the Manchester bar with Matt Thornley of Gibson Thornley Architects, hearing all about their exciting work at the V&A. We are also both working in the Southwark area on housing and it was really interesting to hear about the different typologies they are experimenting with over various ‘gap sites’. 

Another walk home in the early hours. I stopped to help a teary property person who was wandering around helplessly with no phone battery and no shoes. He had been dropped off by his taxi about a minute from his apartment but that last 20m of travel was too much without guidance :)

12:24pm Ben Cousins

Build to Rent seems to be the talk of the town. At every event I attend, I engage in conversation with enlightened individuals about how offsite modular will transform the housing market, and how the future of AR and the internet of things will unshackle us from our current design constraints.  

In fact it got me thinking that I’m sure it won’t be long before the likes of Apple and Google get in on the act and start selling smart modular offsite housing systems which fully incorporate emerging tech into every aspect of the living environment. Who needs interior design if you could immerse yourself in a AR interior world with any number of ‘scenes’ – scary thought, but not so far from a possible reality. 

Last night was rounded off with a drink at the Manchester Bar with slightly less enlightening chat before the heavens opened and bed called.

11:04am Neil Deely

Yesterday evening was fun at the AR Future Project Awards dinner in the bowels of JW Marriot Hotel, especially so since we were awarded a commendation for our Mapleton Crescent project for Pocket Living in the Tall Buildings Category. Quite an honour with over 33 entries worldwide – and especially when you consider it is over 60 per cent affordable housing! 

Lots of friendly faces in attendance and I caught up with fellow blogger and college friend Ann-Marie Nicholson for the first time in years and had great conversations with Gus Zogolovitch, Peter Stewart and Roger Stephenson of Stevenson Bell Architects (another modest hero) and always stimulating discussion. 

The night was rounded off in the time-honoured way at the premises formerly known as the Manchester Bar; although I am not sure the new owners fully appreciate it is such a firm favourite of MIPIMers as they had run out of beer by about 1am – just as the rain started to fall. 

Definitely time to turn in!

10:23am Hazel Rounding

everybody is talking about housing … but in Croydon, we have the full picture – the ever inspiring + passionate Jo Negrini talks at a soggy Croydon brunch!

Jo negrini

10:02am Anne-Marie Nicholson

At 23.22 last night I heard the news that PRP had broken the record for the largest detailed planning application consent in the UK – 2,532 new homes in Lambeth in one night! Pretty amazing stuff. It became all-consuming in our studio for 11 months. Phew! Richard Harvey our design director is a legend.

AR awards last night was fun, Paul Finch is always entertaining and Richard Waite is always after a story. I’m going to see how many schemes we have with a canal as they seem to win awards every time. Well done everyone.

Last day in Cannes and heading off to Trowers and Hamlin brunch then Iceni pool party with my umbrella!

10:00am Tamsie Thomson

So after two days of wonderful weather, we are now drowning. But my morning began beneath a huge ‘London Is Open’ banner, and indeed it is as I chair a panel on new development in London with Sir Edward Lister and other leading lights, competing valiantly with the thud of the rain on the roof above us.

Nor has the support and the enthusiasm for the campaign subsided. I have been approached by hundreds of women here at MIPIM thanking LFA for launching the campaign, and telling us it has empowered them to demand better treatment from their peers and colleagues.

One told us how, when walking down the Croisette on Tuesday afternoon, a man told her ‘you don’t belong here’. She said that while in the past she may have awkwardly laughed it off, this time around she felt empowered to challenge him and his behaviour. His response: ‘are you a journalist?’ It demonstrates there’s a problem, it demonstrates our campaign is having an impact, but it also demonstrates how far we have to go. 

Pinkelephantbadge

9:53am Joe Morris

So, I’m a vegan. I’m a vegan. I’m a vegan. There, I’ve said it three times. I’ve been saying it over and over and over and over, again and again for the last eight or so months. It pisses people off I think. Why? Well I guess it confronts people with an objective challenge to their own misgivings. It’s easy to ignore the issues that veganism is desperate to table; environmental catastrophe, rain forests lost, depleting health, the strain on the NHS, ethics and compassion and so forth … so in Cannes I’ve had dinner meetings and lunch meetings. It seems baked artichoke is the (only) go-to dish. Looking forward to London where it seems we celebrate all things plant. 

9:40am Joe Morris

There is much to talk about. There is a groundswell of opinion regarding fairness and equality manifest I guess by people wearing badges with pink elephants. Simple, concise, visible, good. Interesting to hear Vicky Richardson’s thoughts on how this patronises the issue of women in industry. I find the comments bizarre. Raising awareness in an industry endemic with prejudice, exploitation and sexism can only be good … no? 

Dinner last night at a table of men. Eight of us. Good men, on the face of it. Under the skin, incredible ignorance exposed through a discussion about equality, inclusivity, fairness and the problems of meritocracy. Seems we have a long long way to go if the people you might think would understand the importance of this are so far away from empathising the issue. 

Despite my protestations, it seems the financial success of a business is more important to most than the method of business. 

If you ask me, it’s bollox.

9:29am Ben Derbyshire

Day 3. On my way back to our Airbnb to write this blog, I catch sight of a wide-eyed and manic Mr Bean on the wall of the pizzeria where I pick up a working supper. Captures the atmosphere rather well, I feel. 

The day starts with breakfast hosted by the Housing Forum. Andy von Bradsky took over the chairmanship of this cross-sectoral membership organisation from me before I ran for the presidency at RIBA. It goes from strength to strength and Andy’s role as one of a growing number of architect expert advisers at MHCLG must surely be a boost. Their event is called ‘Stopping Building Failures’ and I come away with a handy little leaflet reporting that, according to warranty provider BLP, 90 per cent of building failures are attributable to poor workmanship. Bring back traditional procurement and reinstate the clerk of works, I say.

I hasten to the London Stand to meet the new boss of Countryside Properties, Graham Cherry. I go back a long way with Countryside and have been through thick and thin with them as clients, to put it mildly. The late, great Alan Cherry and I got to know each other toing and froing by EasyJet to consult with the oracle-like Ralph Erskine on our project for the Greenwich Millennium Village in the closing years of the last century. It all went wrong for us then, but it’s a testament to the importance of personal relationships that we are able to discuss future collaborations with RIBA on the Housing Expo, estate regeneration for the future. 

After that I host a lunch for some of the chartered practices represented on our RIBA stand to meet Roger and Gus Zogolovitch, Heather Cheeseborough and Pat Hayes – all variously engaged in promoting infill housing projects of one sort or another. I catch a great candid shot of Zog the elder beachcombing for shards of polished green glass (he promises to send me images of ‘the finished work’) before we sit down. The talk is of means by which we can make planning and the local acceptance of small interventions easier to obtain – perhaps through Local Development Orders. My partner at HTA Design, Sandy Morrison (AKA Sandys Drawings), fresh from the Club Peloton ride, captures the relaxed informality and mutual appreciation in a sketch. 

Ben derbyshire drawing

Ben derbyshire drawing

Then I am on the podium at the London Stand, chairing a panel on ‘Kingston Futures’; local authority personnel from and VC of Kingston University joining with Tony Pidgley and Tamsie Thomson to set out a vision for this historic Borough. Tamsie reminds us of the Elephant-In-The-Room, then she champions innovative placemaking and it’s no wonder that she is possibly one of the youngest ever awarded an honorary fellowship of RIBA. I challenge Tony Pidgley to tell us how he plans to ensure that locals get to enjoy the benefits, affordably, of his projects there. He says it’s quite simple really. I say it isn’t. He looks disconcerted. I get a laugh. 

In the UK Government stand, I’m on a panel challenged by David Marks of Brockton Capital to explain ‘what went wrong’ when it comes to design and quality. My fellow panel members seem intent on the suggestion that there is a false premise behind this question. However, emboldened by my lapel badge from the RIBA stand which asserts ‘Architects Save you Money’, I insist that there is wide misconception that as designers we simply embellish, and therefore a failure to recognise our critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills – all of which add considerable value for any clients who care to avail themselves. I feel vindicated by a tweet of endorsement from Sarah Weir of the Design Council who is in the audience. 

By this time, I’m ready for a drink, so head thankfully to our own HTA Design LLP beach party at Maema Plage – a MIPIM watering hole, as far west as you can get from la Croisette – and it feels like coming home.

9:26am Phil Coffey

Last night, as a kind invite from Mike Staples of AECOM, we sat and watched prizes being given to buildings that haven’t been built yet. The Minority Report of awards, the AR Future Projects awards with your host Tom Cruise AKA Paul Finch. You can just imagine Paul on a wire, dropping through space, through laser beams, snagging a lift shaft … but I’m still not convinced he is precognitive, so Paul, as a test, can you please confirm the following: 

• Will several lovely developers flock to Coffey and Croissants this morning at our stand in the London tent between 0930 and 1030 and offer us some beautiful, lucrative projects? Get a move on, we are here already.

* Will all guests invited to our 1330 lunch today at Gaston Gastonette turn up on time? That includes you Edo, Olaide, Russell, Amanda, Ged, Alice, Gus and John. Especially you John. You’ve been late before.

• In this torrential rain, will the London Square Yacht be able to actually sail up the Croissette today? It’s a long walk round for my client meeting at 1530 … if you could just sail down and dock in the Porte cochere of the Marriot, I would be most grateful.

• Can I find time to get to Atelier Ten this afternoon? Much love to Patrick Bellew stuck in London, you are missed. 

• Will several lovely developers flock to Coffey’s Cocktails, including delicious Martini Espressos, at our stand in the London tent at 330/430 – just like they might have done this morning for coffee? Shameless.

• Paul, will you be as funny as you were last year in your final MIPIM statement? Canned Laughter at 4, next to our Martini Espressos, not to be missed. 

• Yesterday, having been asked to become an LFA Patron by Barry Keogh (monthly direct debit please Barry), and being signed up to become an RIBA chartered practice on the beach (how much?), will today bring me the opportunity to sign up for the role of RIBA president for a not inconsiderable sum at my dinner with RIBA CEO Alan Valance at 8? That was a joke. I know, you saw it coming. 

Thanks Paul, I look forward to your response. 

Just a final question. Where do you think we will end up late this evening?  

Actually don’t worry … I think I, too, am having future visions … I see a bar … architects … beer … it’s coming to me … La, la Crillon. You already know you will see me there.

9:25am Tamsyn Curley

Wednesday morning was spent at the busy London Stand. Lunch/sustenance in the sunshine, then up to Club Maintenon Hotel terrace for the fabulous Price & Myers ‘do’.

