Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

MIPIM 2019: The AJ Blog

Our MIPIM blogging team share their insight (and some gossip) from the property industry’s annual gathering at Cannes

Friday 15 March

17:25 Leo Pemberton

Now that MIPIM 2019 has closed its doors, I can sit back and reflect on what my main takeaways were. The mood was upbeat and positive — fuelled by sunshine and alcohol — but much as I tried to avoid the Brexit chat, the political chaos back in London dominated. Bespoke Careers being a recruitment company, we deal directly with architects and designers, and we can definitely sense their frustration. Most people I talked to cited longer pauses on projects and decisions being held off until there is clarity, with many acknowledging that it could be ‘all systems go’ within weeks.

Conversations changed by the hour as we kept up with rolling news feeds of events in parliament, knowing that they could directly affect the very projects that we were discussing and particularly for us, any further hiring/resourcing requirements for the coming months. ‘Uncertainty’ has been a key word for the last three years of MIPIM, and it is most certainly still an overarching theme.

On another note, with last year’s emphasis on attendee conduct, I was not the only one to notice the apparent return of ‘glamour girls’ at events and the questionable behaviour on display at some of the more ostentatious events. Better female representation was evident, but I can’t help feeling that there is still a long way to go on this. 

13:42 Mark Shaw

Yesterday was probably the busiest and best day at MIPIM. Again a micro-network came into play as I was invited to lunch by a contact I met on a networking skiing week in January. I sat between two developers, and so it demonstrates how one small networking opportunity can lead to another. I then met a potential client for a drink, and being part of the RIBA on the London stand gives you a home and a natural place to meet people; it is also really friendly and the sunny terrace is sociable and relaxed. My potential client was explaining that only the London terrace is like this, other countries are not so jolly and drink less alcohol.  

13:06 Tania Love

Essential to understanding the DNA of any town or city is visiting the local food market, so yesterday began with a mooch through Marché Forville, heaped with Provençale produce and bustling with business.

Quick scoot past that beautiful bandstand (my favourite structure in Cannes) and the boules pitches, which sacré bleu, had been hijacked by suits indulging in a bit of competitive socialising with their petit déjeuner.

Walked past I ROCK, THUMPER, SUPERTOY and all the other floating gin palaces to check out how they look in the daytime. A number of our clients have made motor yachts their offices for the week; it’s an integral part of the fabric of MIPIM. As are the parties on them at night. I’ve enjoyed a few of those this week!

On to the Newcastle stand for a session on the state of the retail market with Mark Robinson of Ellandi, Ed Cooke of Revo, Stephen Patterson of NE1 BID and Michelle Percy of Newcastle City Council. The consensus is that the mass/middle market is continuing to be squeezed in an ongoing polarisation between destination/experiential retail and convenience/amenity shopping.

Headed into the bunker to go learn how to ’engage with the future; re-enchant the city’ (with new leisure concepts). It was an all-male panel and chair, so seeing as how they were clearly disengaged with the present, I disengaged too and left.

Next up was Jean Nouvel and Alex Allard talking (in French) about their mahoosive development in that monster of a metropolis that is São Paulo. They are taking over a former hospital to create their own resi/hotel/retail/leisure metropolis with Philippe Starck and others. Not sure if the translator was translating or going off-piste, but she said this was ’an amusement park without amusement’. How drôle. Interesting scheme.

Over to the Midlands pavilion to hear about some peaky blinding regeneration proposals led by screen-writer Steven Knight for Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham. Look up Casey Bailey and prepare to be properly blown away by his BRAPping. ’Be sure that the middle is the finish and the start.’ I should have applied that to my blogging efforts. Brevity not my forte.

Ma Nolan’s with Revo buddies for some live music courtesy of WSP. And then up into the hills for some 5* escapism with Small Back Room and friends. Get this: John Rushton has been at every MIPIM in its 30-year history (and MAPIC bar one). He had a special audience with Ban Ki-moon to celebrate this! And we had a special dinner to do the same. The six of us howled with laughter Peter Cook and Dudley Moore-style all evening; such a happy occasion. Thanks so much for having me!

Anyway, must dash. Got an appointment with Mr Bloxham at Maison Bulle. How lucky am I?!

…that’s if we get there… 

Img 20190315 wa0000

Img 20190315 wa0000

10:57 Ben Derbyshire

Just about wrapped up the last day. I fly today – sadly too early to make Tom Bloxham’s party. But we meet with Tom and Urban Splash partner Jonathan Falkingham in the Manchester stand to discuss ways that we might stimulate more patronage for modern methods of construction from government, and hatch a plot to work together with Mark Farmer and others to make progress outside London. There is plenty of appetite for this. Cities and city regions are cottoning on to the potential for mapping their industrial and economic development strategies on to the need for local design and production to meet housing need in innovative ways. The idea came up in discussions with Sheffield, West Midlands and Liverpool as well as Manchester.