While enjoying the stunning views over Cannes, we catch up with many familiar friendly faces. This is the beauty of MIPIM, catching up over a glass of rosé in the sunshine, everyone taking a breather from their busy cities. It’s an important time to reflect and refocus as well as time to forge new relationships.

We’re very fortunate that most of our work comes via recommendation; we’ve made many new contacts and built long-standing relationships over the years, while here, year on year and without fail. Our clients/friends are a joy to work with and to be around, so MIPIM is more a week of refreshment and continued bonding for us.

As we left the party, I opted for an Uber to get us to the next ‘do’ with HTA. Instead, I received an option solely for an UberCopter!? Only in Cannes! Needless to say, we walked.

9:12am Bea Young

On Wednesday I focused on the London stand; in particular our masterplan model for Be First/ Barking & Dagenham. The model was really well received and sparked lots of conversations.  

MIPIM gives everyone the opportunity to share ideas. I think local authorities like Be First, who under Pat Hayes have the vision to drive ideas and seize opportunities, should be applauded.  

I think that is the big ‘take home’ for me. MIPIM gives accessibility to big thinkers who have strong ideas that they want to share. Each stand I have visited has been very different, but the optimism and vision have been the common thread that has held the whole event together.  

That combined with the energy and ambition of many London boroughs is infectious. I’m hearing a lot today about councils and communities creating new places in unrealised tired town centres. 

I’m now heading out for my last night. Nothing formal planned, so an impromptu dinner with friends and colleagues arranged instead. 

I’ve really enjoyed my first MIPIM, especially all the chance conversations and seeing lots of London faces all relaxed and enjoying the sunshine. Given all the press and tales of seas of grey suits, I was surprised to find myself queuing for the ladies – some things are the same the world over!

8:53am Hazel Rounding

Hazel 5

Hazel 5

Residential typologies and the question of ‘what are people without public space and parks?’ were the hot topics of conversation across the stands yesterday, with debates lingering between colleagues across the vino. 

The North West revealed projects from the Far East Consortium in Manchester to Peel’s Wirral Waters with Urban Splash as well as development with Liverpool Waters. 

Meanwhile, the London stand was as busy as usual with a wide array of talks and models showcasing the next great place to live, be that North in Wembley Park, central, or South in Croydon. 

PRS, BTR and many other acronyms flow from delegates lips with ease these days but for me it was a day to question (and appreciate!) what makes a great place to live at a placemaking level … indoor communal amenity and individual balconies aside, appreciation of open space in whatever form that takes (with a programme to suit!), has taken centre stage and has to be the responsibility of all involved in our shared built environment.

8:26am Steve Sanham

Soooo… interesting day yesterday – it was packed with meetings, most of which I seemed to turn up to about 15 minutes late, which seems to be accepted over here. Think Cannes time must be GMT +1hr15m.

I did my stint on the UK Government Panel talking about design and quality in homes. It was more challenging than I’d hoped, as it got rather hijacked at the end by a couple of disgruntled audience members who wanted to direct their ire about the planning system and the state of the UK housing market at us.

Perhaps they arrived late from a long lunch and didn’t really grasp what we were talking about. The mike never came to me, but I was limbering up to respond nonetheless… and I will have a quick go here.

The planning system is very imperfect, very complex, and at times very irritating. But so is democracy. 

At some time in our lives we wonder whether things would be better without planning (or democracy?), but it’s the system we have… and until someone thinks of a better system it is the system we have to learn to operate in.

And in the grand scheme of things it’s OK. A panel discussion on design quality on the UK Government Stand seemed an odd place to try to work out a new system.

At HUB we have a 100 per cent track record of success in major planning applications in London and the South East. I’m not saying that to show off, but I am saying that to show that there is a way of navigating the minefield of planning, finding a route which works for the majority, and delivers the development which ensures our urban centres remain successful places.

Oh, and design review is ace – challenging, but ace.

8:17am Olaide Oboh

My day three at MIPIM starts with a wash out. I decided to put on my trainers and brave it, and ended up with wet toes, socks and trainers – a great start! After two days of wall-to-wall sunshine, the rain has arrived and it’s very, very heavy.

On Tuesday I enjoyed two excellent events. We hosted a lunch at the stunning Les Bistrot des Anges, a little drive outside of central Cannes, but well worth it. It was quite refreshing to leave all the suits behind on the Croisette and breathe in some fresh air up in the hills.

I also attended a dinner hosted by London First with over 25 women! I was honoured to be invited to join this dinner to celebrate success and discuss the ongoing challenges – and meeting a group of such inspirational women was a real highlight. The discussion centred around supporting women and men back into work post-maternity/paternity leave, whether we need quotas or targets to improve gender balance, and how women can make our voices heard in the corridors of influence.

Today will see most people packing up and getting ready to go home. I’ll continue with meetings and briefings; and for the first time this week, sort out my emails! The thought of that frightens me…

7:04am Carol MacBain

Good morning from a wet and windy Cannes. A soggy start to the walk along the Croisette this morning. 

Image1

Scottish Cities Alliance / Property EU investment briefing first thing, with a panel representing good cross-sector experience. Looking forward to some lively discussions. 

2:24am Joe Morris

Massive conversation about gender and ethnic equality tonight. Table: eight white men. 

Me This isn’t right.

Table We agree but you can’t change things.

Me Yes you can, if you want to.

Table But it’s too difficult because…

Me Well that’s because you continue to perpetuate the difficulty through the significance of ignorance.

Table No, you can’t approach it in this way.

Me Meritocracy isn’t the answer.

Table We don’t employ women because they get pregnant.

Me Are you actually saying this out loud?

Table

Wednesday 14 March

10:35pm Ada Yvars Bravo

In the morning I went to Barcelona pav again because I am homesick. Then went to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games thingy. With MYAAs FIFA World Cup sports experience we thought this would be a great opportunity, but all they made me hold up was the ‘M’.

I don’t mind because ’M’ is for me or MYAA, so I got a free subliminal message to the developers. I hope this is not a private joke only MYAA team can understand.

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Talking of FIFA, Barcelona 3 Chelski 0. Mi pin very Messy. I feel sorry for Russia team losing again. 

As Terreza May says, Russia cannot be allowed to play with us. 

Last night I was crying when I saw the wonderful poetry from the AJ bloggers, and it’s amazing the long essays people can write when they are supposed to be working. I need Google translate so apologies. Besitos.

10:17am Hazel Rounding

Today’s the first and only time the shedkm team has crossed paths this week! We’re all out and about filling our individual diaries with a mixture of events, talks, scheduled meetings and chance encounters. Time for lunch with the RIBA president Ben Derbyshire for me… and an opportunity to discuss local authority-led housing development and the opportunity for SME involvement in urban intensification and placemaking….

6:36pm Andrew McMullan

Great breakfast meeting with the Bristol and West team. My place of birth stands at the cusp of some extraordinary projects.  

Why do some cities punch above their weight? How do they avoid being drained of talent and being caught up in the vortex effect of major hubs like London or Manchester? 

The mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, talked to me about the exciting development and regeneration opportunities, from Temple Quarter to the Western Harbour. 

I came away with a number of promising follow-up meetings.  Marvin has great confidence and ambition, and more importantly, understands what projects need to be undertaken to turn the good ideas into reality. I’m very keen to help! 

It was a pleasure meeting with Peter Murray at the London tent to discuss opportunities for further contributions to the NLA and the wider architectural community. Thank you for the kind introduction from my friend Albert Taylor (AKTII).  This was followed by a frenetic series of introductions and catch-ups throughout the rest of the day. 

You will find me relaxing with a glass of cider and championing my city in a Bristolian accent at the AECOM reception, followed by dinner with FTI and the Times newspaper, at the Architectural Review Future Project Review 2018.

6:14pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

Job done! Thanks to Grosvenor I have the perfect present for the kids: jumbo custard creams and Bourbon biscuits! But I only stopped by their stand to see if Graham Parry was available to chat about my favourite topic (The London Plan/Later Living etc). He wasn’t but I left with a happy heart knowing that there is a Grosvenor paper being issued about it all next week, so it’s all true and Jules Pipe must be able to feel his ears burning (in a positive way, of course).  

Img 9756

I failed to find him today but that’s because I had a full day, which included a salad lunch and Perrier with the lovely Tim Shaw from Carter Jonas. He was run over on his bike in London a few weeks ago and still managed a run and press ups this morning while the rest of you MIPIM maniacs were on the beach!   

Our drinks event was a success; some of us have topped up with more vitamin D than we needed and I wore my pink elephant badge with pride (you can find them on the London Stand by the door). Off to the AR Future Projects dinner now and looking forward to that. I have vowed to be in bed by 11:30 and up at 6am to make the most of my last day.  

5.51pm Phil Coffey

Things happened so quickly yesterday. Here’s a brief history of my time. 

0830: 2 hours 20 minutes Aix to Cannes in a taxi as I sit out (gingerly) the final day of the ride for a very special lunch. This year everything starts at Tom Bloxham’s and ends at Tom. Hopefully with a Big Bang.  

1100: 45 minutes in a taxi from Cannes to the bubble house in the hills. Arrived relatively early.  

1130: Urban Splash are 25 years old this year, Tom Bloxham eloquently talks about their upcoming exhibition at the RIBA, ‘It Will Never Work’. An impressive portfolio of architecture over a quarter of a century. (Space over time.) 

1200-1500: In a long chat with Stephen Hodder, I discover he has a unifying theory for St Michaels. By keeping a pub in Manchester, he has removed over 4,000 objections from the United fans who frequent the Sir Ralph Abercrombie. Smart. I also discover he is afraid of heights and won’t do site visits over seven storeys. Can that be right, an architect currently building towers of numerous sizes … who is afraid of gravity? 

1600-1800: The peloton arrives. The last day is tough; we clap them in … they look tired, beaten, eyes like black holes. 

1900-2100: Drinks with Hannah Corlett of Assemblage and on to Caro Communications dinner with Carolyn Quarkin (sorry). Sitting opposite Pankaj and Andy of Patel Taylor, we discuss the RIBA awards, business practice and us beating them in a recent competition that I only discovered halfway through the conversation. Awkward. But as usual they handled it with great dignity and honour. Lovely fellows. 

2125: Had difficulty explaining to another architect that building a tower in Southwark isn’t as complicated as designing a house in Islington. Its mostly about quantum. It’s not rocket science.  

2300-0200: Manchester used to have two venues where you could drink Champagne, but it seems due to some sort of Supernova (on the beach) one was blown away and the other has lost its name. All the same it was good to be at La Crillon listening to a drunken James o’Callaghan explaining the meaning of life and his theory of everything. For a millennium. 

I don’t know where the bits in between went … sometimes when you are in MIPIM it feels like you are living in a parallel universe. That important things are happening elsewhere and you are detached from it … such as the death of a hero. Rest in peace, Professor Stephen Hawking. 

5:03pm Neil Deely

‘Housing, Housing and Housing – but It’s not about numbers (well it is) it’s all about Place!’

Everyone is saying it down here but what do they mean? Homes England got the ball rolling in the UK tent this morning with their CEO Nick Walkley leading the charge, chairing a debate about Disrupting the Housing Industry. Thoughtful offerings from an all-female panel that included Pat Ritchie (Newcastle), Joanne Roney (Manchester City) putting an emphasis on place, diversity through not relying on volume housebuilders, and an emphasis in the design of social housing on women and children.

Panelists said their cities are seeing a return to city centres of older generations, who appear to be trading the tranquility of the suburbs for better access to facilities and transport. Interesting. Will they free up under-occupied homes for young families? Sounds like a policy may need to be written to help that trend on its way.

But how do you know when you have established a place and when it is any good? And how will Homes England encourage it? Perhaps by using Design for Homes/Cabe Building for Life? David Birkbeck is here so perhaps that conversation will happen. That’s the beauty of MIPIM – there is always lots of ideas being exchanged and that’s where it all starts.

Spotted at least two architects today in wetsuits! I think they may have swum at least part of the way here – or perhaps they were just evading the pricey London Stand entry fee. There is talk next year of one particularly keen-to-impress architect planning to arrive from 20,000 feet in a wingsuit. Hope the tide’s out.

Many boroughs here again this year promoting opportunities, and their presentations look serious, unflashy and credible. There is a particular buzz around the Newham stand, which this year is cleverly placed on the sun terrace. Nice move!

Off to the AR Future Projects Awards this evening – our scheme for Pocket in Wandsworth is entered for the Tall Buildings category. Fingers crossed!

3:32pm Mark Middleton

Another slow start to the day, which was in no way related to drowning my sorrows after my boat-related embarrassment last night. I went to the WSP breakfast first thing and received a warm welcome, coffee and croissants. Had some fascinating chats about modular housing solutions. Lots of ideas out there and my feeling is it will take a bunch of solutions to meet the need, but I don’t think there is a holy grail of a perfect answer. However, my biggest conclusion of the morning was that my personal chart of most favourite engineers has seen some risers and fallers over the past 24 hours. 

After a pit stop at the Keppie reception in Cafe Roma, I strode along the Croisette in the sunshine to the Carlton Hotel for the CBRE-sponsored London First lunch. Fantastically organised and some great introductions facilitated by the networking ninja that is Sean Fleetwood. Thank you! 

The lunch was excellent but bettered by the after-dinner speech by Miles Gibson, the head of research for CBRE. He gave a great insight into UK economy and our post-Brexit future. Among other things, he predicted that interest rates would be raised not once but perhaps twice this year.

He also suggested a different narrative for the financial service industry in London. He advised that we shouldn’t be distracted by tales of relocations but instead enjoy the optimism provided by our innovative flexibility. As an example, he noted that we sell more than twice the amount of insurance to the USA as we do the EU and that allied with our place with fintech we should have a very strong future. He also predicted that life sciences and health would be a massive new market for us all and that the knowledge economy is worth looking at.

Once finished, I feverishly emailed all the new contacts I have made, partially through eagerness but mainly because I have committed a MIPIM cardinal sin: I’ve run out of business cards. I must have gotten over excited and threw them around like confetti the first few days I was here and I’m now paying the price. You see even after 10 visits to Cannes I’m still learning something.

I’m really looking forward to tonight. The main event will be the AR Future Project awards. I’m pretty sure we didn’t enter anything but it’s a great event, one of MIPIM’s best, and it’s nice to see awards for things that haven’t been done yet – they are usually only for built work. I’m looking forward to the Finchy-isms. 

3:31pm Jo Wright

The day started well with British Land’s Women of Influence breakfast – great discussion around what motivates men in senior positions to sponsor women’s progression (having daughters was one suggestion!) I took the opportunity to promote the Equilibrium Network.

A really stimulating lunch on the Arup boat discussing how the West Midlands can best benefit from the development of HS2 Birmingham Interchange station, which we are just embarking on designing.

Tamsie’s LFA elephant badge has been a great conversation-starter several times over today. One of my favourite things about MIPIM is the slightly random opportunity to meet new people with a shared interest in the sector. Next I’m off to hear what’s afoot in Bristol and (my hometown) of Bath.

11:56am Tamsyn Curley

We arrived in sunny Cannes to an amazing lunch at Tom Bloxham’s ever beautiful Maison Bulle. Tom and Jonathan Falkingham are celebrating 25 years of Urban Splash this year. Tom made a heartfelt speech about collaboration strong relationships and tenacity being key to success. They’re hosting an exhibition at the RIBA soon, ironically titled ‘It will never work’.

I confess that I missed a celebratory afternoon with the formidable C2C cyclists in favour of a three-hour restorative kip (gutted to miss you all, but I really needed it). The 3am start and a super-busy first few months took its toll. Refreshed and raring to go, we headed for Carolyn Larkin’s vibrant dinner at Gaston Gastonette. Finishing, not too late, at the Manchester bar, obvs.

10:59am Andrew McMullan

Raced through heavy traffic from the airport to a wonderful lunch on the beach, served with great guests and dessert to match. The future of work was one of the hottest topics at my end of the table, with plenty of room for debate around what impact automation technology like artificial intelligence and robotics will have on jobs, skills, and the design of our workplace. 

Arrived at my apartment to be greeted by a framed photograph of the clean-shaven face of a young Brad Pitt, the kind of grooming power move that says you’re really backing your bone structure.  Could this be the home of his European fan club? 

Mcmullan brad pitt

Hit the stands in the afternoon to orientate myself and make some first contacts, followed by a very long evening of events.  Enjoyed an inspiring conversation about dry-jointed timber construction with Elliot Wood at his fantastic party. 

I have been impressed by the size of the place. Without a doubt, MIPIM is a great opportunity for some serious networking. It’s clear that all of us are here for the same reason. To create new relationships and build potential future collaborations with great prospects for each side. 

MIPIM is being held with the backdrop of the #MeToo and Time’s up movements, currently taking social media by storm. The Elephant campaign, launched by The London Festival of Architecture to tackle sexism – the elephant in the room – calls on the architecture industry to stamp out sexual discrimination in all its forms and places.  

Recent sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein demonstrate how bad behaviour can continue despite many people possibly having knowledge of the wrongdoings. We must be vigilant, call it out and lead by example. 

You will find me wearing The Elephant campaign badge at MIPIM, while attempting to make new friends by replicating Brad Pitt’s smouldering look.

9:48am Anne-Marie Nicholson

MIPIM is bursting with energy, I’m sure it’s better than ever! Diversity is a big theme and I’ve had some great conversations with other women about our own experiences and responsibilities for the younger generation. I need one of those pink badges, where do I get one from? 

Attended the ‘First London’ investor dinner last night along with Estates Gazette up in the hills and above the heaving throng of Le Croisette. Traffic was a theme (the sheer amount of it) but I had great company on the bus sat next to Jasmine Whitbread, chief exec of London First, who has had a career that put my 20 years at PRP into perspective.

Chatted quite frankly to Victoria Hills from OPDC and I vowed to speak to Jules Pipe, who gave us a welcome speech about the draft London Plan, his skills strategy for construction workers and how there is huge faith in investing in London. I say he needs an older persons champion … .pick me!!! I’ve read his document cover to cover and through the lens of the later-living housing sector and it needs some work. 

Feeling the usual urge to get back to the London stand, and sorry to hear that Manchester got washed away by the sea. Overheard some of the dislodged VIP delegates who were a bit surprised to see Manchester setting up in their area yesterday but needs must.

9:42am Ada Yvars Bravo

Ada yvars bravo pavilion wackiness

London Pavilion is really busy… and you can meet the architects at the RIBA.

9:40am Olaide Oboh

Two breakfasts, a brunch, a lunch and a dinner – that’s my diary for Day 2 at MIPIM. To make sure that I can still fit into my clothes, I’ll try and squeeze in a quick gym session at some point! 

Wednesday is one the busiest days at MIPIM as most people aim to be here mid-week. I’ll be mainly meeting with London boroughs to hear about the ambitious transformation plans and also taking the time to visit the many regions represented this year – Bristol, Midlands, Oxford etc – to understand how they see their cities developing. 

What I have already noticed this year is the gender balance is looking much better. This is very refreshing and I must commend the excellent campaign by Tamsie from the London Festival of Architecture. I have been wearing my pink elephant with pride to raise awareness and have been encouraged that people are willing to engage in open debate about the issues in the industry.

8:59am Bea Young

Another beautiful day. Got a bit lost on way to a breakfast event but stumbled on some gorgeous Belle Epoque detailing so not a completely wasted stroll!

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Everyone says this year is quieter than before but that today might be the busiest day, I’ll let you know. 

Heading to the London Stand after breakfast. Really looking forward to seeing our model of Barking Vision for Be First.

8:37am Tamsie Thomson

The sun is shining again, the mood is positive and it’s set to be another busy day. Meetings for me at the London stand this morning, followed by the annual fixture for the British Architecture delegation: the Price and Myers lunch.

This afternoon sees me taking to the stage at the London stand – twice. First to speak at Kingston’s panel discussion on the role architecture can have in making successful places and how to best capitalise on your existing heritage and cultural assets.

The second with Jules Pipe to launch the joint LFA and GLA report into the economic value of architecture to the London economy – be assured it’s a major financial and societal contributor! London is a major net exporter of architectural services and with growth in the architecture sector outstripping the rest of the creative sector, it looks set to be part of a post Brexit economic salve.

8:00am Olaide Oboh

First night at MIPIM and I can see why It’s so useful to be here. In just a few hours, I have spoken to at least four contacts who I haven’t managed to see in London due to diary clashes. 

Building meaningful relationships is essential in any industry and the ability to do this properly is one of the main advantages of MIPIM. Let’s see what the rest of the week has in store.

7:56am Joe Morris

Along with 200 others, riding from London St Gile Circus to Cannes MIPIM I have covered 1,500km on bike and, as a collective, raised almost £700,000 for a children’s charity this year. This is my 10th consecutive year travelling to MIPIM in this way, and while the basic premise throughout has remained consistent, many aspects of the ride have changed, some dramatically.  