The amazing thing about this patently absurd mass migration to the Côte d’Azur, is that it’s possible to have meetings or make presentations, as I have done today, in all these regional cities in one afternoon as all the key players from each are on stands or in marquees a minute or so away from each other. And everyone is here for the sole purpose of meetings, so they are both in close proximity and generally available. And then there are the serendipitous encounters in between.

My parting thought is that this fruitful juxtaposition deserves better planning and design. I’ve told my RIBA colleagues that we should bring the UK cities together into a coherent masterplan for which we should hold a competition. At the centre of the plan should be the Department of International Trade which could be the subject of a design competition all of its own. Manchester has shown the way: if you want to sell high quality development, you have to sell it in a high-quality environment. Just ask Tom Bloxham.

10:34 Ada Yvars Bravo

Today I decided to play it cool. Instead of looking for leads I let leads look for me. I waited until midday outside sun-drenched Manchester (not often you can say that) all dolled up, MYAA booklet and Mi pin in hand hoping to catch the attention of a filthy rich carefree philanthropic Buddhist developer. Then as if by magic out pops Robin Hood from East Midlands.

Went to Newcastle in desperation but could not understand too much so I talked to Siri. St Gordie is the patron Saint of Catalunya but its also a language. Heard Ellandi talked about the future of shopping, low cost and premium retail v the high street concluding that data driven retail, placemaking and flexibility.

Maybe there is another conclusion: there will be no shops in future, just hopes and desires paid for in Bitcoin, delivered by AI direct to our brains cutting out the middle man (shops) so that we can release mixed use co-working communitarian cultural placemaking retail therapy endorphins. 

We’ve done a lot of research on the future of retail but the final frontier must be Google’s Deep Mind.

Took at look at Quintains Wembley and asked why all the buildings looked the same. No answer but it’s all for rent – the biggest build to rent in the UK since Lonestars acquisition.

Ali (Mangera) is not a fan of biscuit architecture and he asked the happy chappies at the Sheffield stand what placemaking means when all places look the same surrounded by a morass of developer-friendly bricky stuff. Brexit means Brick sets? It seems we are all doomed to live in the 1950s as the Brits just don’t get all that continental architecture, they do in some of the great cities of old Europe.

I saw Jean Nouvel talk on his wooden residential tower Matarazo in San Paulo with an envelope of plants and wooden screens – quite spectacular. We are working on a site next to Atelier Jean Nouvel creating an Art District so hope to catch the same vibe.

Then I met some powerhouses from Africa eating sushi and feeling a bit like Maria Antoinette. How can architecture save newly emerging mega cities from the weight of their own expectations? Having worked in emerging nations in Africa and Asia, it seems MIPIM will pass them by like a spring breeze over La Croisette. 

10:34 Steve Sanham

Although MIPIM was more of a pit stop for me this year, I managed to spend a whole load of time with the lovely people at London Borough of Croydon. Launching ‘Queen’s Quarter’, the new identity for our Taberner House development with them on Wednesday was ace, and it was great to see so much interest in the borough at their brunch yesterday. 

Spent Thursday hurtling between meetings, starting with a really sparky conversation with the West Midlands Combined Authority (a huge opportunity there for creative developers like HUB, in my opinion), then bouncing between meetings with local authorities, housing associations, banks and architects. It’s a veritable property soup out here, and that’s why it works. It was also great to catch up with friends at Whitby Wood, Gort Scott, AHMM, dRMM and shedkm (sorry if I missed anyone out). 

It’s been a short MIPIM for me, but as ever a great barometer for the success of HUB as a business. Lots of positivity despite the madness back home. Lots of people telling us we’re doing the right thing, with the right people. Same time next year Cannes -– look forward to it.

9:43 Paul Finch

Each day at MIPIM, I comb the pages of the daily MIPIM News to find the occasional story and the occasional laugh. I use the material at what has become an annual closer on the London Stand, ‘Canned Laughter’.

Some of the material that caught my eye this year:

‘UK office and industrial property the most expensive in Europe’. Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

History headline of the week: ‘Istanbul Chamber of Commerce promotes 8,500-year-old brand’

Quote: ‘Greece is now one of the hottest investment destinations in Europe’. 35 degrees and rising!

Ambiguous headline of the week: ‘Our economy is steaming, Quebec tells global market’

My déjà vu award goes to: ‘Government agency says UK needs to go further to solve housing crisis’.

Not surprisingly, therefore, another story: ‘Demand up for private rental in the UK’

An example to us all, therefore, was this information from Egypt: ‘Social programmes for low-income housing are being built at the rate of 350,000 units a year; middle-income homes at 300,000.’ Get their delivery gurus over to London!