Something that started out as a ramshackle ambitious idea, of fewer than 10 riders, with no support and meagre means, is now a highly organised multinational event, drawing hundreds of applications yearly. The cause is now firmly focused on raising money for Coram, an organisation helping change the lives of children throughout the country. The food has also dramatically improved, and this year saw the inaugural vegan menu for riders who have adopted a plant-based diet. I have to say that personally, this was some of the finest food I’ve eaten and all without any suffering, save for my own. 

However, some things haven’t changed. This year, of 200 riders, only a couple of handfuls were women. I find this continuously shocking. I’m spending a great deal of time talking to others to understand why. However it’s worth noting that Duggan Morris Architects had a team of two women and two men (including me) riding this year. All of us completed over 1,200km of riding each, and all more than capable of taking part, raising money, and covering the distance. 

Several legs of the Portsmouth route had women lead-outs, and day 6, stage 1, a very hilly and difficult leg was lead out with pace and energy by Anna Parry. Goes to show, it is absolutely possible.

7:51am Ben Cousins

Well, that was a good night!! Started with welcome drinks and a good catch up with the Club Peloton riders with a lot of very broken people who endured four days of pelting rain before the sun finally shone. Shock news that Joe Morris missed a stage for the first time ever. Good to see battle-scarred Chris Dyson and son Oliver (pictured) consoling each other over a beer, and  Matt Thornley swearing he’ll never do it again (like last year). But it was all worth while with a staggering £700k raised for charity. 

The dysons ben cousins

This was followed by drinks at the obligatory Elliot Wood party; then dinner with Bond Davidson, which turned into a full-scale late night drinkathon in ‘the Lanes’. Fortunately, my Airbnb studio apartment flooded over the weekend so they upgraded me to a studio 10 seconds walk from our final bar in the old town, meaning my early morning autopilot transit home was very easy. 

Today is packed: Contractor breakfast; then developer coffee, followed by Price & Myers drinks; lunch with Rise; then Connisbee and HTS drinks followed by the Walton Wagner event; then developer AR app launch (which looks amazing); dinner with BTP and then topped off with Bâoli’s club if I’ve got anything left in me… 

6:53am John McElgunn

Great first full day yesterday. Spent the morning catching up with people at the London Stand and chatting to Peter Murray and Sadie Morgan before their rounds of panel discussions and my rounds of meetings.  

Had a great lunch with Stace and Cowen meeting some very interesting developers and financiers.  

Back to London stand before starting the 4 x 100 metres engineers party dash!  Mott MacDonald set the early pace with an amazing location on the beach in west Cannes by the old town. Eckersley O’Callaghan’s great choice of venue near the Palaise was so popular that their crowd blocked the street. Ramboll actually managed to rustle up some Guinness at Ma Nolan’s and then finally Elliot Woods had a wonderful party in the Club Peloton Marquee, with both Gary and Paul looking alarmingly fresh having just completed the cycle to Cannes.  

I would love to say that there was a more even proportion of woman to men this year but that would not be true. However, lots of important discussion about improving the gender balance and support for initiatives like the ‘elephant campaign’ by the London Festival of Architecture, which aims to put an end to inappropriate or discriminatory attitudes and behaviour in the profession. Things must improve and the fact that it is such a common source of debate is important. 

In related gossip on la Croisette this year, apparently the BBC and many of the UK newspapers are here for the week trying to ensnare stupid/drunk men in inappropriate behaviour in a follow up to the ‘presidents club’ story. From what I hear they are definitely going to get a story even if they have to ‘engineer’ the whole thing.  

Finished the night at La Crillion (see picture below) before starting to think about the hectic schedule today and heading for some much-needed rest.  

France mcelgunn

 

Tuesday 13 March

11:35pm Jo Wright

Jo wright elephants

Jo wright elephants

Tamsie Thompson is not the only purveyor of elephants. I found these lurking in the depths of the Grand Palais! As ever after 15 minutes of wandering I was completely disoriented and wishing I’d left a trail of breadcrumbs to the exit.It was interesting to observe, as I searched for the way out, how many of the groups gathered around stands were entirely white middle-aged men; despite the zeitgeist, there was a shocking monoculture. The industry could be so much richer and more resilient if it welcomed a wider range of participants.

10:50pm Carol MacBain

Reflections on MIPIM first day:

Overwhelming was the initial reaction, the scale of the bunker, the sheer number of stands and attendees, how does anyone stand out or exert any presence within this confusion? 

We decided we needed some focus in the melee! 

Morning strategy: set up base camp in the front row of La Californie depositing husband and architect friend to hold position while we recce the scene, taking in an interview with MIPIM news and surveying the bunker. Position in the front row manfully retained for several hours (resulting in some sunburn and depleted financial reserves). 

Afternoon strategy: support the local team. Attended Invest in Glasgow Event where the focus was on Innovation Districts: 

  • The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) – supported by The Scottish Govt, Scottish Enterprise and Renfrewshire Council.
  • Glasgow Innovation District, supported by The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Scotland. 
  • Glasgow University Innovation District, supported by The University of Glasgow Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise.

Much positive talk of collaboration between all parties, with potential for the creation of visible and identifiable districts which have the potential to enhance the lives of the citizens of Glasgow, promoting activity, growth and energised communities. All well chaired by Prof Greg Clark and wholeheartedly supported by Dr Philip Boutellier, Berlin TXL Project with the message to investors from  Glasgow City Council  Chief Executive, Annemarie O’Donnell as ‘looking for a long-term relationship rather than a one night stand’. 

Evening strategy: quiet retreat. Wine bar with the troops to regroup and prepare for Day 2.

9:59pm Ben Derbyshire

My first email of the day of the day is from Linda Stevens, the excellent project manager of the RIBA delegation here, with the exciting news that I have an article featured on page 32 of the MIPIM News. Linda is a cup-half-full person. I am left wondering about the vast amount of printed verbiage around here and whoever gets to read it. I’m left reflecting fondly on my first faltering steps here 20 years ago when I brought bundles of leaflets along. This year I forgot to bring my cards and it does not seem to matter. 

The London Stand is heaving so I’m spirited away to the nearby HM Government stand for a brief meeting with the Metropolitan Mayor of Liverpool, where last year RIBA opened its northern HQ on the quayside. We discuss its application as example of the ‘Urban Room’ proposed in the Farrell Review. More and more of these are popping up in cities across the UK. I opened one in Nottingham last week – much less grand, but equally impressive in its representation of collaborative local networks. 

Then back to join a panel of Heather Cheesborough, Sadie Morgan and Darren Rodwell answering questions from Peter Murray on our views of the Draft London Plan. There is lots to commend it, but in particular I think architects should be celebrating the first ever published planning policy that acknowledges the importance of continuity of design through the development process. I do know of some developers who deliberately oppose this and not for the best of reasons, so I hope there has been a fulsome response in the now-closed consultation so that the measure sees the light of day. 

Then on to host a lunch in one of the quiet little restaurants around the headland to the west of Cannes. I discovered these years ago when they were little more than shacks and only a few of us were foolhardy enough to venture that far from the madding crowd. But today, my guests make the long walk to talk through their reaction to the joint memorandum of understanding I have signed with the presidents of RICS and CIOB, committing RIBA to work with them to build in better quality outcomes, particularly from Design and Build procurement. We have a frank and helpful discussion with directors from Engie, Keepmoat, Crest, Catalyst, Clarion and Enfield Council. Watch out for the consultation on this. 

On the way back, I’m in time to welcome the Club Peloton cyclists GrandeArrivée after five days of what Phil Coffey described as ‘worse than shooting yourself in the face’. Mind you, he told me that, stepping out of a sleek black VW Caravelle having left the Peloton en-route! To be fair, he would have missed a critical meeting had he not, the whole journey having been delayed by the weather. Anyway, I was proud to see so many HTA Design logos on the riders’ shirts – a consequence of our sponsorship this year which raised more than £30K for the Coram Foundation. 

Then there was today’s Spring Statement to address. I have issued a statement to say, ‘It beggars belief that over £800 million designated for affordable housing was returned to the government unspent.’ Not everyone will agree with me, but we spend a lot of time at RIBA lobbying for public investment in affordable housing supply as a vital element of the nation’s infrastructure – so it would be a little inconsistent to let that one pass. 

Tonight a quiet supper to discuss the potential for air-rights permitted development which is evidently envisaged by the NPPF, but is not without its technical challenges.

8:28pm Bea Young

The day just got better and better. Saw Amy Gilham, director at Turley talking with Segro on the government stand about logistics. Logistics should be one of the ‘infrastructures’ and should go hand in hand with residential. 

Walked down the beach to Rado for plenty of chat at Movers and Shakers.

Beautiful evening and sunset and looking forward to breakfast on the beach tomorrow.

7:53pm Mark Middleton

What a hectic day! There is so much to do at MIPIM and you can literally walk your legs to a bloody stumps traipsing up and down the Croisette. Admittedly it’s in the sunshine so no real struggle there.

A strong start at the London stand with lots of great talks hosted by the legend Peter Murray and from what I saw, Sadie Morgan had a recurring role on most panels. Very good information and debates on London transportation and overbuild but the lack of housing in the capital remained a recurring theme for most responses. 

The afternoon was taken up with two things, the Cycle to MIPIM arrival and a plethora of receptions by some great engineering firms. 

The Club Peloton arrival was great, more people should really make the effort to see it. Really inspiring to us mere mortals and I was glad to see Grimshaw partner Keith Brewis return not only in one piece but remarkably spry.

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After escorting Keith back to our apartment for a wash and brush up I headed to the Eckersley O’Callaghan drinks. It was very well attended and I managed to meet up with a lot of the architectural community on the narrow streets of Cannes. 

On then to the Elliot Wood reception back in the Cycle to MIPIM marquee. It was rammed, with many now washed and scrubbed and thankfully de-lycra’d cyclists who were sharing their stories and cementing newfound friendships. 

That’s the end of the good so far because unfortunately the evening then took a turn for the worse. I headed down to the Arup boat for a dinner and a fresh email acceptance in hand. However I had to feel the full excoriating flush of embarrassment as I was politely told there was no place for me. Email FUBAR. So with my head hung low I exited quickly and silently. The only thing worse would have been if I had fallen in the dock itself, thankfully I didn’t. But oh, the shame!

I’m hoping this sorry state of affairs isn’t the end to a great first full day. Luckily these sorts of things are water off a duck’s back, but I might not be going to Fitzrovia in the near future until my beamer subsides.  

Note to all, but especially to self: always double check your MIPIM appointments!!

6:24pm Tamsie Thomson

Well it’s been quite a day, so many great conversations and some amazing support for the #seetheelephant campaign. Pam Alexander’s speech at the London Stand opening reception was a real call to arms, and it’s been so rewarding to see badges spreading across the stand and beyond – a physical manifestation of ‘going viral’.

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Tomorrow’s another big day as we launch important new research into the economic heft and diversity of the London’s architecture profession, so it’s important to remember that we need to pace ourselves. Even though it’s only day one the tempo of what we’re up to is physically demanding – but a colleague’s top tip has done wonders. Apparently if you stand with your hands behind your back – a la Prince Philip – it’s good for lower back endurance when you’re on your feet all day. Only problem is you can’t hold a glass. Failing that there’s always our deckchairs…

5:15pm Ada Yvars Bravo

The best canapes so far… Midlands UK.

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3:59pm Phil Coffey

Still on the bus. ‘What’s the real value of MIPIM?’ I ask. A fellow rider responds ‘Erm, I don’t really know’; from two rows behind someone retorts. ’Does anyone?’

There are several architects who will swear blind that they always return from MIPIM with six or seven 120-unit housing schemes signed up, stage one starting beginning of April, 5.75 per cent with a tight program and wonderful site on a cliff edge.

Don’t believe them. MIPIM does have these moments but they are few and far between. So why invest when the costs are so high?

Travel, accommodation, entry, exhibit, food and drink. It all adds up. Airbnb has been a boon, cheaper than hotels, but there are the now-common stories of delegates arriving to discover in ‘horreur’ not only that their apartment doesn’t exist but that any alternative accommodation south of Lyon under €1500 a night doesn’t either. Apparently you get what you pay for.

Into the fray. If you decide to enter the main event you need to pay the (Pied) Pipers. Not the people who induce others to join him or her through means of false or extravagant promise; no, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean the company that runs the London Stand. The London stand offers a base, especially if you have booked a spot, as Coffey Architects has again this year. You can get a fully wired-up, solitary 2m by 4m exhibit wall for a reasonably priced astronomical fee, which I believe must be heavily discounted otherwise they wouldn’t have the cheek to charge for the hire of a television on top. 

So now you have a stand, you need people to be there – a further cost, to talk to all the fire, structural and M&E engineers who are invested heavily in making themselves visible in Cannes. There are so many engineers parties to get to. Do they know something we don’t?

Breakfasts, brunches, lunches, linners, dinners, sinners, suppers are where the business of MIPIM is done. As an alternative to the expensive Cannes culinary establishments there are numerous gatherings for food, but architects’ parties are conspicuous by their absence. I imagine we are all in search of invites to as many posh beach buffets as possible to reduce the food bill. The MIPIM equivalent of Aldi. Not that I’ll be mentioning that to Herbert Smith when I’m enjoying free champagne on their yacht on Wednesday. To have a yacht at MIPIM. Now you’re really trying. Now you’ve made it. 

So have any architects, has ‘architecture’, actually made it at MIPIM? 

The costs are high but I do think it offers value at whatever level you choose to invest. Yes, including the very lovely Pipers stand.

Architects are often pigeon-holed, unable to shift scale or sector and have difficulty meeting new clients. In order to change perception and progress (if you want to) architects need to invest. MIPIM, the London tent, the wining and dining offers a condensed and intense opportunity to learn, change and reinforce people’s perception of your practice and the work you do. 

I have been here a number of times. It has been good for our practice and others, but I still feel that architecture is at the fringe of this festival when it should be front and centre. Things are changing with more practices investing heavily in the opportunity to promote themselves to the wider property industry and in doing so they also raise the long-term profile of architecture itself. 

Perhaps that’s where the true value of MIPIM could lie. I just don’t know if any of us have realised it yet.

3.35pm Steve Sanham

Landed at Nice this morning in blazing sunshine to the news that the Manchester pavilion on the sea front has been wiped out by a rogue wave. Hopefully not an omen! 

Colleagues delayed from Heathrow, which is a bit of a pain, but I will soon be in Cannes. I’ve got various meetings and events this afternoon once I’ve traded jeans for a suit. I’m particularly looking forward to a session on transport-led regeneration.

That’s a big part of what HUB does, diving into lower value areas that benefit from great transport links and delivering substantial schemes, designed beautifully while respecting existing communities. That means proper consultation and real and genuine engagement, which is the key to creating successful places in these newly ‘enabled’ areas. 

It will be interesting to see what the chatter is…

2:43pm Ada Yvars Bravo

Manchester gets my vote for the most resilient city… went to the Manchester Pavilion which was amazing but it got washed away with the tide yesterday and was moved to the Palais… but they did a fab job. Viva Manchester! (But my team is still Barcelona) … off to see Catalonia pav … Caxit (after Catalonia leaves Espania) … I’m going to ask the UK for advice.

2:31pm Hazel Rounding

The storms have subsided and the sun is shining … folk are back on the beach and the ever-alluring London terrace is drawing in the crowds. This is what MIPIM is all about … scheduled meetings and chance encounters under blue skies! We’re looking forward to heading to the London launch and enjoying cocktails with valued consultants at Arup later.

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2:30pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

I’ve packed my running gear, and am actually wearing my muddy trainers, just in case… in case I want to do a run or in case I want comfortable footwear? It was a snap decision at 4am so I’m not sure. I read an article at around this time last year which was all about how difficult it is to choose what to wear when the seasons are just changing – it really made me feel like someone else understood my dilemma this morning. Is it winter or is it spring, is it black tights and sturdy boots or bright colours and sandals? It turns out it’s both, in my case – eek!

With only four hours of sleep last night I’m already imagining being in a taxi at 10:30pm tonight. I’ll get over it. Next stop, MIPIM.

12:41pm Olaide Oboh

As I land in Cannes in anticipation of another three days of MIPIM, I can’t help but ponder on what an interesting few days this could be. With so much going on in real estate and politics, the industry needs to brace itself for change. 

As a Londoner, I know that change is one of the only constants; however the scale and speed of change on the horizon has the potential to be game-changing. Here are some examples that I am already starting to imagine and plan for: 

  • What will be the impact of the Elizabeth Line, due to open later this year? Will we start to see reverse commuting and the suburbs become the new place to be?
  • Will Brexit be hard, soft, sunny side up; and how will we do what we do in a post Brexit London?
  • Who will still be a London councillor on 4 May, and which new relationships will need to be established?
  • Will the London Plan bring the answers to some of the big questions that Londoners want from their homes and neighbourhoods?
  • Does England have a shot at winning the World Cup or will it be same old same old? 

As an optimist, I’ll take all my positive energy into this week at MIPIM advocating why we must embrace change and do what’s right to ensure London remains the best city in the world. 

It’s easy to be optimistic in sunny Cannes where I am sure there will be a buzz in the air and everyone will be keen to talk about the future of our cities. Let’s just hope we take this with us in a few days time as we embark home.

12:28pm Neil Deely

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Sorry for the delay in getting this blog piece to you this morning, but it seems that our digital infrastructure in the UK still isn’t up to that of our estranged neighbours in France. 3G and 4G signals were virtually non-existent when the Eurostar was stationary at Ashford, however, the on-board WiFi did raise to one bar when the train leant to the right in long corners. Now in France, I am enjoying five bars (signal strength silly) whilst speeding through rural France. However, it seems that back in the UK, whether it is housing supply or access to decent WiFi, so long as you get your excuses in early, all is normally forgiven. That isn’t by the way, any kind of reference to my attendance at MIPIM this year! 

Last year was my first year at MIPIM and although I attended with some apprehension of the horrors I might inadvertently witness, it was surprisingly enjoyable. The worst thing I saw was a couple of architects drinking wine on the London Stand at 11am in the morning! 

The highlight for me last year was an impromptu lunch on day one with Eric Parry and Paul Finch at Astoux et Brun on the Croisette. It was the most convivial meal and, having been somewhat disappointed by meeting so many heroes for the first time in the past, Eric did not disappoint. In fact, he has so many of the fine qualities that I believe architects should have but often don’t: modesty, humility, intellect and a genuine interest in others. A role model for any architect of any gender surely. Technically speaking, it transpired to be an all-male event, so I probably should have made my excuses and left. 

This year I am letting the train take the strain whilst my Metwork colleague and our Dublin studio leader Jonny McKenna is showing the Club Peloton ride (for Coram) how they can cycle in Ireland. Jonny’s last SMS from the saddle yesterday, after day five, said: ‘Haven’t got on the bus yet. Everything hurts’. Another modest hero – and the other really galling thing is that not only is Jonny a great architect and athlete, he gets to remain a European!

11:23am Steve Sanham

So here we are again, another MIPIM. I nearly got around to getting organised on Sunday – but didn’t so it was the usual night-before packing chaos. A flight down on Tuesday morning into Nice, then the run through the traffic to Cannes.

I’ve packed a rain mac and an extra pair of shoes this year – looks like it’s going to be soggy on Thursday. Before then a couple of days of sun, and for the UK contingent that’s of course part of the appeal of MIPIM, the first real sun of the year.

But that’s not why we go of course; it’s for the people and the connections. My diary is jam-packed as usual – a mixture of meetings with local authorities, contractors, investors and architects. And I’ll be speaking on the UK government’s stand on Wednesday afternoon on design quality. Come and say hello.

I do sense a funny sort of nervous anticipation hanging over the industry this year – there is an expectation that there will be a few journalists out there looking for a sequel story to the President’s Club expose.

It would be nice to think that as an industry we could behave ourselves for a few days. We shall see.

I’m joined this year by Robert Sloss and Tim Barlow from HUB, and our message is very much one of delivery; we’ve completed our first 750 homes as a business and have 1,750 more underway.

So we are hoping to have lots of inspired conversations this week about how we can bring our brand of community-centric development to a place near you. Our approach is centred on a belief in genuine and deep engagement with communities.

We think the industry needs to look again at the way it undertakes consultation and to think about property development as if people mattered. That’s the kind of conversation we will be having this week.

10:23am Bea Young

Wow, what an interesting place to be and so lovely in the sunshine. 

There are lots of men in suits, but there is also one dressed as Robin Hood outside the Midlands Stand! Been to my first panel discussion, on growth in the Midlands. All about global companies investing in the region. Apparently it’s one of the top three places for investment returns. 

Heard Denise Li, CEO of Chinese private equity firm PGC Capital, saying that sterling is one of the only global currencies that consistently rises and Chinese investors love that. So they will be focusing on investing in the West Midlands. 

It’s refreshing as a Londoner to see the rest of the UK so well represented; there’s a very positive whole-UK vibe here. I’m going to get round all of the other regional stands during the week if I can. 

Very welcoming atmosphere and great environment. Off to the government stand next!