Ambition of the year came from 3XN’s Kim Nielsen, talking about his designs for the IOC headquarters in Lausanne: ‘We didn’t want to be ostentatious, but we had to be iconic’!

Quote of the week came from Bank Ki-Moon, UN secretary-general, talking about climate change and the need to take urgent action: ‘There is no Plan B, because there is no Planet B.’

What a pity Sadiq Khan wasn’t there to hear any of this. London may be open for business, but who is minding the shop?

9:28 Carol MacBain

Au revoir MIPIM 2019. It’s been fun but now time to depart. Back to the grey skies of Edinburgh … ah no, off to Portugal for some R&R after three days of meetings, greetings and indulgence. 



9:18 Francesca Pintus

With still one last meeting to go, and my suitcase half packed, I start assessing my first experience of MIPIM. 

This is what I’ve been thinking: As architects we are obsessed with the idea that we must also be presenters to whomever we meet. And even though images are the main and most effective way to communicate our work, what I found refreshing at MIPIM is the fact that people are interested in simply talking to you.

Personal relationships are something that as designers we often undermine. On the contrary, I believe that when someone is as invested in you as they are in your design, things will truly fly. Having said so, socialising and making an effort to sound remotely smart and interesting for 12-15 hours a day is truly exhausting. 

Therefore au revoir et merci beaucoup, MIPIM. After this social interaction overexposure I will gladly go back to my cave.

8:11 Angela Dapper

I finished Thursday at the London First closing drinks on Arup’s yacht watching the sunset. Although MIPIM be hard work, these moments compensate. Then off to my final event, the Chicks with Bricks gala, which was a fabulous night with a great mix of people across the industry. Everyone was relaxed, and networking just became socialising. Well done to Holly Porter for organising such a great event. 

Over the week our Grimshaw MIPIM team has been networking hard, putting in long hours and drinking a few glasses of rosé on the beach. Between the four of us we have had around 25 meetings, two pitches, 32 events, three roundtable discussions and 1one panel event.  

This week has definitely been fun but hard work, and I would consider it a success for team Grimshaw.  

Team grimshaw

Team grimshaw

The Grimshaw MIPIM team: Angela Dapper, Katie Murphy, Annelie Kvick Thompson and Kirsten Lees 

1:45 Kieren Majhail

So it sounds like everyone generally had a more relaxed day on Thursday and I thought my day would be less intense. However, as you may tell from my non-existent blogging, I ended up being quite busy, but I do love that! 

As it was the last day of MIPM, I wanted to make sure I checked out most of the stands (well at least the UK stands). I made sure I went to some of the main auditorium MIPIM talks, which were very informative, great to learn from other countries. Took in a few Midlands UK events on cities, and popped over to the Manchester stand for the Manchester International Festival event where the Factory building was showcased. Finished the day off at a very famous restaurant (Mamo Michelangelo) in Antibes, courtesy of Gary Jackson DeTrafford, thank you!

So just a few tips/comments:

  • For the vegans, there is a very nice restaurant/café called Maison Charlotte Busset; wish I found it earlier.
  • My favourite stand (other than the Midlands of course!) was the Manchester stand.
  • Even though you might be a first-timer, after one day you won’t feel like a first timer if you immerse yourself into it.
  • Keep your ears open and don’t be afraid to talk to people
  • The best tea is at the UK pavilion, served in proper cups and saucers!
  • The best toilets are tucked away behind the Manchester stand!

Vegan menu

That’s it from me, back to the cold and grey Midlands! 

Thursday 14 March

19:15 Sasha Bhavan

Looking back what were the MIPIM highlights? For me, Daniel Libeskind was in another league. Belfast invited him to speak about how cities can and do change radically and suddenly, given a compelling catalyst. There was a palpable air of excitement and energy about his talk not found elsewhere. Intellectual argument coupled with passion is a great combination. More please. 

We went to some great parties @priceandmyers @hta , made new and met old friends – always a treat. The cutaway model of our Buddhist temple seemed to go down well too

19:03 Anne-Marie Nicholson

My health and wellbeing and definitely my happiness were very well cared for at the Iceni/KDH Associates pool party.  It was a party around the pool (not in the pool).  I met Richard McCarthy from Scott Brownrigg and reminisced about working together on the Kidbrooke regeneration project many years ago and how life with three children was panning out. Richard is quite an international jet setter now and business is booming. Kirsty from KDH came over and we talked about the lovely Andy Black our planning director and all his musical talents. Next year Kirsty you need to book him as your musician!