10:19am Mark Middleton

Monday at MIPIM always has a slow start; the Palais is still being set up and there isn’t too much going on. That being said, the London First MIPIM landing event was a suitably confident start for proceedings. It gave the opportunity for those of us who are active in London to meet and talk with fellow London First members and more interestingly with local councils. I spoke at length with Bexley Council about their ambitious, impressive but very deliverable plans. Really interesting to have that face to face time with the business end of government and local policy.  

Perhaps the biggest shock of MIPIM this year is that Le Crillon, which has been rebranded as the Manchester bar for as long as I can remember. Is no longer going to be given its annual facelift. Despite the trauma, it obviously didn’t deter me going.  

Having a drink there proved a MIPIM maxim that it’s a great place to connect and catch up with a broad range of people. I managed to share some time with an old college friend Ricky Macdonald, a director at Keppie in Glasgow. He was pushing hard invites to his reception at Cafe Roma tomorrow. Everyone is invited it seems. I also met with fellow AJ blogger John McElgunn and the indomitable Paul Finch, who not only shared a few Glaswegian stories with Ricky but also a kiss with Lindsay Urquhart from Bespoke Careers. A tale of two Finchys if you like. Paul’s MIPIM seems to be off to a strong start.  

Tuesday is when it really gets going and for me. There are some great talks at the London stand, in particularly I am looking forward to the one about transport-related developments this morning. There are also a plethora of receptions today with most if not all of our engineering collaborators having some sort of reception. Not to mention the arrival of the Cycle to MIPIM where I will be looking out for Grimshaw’s very own Keith Brewis with well-deserved drink and a jar of soothing cream for his unmentionables. 

9:19am Ben Derbyshire

A record 28 RIBA chartered practices gathered on MIPIM opening night at our regular watering hole, La Maissouniere near station square in Cannes. The freshest among us had travelled by train, James Gorst arriving only slightly late directly from the station. The ‘Cannes Cannes’ contingent had taken a whole TGV carriage from Gare de Lyon, organised by Julie Fitzsimmons of Lodestar. This sounded like the way to go, except that after 10 years, they now have the 60 regulars they need. Maybe there is a waiting list? That’s not surprising, as Julie organises a hamper for everyone and samples from all the wine-growing regions en route. 

Stephen Hodder was among latecomers delayed at the Manchester launch because the normally palatial Manchester Stand had been washed away in yesterday’s strong south-easterly. Unabashed by this tragic start for his home city, Stephen was on top form, with projects all over the UK and proudly displaying images of his Stratford High Street project, nearing completion. But the smartphone image show-and-tell went to James Gorst for his almost complete family home in the Canadian Rockies for a wealthy venture capitalist. Venture capitalists like their architects talented and untried, explained James. No OJEU procurement problems there, then.

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On which subject, we start the week in a strange state of unknowing which none of us could have anticipated this time last year. Nothing is settled until it’s all settled, we are repeatedly told. So, unsettled about what Brexit holds we surely are. Except that there is a real esprit de corps among the RIBA MIPIM 2018 portfolio of practices and a sense that we should be out here creating the allegiances we will need for the future. Good to see Chris Williamson in our midst therefore, as affable and confident as ever. Emboldened by two major project wins in Australia, it’s great to have him on the case as international vice president at RIBA, working up a strategy for Europe and beyond.

8:24am Tamsie Thomson

The first night of MIPIM is always the best time to catch up with old friends before the rounds of meetings and networking begin in earnest. So last night saw dinner with the London Stand team, fresh from their Herculean logistics and raring to go. Useful to catch up with colleagues from the City of London and GLA too – both valued partners for the festival this year. Then off to see old friends and colleagues at the RIBA dinner. That’s now a fixture in the MIPIM calendar – I remember back in 2010 when we first brought six architects to MIPIM and since then it’s gone from strength to strength. It was great to see so many architects eager to make the most of the next few days. It’s important for the RIBA to be here – like us championing great architecture and supporting the profession. Speaking of which, this morning’s first job is to set up the LFA’s deckchairs on the beach – generously supported by our patrons and a lovely way to help us both promote the festival and offer a few moments’ respite amidst the madness. Off we go!

7:28am Andrew McMullan

I am on my way to the third largest airport in France.

I have always believed that one the greatest wishes that all frequent travellers such as myself have is the ability to teleport, in order to avoid the hassle of getting from A to B. Unfortunately at the time of writing, this is somewhat impossible, so the best one can do is to try to optimise travel times and make the journey enjoyable! 

For the most part, as airline passengers we are a captive audience. Yet even aside from the enforced internment of cancelled flights, we are spending longer in airports these days. And we expect more from them. Airports were once on the periphery of cities but their importance to urban life is increasingly central. In the past, cities have seen a financial district, government district or cultural district drive prosperity and change. Now it appears an airport city can be added as an important driving force. And just like a city, an airport needs to constantly fine-tune its infrastructure and embrace innovations to best serve their ‘residents’.

I’m looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the HOK team this afternoon, and entertaining some of our wonderful clients and friends at a lunch we are hosting. You will find me attending the London Stand’s opening reception, the Ramboll party, the Arup party and the Elliot Wood party. Is this even possible in one evening? Mental high-five for packing my personal teleportation device.

7:01am Jo Wright

After a hideously early start (any alarm before 5am in my book) and a loquacious but slightly distracted taxi driver who kept missing the sat-nav prompts on the winding cross-country route to the airport, I’m off to Cannes and – hopefully – a sunny day on the Croisette. I imagine those not heading to MIPIM from Bristol are wondering why the flight is 80 per cent full of men in their middle years in open-necked checked shirts and V-neck sweaters or blue suits and white shirts, trailing their short-break wheel-on bags. Diversity seems to be struggling in the property sector in the West with the ratio of women 1:10 at best – about the same as men in ties! 

7:00am Ben Cousins

Travelling this morning to Gatwick Airport and reflecting on last night’s talk by Mark Swenarton on ‘Cook’s Camden’ in the 70s and 80s. This was a really inspiring period of history in social housing with the likes of Neave Brown, Peter Tabori and Benson & Forsyth Architects producing some progressive social housing designs, which threw out the rule book with their low-rise, high-density mixed development designs achieving the same densities as the Corbusian-inspired high rise towers that came before.

Unfortunately today is a very different world, and that period of unshackled forward thinking is unlikely to be seen again, partly due to regulatory restrictions such as the DDA, but mainly due to cash-strapped local authorities and the way social housing needs to be procured in the 21st century.  

It’s therefore refreshing to see the likes of Croydon’s Brick by Brick, who will be at MIPIM, engaging with good design and instructing acclaimed architects to consider how social and low-cost housing can be implemented in a less utopian world.

Today at MIPIM I have the welcome party for the Club Peloton riders, plus darting between the Eckersley O’Callaghan and Elliot Wood parties followed by dinner with a project manager and developers. 

2:44am John McElgunn

Not much to report as I was in transit most of the afternoon on my way to Cannes. It was nice to see some familiar faces on the aeroplane as that made me feel a bit more comfortable about the MIPIM experience. Also nice to leave rainy London behind.  

Knowing people on the aeroplane reinforces what an unusual event this is. So many of our clients, consultants and colleagues make this same pilgrimage every year. ‘The Camino’ for the construction industry.

I got in late at about 23:00 so decided to have an early night and prepare for the week. After catching up on e-mails, a few rather dull papers that had to be digested and a chronic bout of cabin fever I elected to take a refreshing constitutional. 

I specifically did not want to go ‘at it’ too early this week so after a lovely serene walk along the harbour, I was delighted to return home for an early night. 

No high jinks were recorded. I did not meet more people at Le Crillon (thankfully not called ‘The Manchester bar’ this year) than I would ever possibly have known in any bar in London. I was not aware that Ma-Nolan’s ran out of Guinness in the early hours of the morning or that Morrisons actually close. 

‘No’, I thought! Save yourself for tomorrow.

Monday 12 March

11:26pm Ada Yvars Bravo

Badge City Model at Make It Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

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9.47pm Hazel Rounding

Day 01 of MIPIM week for shedkm… I’m there by proxy as the shedkm team is tag-teaming this year’s event… purely to maintain energy levels! How do those cyclists manage to brave days of networking after such a gruelling journey!? Today the models were arriving, finishing touches being added to the stands and storms whipping around the pavilions – I hear one such pavilion was pretty damaged, but am sure that Manchester will show great Northern spirit and host a great week of events despite this … and good luck to them! Over in the London pavilion, the RIBA stand is up and running with a launch dinner attended by my fellow director Alex Flint. Here’s to a good week with more sunshine and less showers!

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8.23pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

I’m a day behind everyone but a day ahead here at work. As usual I’m hoping to get a few conversations going in MIPIM about how developers should be including older people in their proposals. Really pleased this morning to see TWO articles in The Times about housing for older people, a sector close to my heart. Greg Hurst, social affairs editor: ‘There is a growing political recognition of the importance of housing designed for older people … Graham Parry, director of research at Grosvenor, said there would be a growing need for housing in cities to appeal to older people. His report says planners focus too much on new housing for working-age residents, especially aimed at younger people in cities, that allows developers to maximise returns with high density building.’

I don’t know Graham Parry but he is enlightened where others look at me blankly when I bring it up. This is such a hugely important issue and I’m delighted that this is getting featured in the broadsheets rather than languishing in the property pages…. may the debate continue and the good ideas keep flowing. I hope Sadiq Khan (is he going to be in MIPIM?) will read PRP’s response to the draft London Plan which at the moment says London is a ‘young city’ when in fact the older population is the fastest-growing demographic in London. 

Packing hasn’t started yet, but it’s ok, I am checking in a bag this year.

6.14pm Tamsie Thomson

I have packed my trunk and headed with the herd to MIPIM. But rather than following the herd this year, part of our job is to ensure that MIPIM 2018 looks and feels different. Our Elephant Campaign against inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour will be highly visible, and I’m hoping for a stampede of supporters after giving out our #seetheelephant badges from the London Stand. We’re also putting the finishing touches to a major new report into the state of London’s architecture sector, and I’ll be chairing sessions on Kingston and Nine Elms. 

Can’t wait to get started with it all. I can already sense a shared determination that this MIPIM will be different in many ways, and I’m proud that we’re part of that change.

3:21pm Mark Middleton

MIPIM has started for me, departing a rainy Heathrow this morning. By the look of the passengers accompanying me there was a good gender balance, more women than I’ve seen before. It was nice to say goodbye to the rain and land in the sunshine. My photos can attest to the transformation. 

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After stowing my stuff in a very expensive fourth-floor walk up apartment just off the Croisette, I am steeling myself for the first functions and my first blag. Off to the London First Landing reception for which I have an invite and then I’m going to try and get into the Manchester party. Be kind, burghers of Manchester and let me in. 

Great to be here, happy to have the sun on my face and I’m glad it’s about to begin. 

3:17pm Ada Yvars Bravo

Hola means hello in Espanish and Oulalala means very nice in French. At Nice airport but no buses go to MI PIN and taxi driver says he is lost.

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3:12pm Jo Negrini

In Cannes. Again. For some, MIPIM is a total junket, predicated on the view that all investment is bad for the city and that people who attend it spend their days drinking wine with their mates and their evenings with Russian oligarchs or other parasites at President’s Club-style events.

Yes, there is that side of MIPIM. But you can get that side of things in all environments where you mix men, booze and fat expense accounts. London is awash with these types of opportunities. You don’t need to go the south of France for it. Over the time I have been coming to MIPIM, there are more women involved (and the majority of men) who are coming for the same reason I am – to meet as many people and companies as possible to have a choice about who invests in their area. The alternative would be to sit in the office and wait for the next half-baked planning application from some dodgy fly-by-night investor who wants to get a consent and then flip it for the highest price. It’s about building relationships with the people you want to work with in your borough – the ones that help you deliver the type of development you want.

Ah yes, I should have said that these views are my own, I am a woman and I don’t have an expense account.

2:34pm Andrew McMullan

What lies 10 miles from London’s West End, seven miles from the City and just three miles from Canary Wharf? It’s London City Airport. Sadly my Swiss Air flight from this pocket-sized airport has been cancelled!

I waited patiently in line as customer after customer stood at the ‘shouting desk’ to hear the same song ‘No, no, I can’t do that, no, there are no flights available today, no, no, sorry, no’.

I’ve now booked onto tomorrow morning’s flight from London’s largest airport – Heathrow. Why does London have so many airports?

Very sad to be missing the Manchester opening reception this evening. My first MIPIM FoMO experience.

You will find me checking social media again and again and again so I don’t feel out of the loop. Like running around a digital hamster wheel.

1:13pm Carol MacBain

Departed Edinburgh Saturday on 6.30am flight to Lyon. Saturday and Sunday were spent in Dompierre Les Ormes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté – kindly hosted by Duncan Sutherland, Insider North West’s ’Residential Property Personality of the Year 2018 (tee hee!) As a MIPIM veteran I’m hoping Duncan will impart some much-needed knowledge on what to, and particularly what not to, attend…. if he can recall!

Wine was sampled over the weekend whilst watching the rugby. The first game didn’t end as we had hoped, but the result of the second game made up for it. We’re now on a TGV heading south to Cannes. I’m finding the offer somewhat different from Virgin East Coast, though we are currently experiencing signalling problems in Marseille which is more reminiscent of what we’re used to. We’ve just started moving again, so our friendly advice ’to try switching it off and switching it back on again’ seems to have worked.

Preparing notes for a couple of panel discussions – one on Wednesday morning on ‘Hospitals of the Future’ and a Property EU / Scottish Cities Alliance investment briefing on Thursday morning. 

Hoping the afternoons are a bit more relaxed – catching up with existing clients and making new contacts. Tuesday afternoon, I’ll definitely be checking up on whether John McElgunn retains structural stability after his relay. See you in Cannes.

12:06pm Ben Derbyshire

I have managed to find a window at Luton airport and have been catching up on fellow bloggers on the Club Peloton ride. The rain-swept apron may be a dismal sight but the going sounds really tough in the rain for the cyclists. My partner Sandy Morrison is nonetheless sketching our HTA team members (he’ll be painting my RIBA portrait so I’m glad he is keeping his hand in) and James Lord speculating about burning his bike! I look forward to greeting them when they arrive on Tuesday.

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Tonight the RIBA hosts a dinner for the record-breaking number of chartered practices who have signed up for our stand in the London tent. Last year the irrepressible Phil Coffey gatecrashed my ceremonial investiture in an orange plastic poncho. This year, as host, it seems to me there is a serious message about the future of international practice both for employees and for projects.

It’s one of the bizarre aspects of travelling all that way by whatever means that meetings seem so much easier to arrange in Cannes than in London. As we approach the crunch on Brexit we will be taking advantage of the Department of International Trade tent being right next door. We continue to lobby hard for freedom of movement, mutual recognition of qualifications and to permit ARB the freedom it needs to work with us on reform of architectural education.

Never has my MIPIM diary been so full – but somehow, never have the stakes seemed higher!

10:31am Ben Cousins

Preparations are now almost complete for my flight on Tuesday morning as I fly out to Marseille on a slightly convoluted and longer, but definitely cheaper, route to Cannes. I have packed my brolly and waterproofs as the forecast for Thursday looks dire! I’m hoping that the BBC is being overly cautious, and in fact the local microclimate of the Cote d’Azure will herald sun all week!

I will arrive on Tuesday afternoon just in time to welcome the arrival of the Club Peloton cyclists, who will have finished their epic journey from the rainy north to the sun of the south (finally). Today they are cycling their penultimate day from Valence to Aix-en-Provence across the most spectacular scenery of the Provence-Alpes, taking in the magical hilltop town of Bonnieux among others.

This is followed by one of best stages on the trip and a rare moment when the cyclists are allowed to break away from the lead car, and skill and nerves are tested to the max by the incredible hair-raising decent into the gorge towards Loumarin at speeds up to 70km/h, with hairpin bends and tight chicanes before the road evens out and the smell of burning break pads diminishes.

Thinking about the week, my diary is filling up with over 30 hours of networking booked. So I’m very much looking forward to catching up with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and making new contacts along the way.

08:07am Phil Coffey

The Cycle 2 MIPIM ride offers you time to think… but perhaps not quite in the way you’d have imagined. A day’s diary of thought.

  • Time to think you wish your room buddy didn’t snore
  • Time to think about feigning injury
  • Time to think that fruit, ham, porridge, syrup, tomatoes, torq energy gels, homemade flapjack and last night’s meringue do not belong on a breakfast plate. Together 
  • Time to think the weather forecast is pessimistic 
  • Time to think my waterproof layer isn’t required
  • Time to think it’s going to stay dry
  • Time to think I was wrong 
  • Time to think it can’t get any worse
  • Time to think will this rain ever stop
  • Time to think will we stay drier if we go faster and are out for a shorter period of time
  • Time to think am I pissing Matthew off by singing ‘Don’t let the sun go down on me’ by George Michael at 0630 as we aquaplane across northern France
  • Time to think this is quite dangerous
  • Time to think. Don’t think
  • Time to think about how to sabotage my own bike so I can get off the road and on the bus
  • Time to think in more detail ‘if I set fire to my bike do you think they’ll let me stop.’ James Lord, HTA
  • Time to think about how to acquire the upstairs bus front seat (with leg room)
  • Time to think why did I train so hard to go sit on a bus
  • Time to think there are a lot of people on this bus 
  • Time to think drawing is underrated as Sandy Morrison of HTA sketches Alex Ely. Beautifully
  • Time to think why am I still eating six chocolate bars, three Red Bulls and a large ham and cheese baguette every hour when I’m in a reclined, sedentary position
  • Time to think about getting ready for the next stage
  • Time to think I’m going to make it
  • Time to think I’m thinking but by body is not responding 
  • Missed the start. More time to think again
  • Time to think of that first drink 
  • Time to think at dinner ‘I’m so tired I can barely spin my spaghetti onto this spoon how on earth am I going to cut my medium steak in MIPIM’ Simon Bayliss,  HTA
  • Time to think why am I spending so much time with HTA?
  • Time to think housing
  • Time to think why the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has handed back £817m of its budget for 2017-18 to the Treasury
  • Time to think bloody stupid
  • Time to think bigger
  • Time to think better
  • Time to think bed
  • Time to think blog
  • Time to think you wish your room buddy didn’t snore

Sunday 11 March

8:25pm Ada Yvars Bravo

We will need extra luggage to go and to come back…we never manage to get rid of the brochures.

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10:03am Donna Macfadyen

There are some seriously fit people on this ride! I’m just about hanging on and loving every minute! Started at 6am with 55km in the dark and in the rain. It’s really thrilling everyone being together in a tight bunch, powering away, lit only by bike lights. Cycling across French open countryside as the sun came up was just gorgeous.

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I’m picking up lots of good MIPIM advice (it will be my first my time there), what parties to go to, what hotel bars to avoid… discussion on the scarcity of women at the event – lots of people here have female colleagues who now refuse to attend because of the atmosphere. I’ll have to wait to see what the actual MIPIM event is like, but the guys on the ride are all great! Everyone has been so nice and so encouraging. There are five women on our Portsmouth route and about 90 men, so lots of big-shouldered blokes to cycle behind and use as a wind break, and occasionally get a bit of a push from! Three more days to go!

Saturday 10 March

5:54pm Ada Yvars Bravo

After the demonstration in Barcelona getting ready for MIPIM.

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Flying the flag for the PINK elephant campaign #SeeTheElephant. Here is my daughter’s Sanda’s version.  

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Friday 9 March

8:05pm Ben Cousins

Further thoughts for next week’s MIPIM in a post-Weinstein world and following the President’s Club scandal. I’ll be supporting Tamsie Thomson’s London Festival of Architecture #seetheelephant campaign which seeks to highlight that women within our industry are routinely experiencing unwanted approaches and inappropriate behaviour.

I am father to three daughters so the thought of empowering women at such a male-dominated event is paramount and is a great idea. The LFA is about to launch important new research in partnership with the GLA which will include diversity within the profession, and will show figures – which will be released in full at MIPIM – that will indicate women architect jobs in London total just 37 per cent. This is a far cry from the near parity that exists at university, and has to change.

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Also looking forward to catching up with Peter Murray, who I have cycled with to MIPIM and last year as part of the LFA I cycled with him on Velosophy ‘bikes that change lives’ in his ‘Concours d’Elegance’ to raise awareness of their pledge to donate a bike to a girl in Ghana for every bike they sell.

This small token empowers women – and girls increase attendance in school by almost 30 per cent, and their results by nearly 60 per cent when they have access to a bike of their own. And according to Plan UK – an extra year of education increases a girl’s income by 10 to 20 per cent and is a significant step on the road to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Carrying on with the bike theme for my next blog, I will be catching up with the riders cycling to Cannes ‘HASHTAG’: missingtherideatinybit. Hope the riders are doing well! #PedalPower

5.23pm John McElgunn

March has rolled around surprisingly quickly this year and therefore it is time for MIPIM. The packing is done and the diary is suitably filled. Plenty of meetings in place, some with existing clients and consultants and a few new introductions too which is great. Last year I think I put too much in the diary in advance of the trip and so this year my mornings are busy and booked in advance, but the afternoons are a bit more relaxed so that I can go with the flow.