Today I was very aware of the toll MIPIM partying was taking on all the attendees with overheard conversations of 4am and 6am bedtimes and excruciating headaches but soldiering on with virgin bloody marys. It isn’t a requirement of MIPIM to party hard and less is said by the fresh-faced committed networkers who dash to everything and sleep deeply. I think I fall into the middle.  I’ve said before that energy management is my main driver and this is how I manage being a full-time working single mum of three, I can party – occasionally too hard – but an early night is not to be shunned.

Among the planners, engineers, landscape architects and architects, I’ve learned that many firms are really focusing on quality of life for their employees and tackling diversity, mental health issues and flexible working in a really interesting way. I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder but listen out for things coming from Ramboll and have a look at what it’s like to work for Iceni.

My takeaways so far:

  • Collaboration is king
  • People you know, you get to know better
  • It’s easy in MIPIM to get to know people you don’t know
  • Time is on your side as is the relaxed atmosphere
  • London stand is the victim of it’s own success, it’s too small!
  • Housing is top of the agenda this year…but nothing about our older population sadly
  • PRP team are awesome, thanks for a great MIPIM

18:41 Tarek Merlin

It has been a great few days. And actually, it must be said, a much friendlier, warmer, MIPIM than I was angsting about. Everyone has been great, lots of smiles and a shared understanding of the odd thing that it is we are all doing here.  

Great dinner last night with AST Architects up in the hills. Fantastic ‘peak MIPIM’ lunch today on the beach with Eb7 (sun hats provided by the restaurant), while juggling urgent work phone calls. Dinner tonight with arguably the friendliest QS in the business, Colin Hayward. 

17:37 Francesca Pintus

A few weeks ago, I was travelling for work when I found myself in an en-suite bathroom as big as my flat in London. When trying to engage with one of the (merciless) vanity mirrors that you’d find fixed to the wall, I found myself on my tip-toes, barely being able to see my own forehead. Half disappointed, half relieved, I thought there could only be one plausible explanation: that bathroom had been designed by a man. 

I had forgotten about the whole occasion until this morning, when at a diversity panel discussion at the London stand, Raj Kotecha reflected on the fact that ‘we can’t possibly design buildings and cities for a diverse community, if we don’t have diverse professional teams’. As an average-height woman, I am with you Raj.

15:44 Sasha Bhavan

@mipimladies in the sunshine this year. Meeting some great women with many and varied skills. Journalists, mediators, lawyers, property managers and old friends from the RIBA. Fiona Miller mega organiser as ever. Worth a follow on Instagram. 

15:39 Angela Dapper

Today seems more relaxed and there are definitely less people around. I have no B2B meetings or pitches today, but a day of learning and sharing information. First up the discussion around technology and the future of cities with Mott MacDonald and our managing partner, Kirsten Lees, in the Newcastle stand. Followed by my roundtable discussion about the future of Oslo beyond cars – it was really inspirational and refreshing to see a city led by sustainability and a focus on people, supported by government investment.



Finally I caught Jean Nouvel’s keynote about his new Brazilian project. It was in French and I am not sure the translation was correct, but I think I heard him talking about the French having parsley up their noses and about patrimonial design. I have no idea what either means but the project was lovely.

15:04 Carol MacBain

46,645 steps and counting on day three. While recharging (people watching) for a bit this afternoon I noticed it seems slightly more relaxed in the MIPIM bubble today. Chaos reigns at home, but here the pace has slowed and the ‘suits’ have thinned out a bit. The talk has moved on to what’s been achieved, new connections made and prospects to follow up on. And just when everyone has recovered from bumpy landings at the beginning of the week, the wind is picking up again…

14:36 Simon Allford

Yesterday was fraught. Not with intense meetings but with the strange MIPIM condition of continuously walking past people on the phone, nodding and saying how much you would like to talk, and then continuing on your opposite ways. And you would like to talk. But there is rarely the time, as each of us heads somewhere else operating on MIPIM time: time which involves the sequential missing and making of meetings.

It is a strange condition. Not least because, at the rendezvous that you do make – be they at the London stand, the Croisette or in the side streets – you seek to have a different conversation to the one you are currently having in London and ever increasingly around the world. Nevertheless, these conversations are usually with people with whom you are already very engaged in a collaboration of one sort or another on a project of one sort or another.

The sun helps make a different conversation, as does the drink and the food. Which is why ‘Roger Zogolovitch’s Relaxing Lunch’ is not to be missed. For it is a lunch where you are familiar with the restaurant, the fruits de mer feast, you know almost everyone and get to know the new faces. In this case familiarity breads content (apologies again to Roger for my unfeasibly late arrival – I took the title of his invite too literally!)

I only go to MIPIM for two lunches and two dinners. So it is not too stressful. But, as well as enjoying the chance and the organised encounters, I also end up sending texts of genuine regret to those I nodded to but missed. And joining dinners I would like to make but only for a starter!