John mc mipim packing

The first big endurance challenge is on Tuesday afternoon. I am looking forward to running the engineers party relay race. It seems most of the engineering parties are taking place at roughly the same time, so I will be attempting to do the big four of Mott MacDonald, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Ramboll and Elliot Woods and still remain structurally intact. Thankfully the Coffey cocktails don’t start until Wednesday so I stand half a chance of making it to the finish line.

The rain is running down the side of the Cheesegrater as I write this so I am looking forward to a bit of sunshine in the south of France.

4.41pm Phil Coffey

I just waved off the peloton. It’s 0600 in Calais. 137km completed yesterday and an awful lot more to come. Opting for the warm, welcoming bus on the first stage of day two on the Cycle to MIPIM ensures that you are under no personal illusion that you can complete the entire ride, the perfect trip.

As I look out the bus window, I see three women leading the group… but this year there are far fewer women on the ride than usual. Peddelle, a splinter group for females has likely shuffled the numbers, but is there something deeper at work? Is this MIPIM less about winning business and more about how we, as an industry, do business?

Our studio’s head of communications and engagement, Margaret Ravenscroft, recently wrote a great piece on how ‘not to be a pervert’ at MIPIM, in chime with the #MeToo movement that has thankfully started to rebalance attitudes and language. Related, there has been talk on the ride that a number of the usual delegates will not be in Cannes this week for fear of being caught, as somebody described to me, ‘…in the wrong kind of situation’.

Phil coffey cycle to mipim

It is true that Cannes has its distasteful moments; it is also true that the construction industry is very heavily male dominated. This combination can and has led to situations that are uncomfortable and sometimes far worse for women who attend these events. In many ways, MIPIM is the concentration, the microcosm of the professional world in which we live. We should all try a lot harder to ensure we do not create an atmosphere of uncomfortable ‘difference’ at any industry event; of course one would hope that this would be our natural position, but it is clear it is not.

MIPIM is a place where business can take place in a more casual atmosphere, and most human interaction is better when there is diversity. I have personally always found MIPIM enjoyable and good for business, and I have always attended with my wife… who shares with me some of the less ingratiating moments of MIPIM that may prevent people from attending.

But by not going, are we not retreating from actually addressing the situation? Should we not be on the front foot, attending and making a difference? For sure if you are worried about being caught in the wrong kind of situation, then stay away, because maybe you were the problem in the first place. But for the rest of us who attend, we need to make MIPIM a place that reinforces gender balance, welcomes diversity, creates a more equitable construction industry and allows both men and women to interact comfortably in casual and business surroundings.

I will not be completing the perfect cycle… and I am sure that MIPIM won’t be perfect either, but I will be here enjoying the company of many men and women trying their best to make these events the fun, social, networking events that they should be – for everyone who attends.

See you in Cannes.

4.24pm Anne-Marie Nicholson

It’s Friday afternoon and in four days’ time I will be landing at Nice airport and hoping the hotel booking that I made last year is still valid. I’ve just found out that we have no water at home, thanks to Thames Water, so this weekend is going to be interesting with three kids, a dog and a 50th birthday party to go to (happy birthday, Jenny!).

Not wanting to complain, but there is a flurry of activity today (odd for a Friday) in terms of new enquiries which are making me wonder whether I do need to be in France for three days. I’m armed with a schedule that requires me to split myself into at least three parts or be an Olympic sprinter. The momentum is definitely building, and I can’t believe that people are now asking me to give advice on what to do at MIPIM when after five years’ attendance I still feel like a newbie myself.

The only advice I have followed is to maintain my energy levels, sleep opportunities, Wi-Fi access and hydration (both types!) This year I have also insisted on having my own room, getting a bit like a prima donna but energy levels wane when your sleep is broken by the levels of ‘sharing’ I’ve had to do in the past.

I really can’t wait to experience the vibe over on the London Stand, but also check out the other international stands which can sometimes make our homeland exhibitions seem quite basic. If you are showcasing an entire city, then it stands to reason what you’re exhibiting should be impressive!

2:31pm Andrew McMullan

I’m looking forward to my first pilgrimage to Cannes next week, armed with a diary full of appointments with emerging superstar cities and influential developers. I’ve received plenty of tips on how best to approach MIPIM – but they say that there is no experience like experience!

The central theme for MIPIM 2018 is ‘mapping world urbanity’. Climate armageddon, mass migration, Brexit, the fall of nation states… economic and geopolitical trends are reshaping our lives and cities. However, the challenges of today can blind us to the opportunities of tomorrow. How can envisaging possible futures inspire us to build the cities and world we want?

I’m eager to explore this question next week, whilst cementing potential opportunities with cocktails and canapés!

10:40am Hazel Rounding

So, with MIPIM looming, the thought of that crazy intensity is usually balanced by the thought of the sun on one’s face, sipping a drink on the London terrace. But looking at this it seems we might be in for a tricky week. Help!

Hazel rounding mipim 9 march

10:01 Ben Derbyshire

The journey begins. This year I will once again attempt to defy the extraordinarily disjointed infrastructure on arrival at the Cote d’Azure. From Nice airport most people head for the taxi rank and a 100 Euro ride to Cannes. Alternatively, by way of the airport car parks, a multilevel intersection and a motorway underpass, there is Nice St Augustin station. Last year I arrived before the ticket office had opened and the vending machines appeared only to dispense season tickets. Neither are the trains all that frequent. But it is a six Euro ride that gets you to Cannes station and a five-minute walk to my habitual AirBnB. So I plan to give it another go. #ChangeIsNecessary

8:25am Ben Cousins

As the excitement and anticipation builds around the start of MIPIM on Monday, I spare a thought for the 180 Club Peloton cyclists who have headed off from London and Leeds this week on their annual pilgrimage to Cannes for the extremely gruelling six-day 1,500km ride across France to join the event. The ride includes some of the most challenging and exhilarating cycling that many of the riders will ever encounter, all fully supported by the excellent crew and flanked by a half dozen motorcycle outriders who close the roads ahead as the peloton rolls its way across France.

This is the first year I haven’t cycled down due to a knee injury, and other than the application of chamois cream, I’m already missing the camaraderie, self-fulfilment and networking opportunities that the ride has to offer. I’m also looking forward to catching up on the Croisette with fellow bloggers Joe Morris and Phil Coffey, and other architects riding including Chris Dyson, Matt Thornley, Timo Haedrich to name but a few.

Last year’s cycle ride raised over £500k for Coram children’s charity, so I hope this year’s event at least matches that incredible figure to support a very worthwhile cause.

Here’s also hoping the weather gods will be kind with a tailwind and sunshine as they head south on day day with a less-than-favourable forecast for the remainder of the trip. 

We shall also find out next week if the changeable forecast for the cycle ride is in fact some kind of bellwether for the week ahead in Cannes, as we all gather to exchange notes, network and discuss the state of the UK property and construction industry in these uncertain times.

7:07am Tamsyn Curley

MIPIM 2018 for me is off to a good start already. We cheered on the Club Peloton C2C riders as they set off from St Giles to Cannes yesterday morning. Excitement, energy and enthusiasm were in abundance; just spending time with everyone was a great way to kickstart the energy levels required for a full-on week in Cannes! Yesterday morning’s experience was a very large dose of infectious camaraderie.

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The teams were full of nervous energy and excitement, all in great spirits and ready for a challenge together, in support of the excellent Coram children’s charity. This year’s ride totalled 190 riders in two groups heading to Cannes via separate routes – apparently they cross paths on day five, that’ll be a lot of fun! Have a brilliant ride, lovely lot. 

Thursday 8 March

11:28pm Donna Macfadyen

Things got off to a dramatic start when at 7:30am I arrived at the start line to be told that my bike, that I’d dropped off the night before, was in trouble. A serious-looking mechanic informed me that my gear shifters we’re not merely stiff, but actually broken. Disaster. A last ditch attempt with some silicone spray has seemed to fix it them for now, but it will need regular monitoring and I might need to change to a spare bike as the ride progresses.

My ride got off to a dignified start with me having to cut myself out of my pants at the first five-minute coffee stop. With no time to take off shoes and leggings, and chaffing already a serious issue, there was nothing for it but to attack the waist band with scissors and whip them out like a cartoon character! I now believe everyone who said not to wear underwear with cycle shorts. Generally the day has been pretty knackering, some excellent chat and morale boosting from my team, it was great to ride together as a 100-strong peloton. We are all safely on the ferry – bring on tomorrow. If you would like to sponsor me, click here!

Donna macfadtyen 8 march cycle

Donna macfadtyen 8 march cycle

9:41pm Jo Wright

I’m heading to MIPIM with the usual mixture of excitement and trepidation – as ever there is a schedule bursting at the seams with topics I’d love to learn more about, a great array of speakers and a panoply of people I’d love to catch up with. I’m bracing myself for an intense three days of stimulating conversations, early starts and late, late nights, with that constant lurking FoMO that sends me off in search of just one last ‘conversation’ at 2am.

There are some great topics up for debate – liveable cities, urbanisation in Africa, the value of biodiversity, the circular economy and the inevitable (or is it?) Brexit. But this year’s overarching theme, if my diary is anything to go by, is the proliferation of women’s events – at times I’m double-booked for ladies-only breakfasts, lunches and suppers. The post-President’s Club remorse has hit hard – too hard perhaps? As one of the founder members of the Equilibrium Network, which has a mission to address the under-representation of women at senior level within the built environment, I’m all for trumpeting the amazing achievements of women in property, but the pendulum may have swung too far. Diversity is about seeing the industry reflecting society as a whole, rather than gender segregation – wasn’t that, after all, part of the President’s Club downfall?

I’m panicking about what to pack – it looks likely to be back to 2016 conditions and I remember feeling cold and miserable for much of the time!

I wish I could get to the Chicks with Bricks dinner (men also welcome!) on Thursday where my good friend Pam Alexander will be talking about her brilliant career – but sadly I’m heading home.

Animation and illustration by Huiyan Wang

 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • My god, are these people for real?

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  • Of course they are - it's raining.

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  • Sorry, only had a brief look, but my impression is; travelling from London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, ............, to Cannes, to meet, talk, socialise with people from London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, ............. But my impression is probably totally wrong.

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  • Indeed Mr Bruns. No need at all to take all that time off work and travel abroad just for the sake of a good piss-up.

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