So I leave this year with a slightly but thankfully not too heavy head. My smart move was to enjoy UrbanNest’s dinner for friend and foe (stylishly celebrating the efforts of a failed design submission) but, towards the end, to defy their hospitality by leaving my glass almost full. And afterwards, in some far-off semi-salubrious night club, to avoid the din of the dance floor and consume (small glasses only) of neat vodka, generously provided by Nick Lane and the team at Point 2. Championship football, life and my temporary home in the old town were the focus of a long conversation. 

The latter was perhaps the most relevant to this blog. For our expensive home for the week had windows but only at first floor and above, and then only to the stone stairs that spiralled magnificently to capture and block the light. This ancient design left basement to third borrowing the little light that filtered through. It worked for us as we were only there at night. Of course it is not a model we will be rebuilding anywhere soon. But it did suggest that we should think a little more about the acceptability or not of dense inner city living, and the need to build in tolerance and to allow for future generations to creatively compromise. We were all also keen on the model as we concluded that it would liberate development in London from the absurd payments for light infringements that often outstrip those for social housing…

Which returned my thoughts to my first lunch and that discussion on housing. Necessary regulations manage the incapable, root out bad practice and are promoted by those with a commitment to architecture and morality. But in doing so they also stifle new ideas and create unwelcome straitjackets. I choose to live and live happily in a central London flat that looks only north (but on to a beautifully south-lit elevation); my rooms are too large to comply with daylight standards and of course I have no external space – but I do have parks.

So as I head off to E-1027 I am left reflecting on conversations I am yet to have and on the need to make time to meet and think differently (in London as well as Cannes). Being away reminded me we should all be open to doubt. It is debilitating as well as depressing that the internet, like our regulations, is black and white. In architecture and in life we need to give ourselves and others leeway and tolerance, and to learn to listen and not to accuse. To learn to disagree openly and elegantly. All of which are lessons that our political masters, at home and abroad, would do well to reflect on. 

While the many different parliamentary votes, in that home of farce, were discussed – in a time more of despair and almost beyond caring – there was also good news from London. Three clients purchased buildings! This is encouraging for us, but also encouraging for all as it showed there is an appetite to continue to invest in the future, to think beyond the now and of a politically and environmentally more civilised place called London 2030. There were no NDAs, for these are the deals of clients experienced enough to know that in Cannes as in London everything gets out (I said nothing, but others who missed out still asked and drew their own conclusions).

13:27 Sasha Bhavan

Really interesting breakfast workshop with Structural Timber STA. Jez Sweetland described Bristol Housing Festival’s ambitions to take the public with them, commissioning innovative, forward-looking solutions for Bristol. An initiative that uses real projects to convince the public of the benefits of quality development. 

CLT was championed by Swan Housing Association and dRMM. So many pluses – but still want to understand how to deal with water damage under construction and in use (bad weather and the leaking loo!)

12:38 Leo Pemberton

The final full day of MIPIM has begun, the tiredness is slowly creeping in and the thought of having a glass of vin rosé is frightening!

Recapping yesterday afternoon’s adventures, it was refreshing to get away from the craziness of La Croisette for a few hours to head into the Old Town for the Consibee and HTA drinks receptions on the beach. 

As the night drew on, I found myself at the notorious Warwick Estates party at Parc du Ville — it’s definitely not like anything I’ve ever seen before; an ice sculptor with chainsaw in full throttle and ‘cannes-cannes’ girls greeted us on arrival.

Ice sculpture mipim

Kicked off this morning with a great client catch-up about employee retention and benefits over coffee at the Carlton, before heading back into the Palais for a fascinating and apt panel discussion on ‘health, wellbeing and happiness’ at the UK government stand.

As a dog obsessive, I was intrigued to hear that 17.5 per cent of Amazon HQ employees in Seattle bring their canine to work — not sure I can convince Lindsay to implement this! At Bespoke, we’ve noticed that if a practice allows pets it can be a big factor for candidates when weighing up employment offers. I was also surprised to hear that all wework building leases have to be ‘dog-friendly’ as apparently having an animal in the workplace makes employees feel more at home and improves their mental health. PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate was mentioned again as a great example of a workspace that encourages a holistic approach to occupying space and emphasising outdoor awareness.

Today’s meetings will be conducted outside in the bright sunshine. The weather has been perfect, if slightly chilly at night. We’re nearly there, not too jaded just yet!

10:58 Francesca Pintus

It’s the final and arguably most intense day here at MIPIM.

While frantically trying to arrange the last meetings/coffees/light (not really) bites, today more than ever I’m appreciating the ‘First Timers HQ’ on the 5th floor of the Palais. If this is your first time at MIPIM there is still time to explore it. And you can also brag about it to those colleagues who are MIPIM veterans, as they won’t be able to access it.

A lounge space and a working area are served by a cafeteria offering free refreshments throughout the day. If you feel like you need a bit of fresh air away from the street crowd, take a look at the terraces and enjoy the view on the bay. The First Timers HQ is a great space for gathering your thoughts, replying to those emails that can’t wait any longer and to bump into other newbies who are equally overwhelmed.

Hurry though, you won’t be a newbie for much longer.

10:46 Lucy Homer

Hour 28: Networking in and around the London Pavillion –- quite often the best conversations are the ones you hadn’t planned in advance. 

Hour 29: Meeting with Pam Alexander and Mike Saunders of Common Place. They have a great technology platform which allows people in local communities to be able to share their view early. It was really interesting that 65 per cent of the comments were positive.

Hour 30: Catch up with AHMM, sat in the sunshine on the London Pavillion with Paul Monaghan. After a while we were joined by Tomas Stokke from Haptic and Christian Henriksen from Nordic. 

Hour 31: Midlands Pavillion Panel. I was part of an illustrious panel talking about regeneration through sport. I was talking about how we can apply lessons learnt from London Olympics Athletes Village and our work on Commonwealth Games to Birmingham City Council’s Perry Barr Redevelopment. 

Hour 32-33: Perfect Circle Reception hosted by Perfect Circle and Pick Everard, a chance to catch up with the other Scape Framework Construction Partners. The Scape Framework is a really great example of collaboration across the construction industry for the benefit of the public sector. 

Hour 34-35: AR Future Projects Dinner. This is a good chance to see what exciting projects the architectural industry is working on. There many ex-colleagues from MacCormac Jamieson Prichard in attendance and it is always great to chat about the old days there. 

Hour 36-37: Drink with Friends. There are always a few people you pick up throughout your career who transcend being a colleague into friendship. Jo Streeten heads up project management at AECOM and we worked together many years ago when she was my client at the BBC. It was a lovely way to relax after a fairly manic day. 

Hour 38 - 46 Rest and Recuperation. 

Hour 48: London Council roundtable discussion talking about partnerships.

10:39 Mark Shaw

There is an undoubtable pressure among architects at MIPIM to meet new people and potential clients.  We also spend quite a bit of time with people we already know and that’s not a bad thing; the week gives time and space to catch up with people you don’t get a chance to see that often in your network.

It feels like an extension of London at times and being so surrounded by other Europeans makes you realise how very European we are. Very little mention of Brexit on the blogs but it is curious being in the south of France while the various votes are going on in London. The distance gives a perspective and a context which makes us look very silly trying to leave the EU.

The consensus at dinner last night with Mark Goodbrand from Elliot Wood and Timo Haedrich from Hapric is that it will be delayed and delayed; a giant fudge and we will all lose interest. 

10:17 Tania Love

Just reflecting on yesterday, which was a marathon 22 hours without sleep. MIPIM is like a corporate ultra-run. 

Up at 8am after 5 hours’ sleep. Emails. Twitter flurry. Blog blindness.

Call from our Market Halls client to say we’d got planning consent Tues eve for the ex-BHS site on Oxford St: YAY!

10am breakfast meeting with James Sanders (who’s EIAing The Goodsyard with us for Hammerson and Ballymore), Mark Furlonger and& Peter Cole of Temple; discussed applications for their super-whizzy digital EIA software and also their template for measuring/monetising social return on development investment.

11.30pm jogged over to the London pavilion beach bar to meet Angela Dapper – fellow AJ blogger, ace WICE Award mentor and founding member of our Loud Jewellery Club. Speed-dating session (so to speak) with her and Pam Alexander OBE. There were men stripping off wetsuits in the background (swiMIPIM.) We kept most of our clothes on.

12.30pm and up the Croisette for a lovely lunch with Taylor Wessing –- property lawyers we’re working with on Market Halls. We had a girls’ end of the table and a boys’ end of the table. And drank Angelina Jolie’s rosé. Civilised.

2.30pm speedwalked to the Newcastle stand for a session on smart cities, learning from Anna Gissler, Invest Stockholm.

3pm Meeting with David Lewis of Rivington Land to discuss a hugely exciting JV opportunity.

3.30pm Daniel Libeskind in conversation with Suzanne Wylie in the Belfast pavilion

4.30-6.30 Emails, calls, twitter, blog.

6.30 Sir Robert McAlpine drinks on the Newcastle stand. Blethered two MIPIM virgins from Liverpool: Mathew Giles architect and Chris Lydon structural engineer.

7pm Manchester pavilion to use their loos (they’re the best: top tip, people) and to hook up with Carolyn Larkin of Caro Communications. We escaped the suits to go and have a mega-catchup over a quiet meal. Bumped into Andrew Taylor and Pankaj Patel en route.

10pm to Crillion aka London on Sea or should that be Manchester by the Sea. Lovely to see Chris Dyson; and Tom Bloxham and Jonathan Falkingham of Urban Splash. Tom’s feet must have been frozen in his Birkenstocks. Maybe hat was keeping heat in. Met Roger Zogolovitch, his son Gus, and architect Rebecca Granger. Gus and I were deep in conversation about finding a new collective noun for a special type of developers and were joined by Christine Murray. Stellar conversations about benevolent sexism, Brekshit and other things beginning with b.

2am walking back to apartment. So nearly made it to b for bed, when I heard my name called out from a wee bar halfway up the hill. It was my colleague Paul Rigby (who’s flown to MIPIM from Vancouver), out with our client Robin Dobson of Hammerson, Stephen Patterson of NE1, Newcastle’s BID, Phil Lynagh and Nigel Hartley of the World Wheel Company, Caroline Deevy of Santander (mum of Little Inventor star Adriana), and Johnny Seebacher of Ryder (who lives next door to me in Newcastle.)

4am Le Baoli nightclub

5am Apartment Faulknerbrowns’ team catchup in who’d we’d met, what we’d seen and heard

6am bed

8am up and at it… 

It’s people that make places. So many really lovely ones here in Cannes right now.

10:13 Ben Derbyshire

The Future Places project was simultaneously launched in MIPIM and at the Local Government Association annual conference in London. The project highlights the need to invest more delegated powers and resources from central government to local planning authorities to help develop their visions and allow them to get on and plan for the wellbeing of existing and future residents. 

Feeling pretty good about that, I went on to host a panel in the Midlands Region marquee addressing how to improve the supply of housing with improved quality and diversity. Handy that the Spring Statement included the news that Sir Oliver Letwin’s report has been accepted by the government. Less good news is that the investment behind the policy is nothing like adequate to compensate for the impacts of Brexit. 

After a session on the London stand with Sir Eddie Lister and others on the question of delivering ‘Good Growth’, I make my way to the really lovely beach party thrown by my practice, HTA Design. Around the headland to the west of Cannes’ old harbour, this takes place in a glorious setting with the sun going down over the bay – a really lovely way to reward the effort of the day with a few glasses of local rosé. 

The MIPIM/Architectural Review Future Projects Awards are a glamorous international affair held this year in the basement ballroom of the Marriott hotel on La Croisette. Our host for the supper was the redoubtable Paul Finch, who rattled through the announcements, forbidding vainglorious speeches and shushing any outbreaks of chatter among diners with ruthless efficiency.

He concluded his remarks with the thought that no matter how febrile things are between UK and EU, international architectural celebrations remind us we are a global profession. And in the course of the proceedings, I was rewarded with the news that MPs have seen sense and ruled out (hopefully) the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

9:17 Anne-Marie Nicholson

Wednesday morning, sprung out of bed at 7am eager to get some paracetamol so that I could get going, get some coffee and then… oh yes, attend the Housing Forum breakfast seminar that was so well attended they ran out of coffee! The speakers were on form, all focusing on how housing supply can be increased and delivered more easily and quickly. I was wishing that the design agenda had come up again, as it had at the MHCLG ‘Better Design’ conference a few weeks ago, when a question from the floor put that right (it was from an architect). Simon Kinsella from Homes England confirmed that he wants to create a continued dialogue about design quality to improve standards.

I sauntered back with some of the Higgins guys who went ‘boat watching’ in the sunshine, then I made a quick trip to the Manchester, Midlands and UK pavilions where presentations were in full swing and heaving. The sun was shining on the MIPIM swimmers who arrived on the beach by the London stand just as I was pausing for another coffee and a chance meeting with a marketing consultant, who told me that architects are really bad at marketing… he’s probably right, brochures for brochures’ sake and no story to tell, apparently.

I sat in on the session on ‘Making Space for Collaboration’ and heard Jonathan Martin, director at the London Borough of Waltham Forest describe the success of the Black Horse Workshop, which I must find out more about. He also discussed the Crate initiative which is all about ‘meanwhile use’, a concept that I later heard about from John Baker from MODOMO, who is also looking at ‘meanwhile housing’ and ‘activation spaces’ which fill up with local businesses or community spaces. Really exciting concepts that I immediately thought would work on a few sites we know are sitting empty.

Pat Hayes spoke as always very convincingly about Barking and Dagenham’s approach to mixed use and mixed tenure, saying that a blended mix of price points for houses was important, rather than a limited choice for the customer. He stressed that rent levels need to enable people to save because current homeowners use their equity for a pension pot, and the rental sector needs to be able to save somehow too.

Our PRP drinks event was bathed in sunshine and we welcomed many happy clients and friends into the oasis of the garden to our villa, which is the best kept secret at MIPIM. Spent a fun hour at the end talking with an architect from jmarchitects about good design of housing for older people, and I’m sure the conversation will continue.

The pedestrian streets of Cannes at 8pm have a wonderful humming party atmosphere, made all the nicer by chance meetings with old friends and cheery hellos. I walked a few blocks with Ben Derbyshire who was showing off a rather lovely designer tie for his evening event. I packed up at midnight when I realised just how cold it had got!

Heading to the UK pavilion this morning to listen to Stuart Lipton talking about ‘health, wellbeing and happiness’ and then off to the Iceni pool party for my own wellbeing and happiness!

8:50 Paul Finch

We held The Architectural Review Future Projects Awards last night, in the hotel I prefer to think of as the Palais Stephanie, now the J W Marriott on the Croisette. A cheery crowd of about 200 celebrated this year’s winners, most of whom were in the room having travelled from as far afield as China.

As ever (I have been doing this for 18 years), I compered the evening with one key intention: to get finished by 10:15pm so people could go to the multiple evening offerings at MIPIM. Having sat through a myriad of long-winded and tiresome awards events, I offer the following advice to anyone organising an awards dinner for the first time.

First, don’t let anyone make speeches. The Oscars provide proof positive of what a mistake that is. Second, only invite winners on to the stage. Third, try to break up the presentations across the course of the dinner. Fourth, use more than one image to show the quality of what has won. Fifth, make sure there is plenty of good wine throughout the evening!

1 future project of the year wonderwoods mvsa architects + stefano boeri architetti

1 future project of the year wonderwoods mvsa architects + stefano boeri architetti

This year we managed to finish by 10.15pm, which may have been a record… The overall winner was the Wonderwoods project in Utrecht, designed by MVSA Architects + Stefano Boeri Architetti, a lovely mix of nature and manmade.

Buildings take a long time to design and deliver; awards ceremonies also take time to organise, but the ceremony needs to flow. Next year beckons.

8:20 Ada Yvars Bravo

I suggest MIPIM replaces the United Nations as we’d have no wars – just real estate companies fighting for sites. I mean, at MIPIM I could easily wander in minutes from Moscow to Missouri without a visa. What is true is that nation states have less relevance, but cities and regions are key players in the fight for global capital. 

MYAA has a big international focus so at MIPIM I spent some time making friends with far away places of which we hear little. Went to the MENA Region talk, Egypt, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi – it was good to hear future plans but as we all know, economics and politics don’t often mix.



I also went to the Barcelona pavilion (Viva Catalunya!) looking at all new sites coming forward in the northern 22@ extension to the city. Malaga too is repositioning itself and Spain seems to be emerging from its slumber. Met a few investors keen on Spain so I’ll have to invite them over to a homemade paella and see if that works. 

Then went around the UK regions – second and third-tier cities are far more exciting because regen and transformational possibilities can have a massive impact. Spent time listening to Nottingham and its plans for a new stadium post-Brian Clough… we’re working on the 2022 World Cup, so I’m keen to find out legacy issues around Notts Forest. Hotfooted it over to the Motts beach party then Savills and Square Feet, before heading back to onion soup and bed.

1:18 Carol MacBain

8:30 – The day starts with a debriefing from a client after a failed bid, where we gleaned some useful and colourful feedback. MIPIM allows a more frank commentary, even at breakfast time, it would appear.

11:30 – A positive meeting with a client on the top floor of the Intercontinental Carlton Hotel, where the conversation takes place at the headboard in ’Grace Kelly’s bedroom’; the slightly disconcerting feeling is assuaged by a departure gift of a MIPIM Survival Kit containing a smiley face badge, a compeed plaster, antibacterial hand wash, arnica massage oil, paper hankies and an antiseptic wipe… what’s not to like?

Wednesday 13 March

23:45 Angela Dapper

Another busy day of meetings and networking events. I seem to have spent a lot of time at the London stand, home to bright clothes and a more equitable ratio of women to men, which is welcome relief from the abundant sea of blue suits outside. Another day of optimistic chatter about future projects; we will be busy following up lots of leads when we get back to London.

We spent the evening at The Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects awards, where we were chuffed to win a commendation for our contemporary art museum for the Vehbi Koc Foundation in Istanbul. Early night (12.30am) to prepare for talks taking place tomorrow.

21:58 Kieren Majhail

It’s a small world, well at least in the microcosm that is MIPIM. I’ve managed to spend more time with BDP colleagues from different offices than I would’ve done back in the UK! Really benefiting from their MIPIM tips, expertise and general mentoring.

Walked along the Boulevard de la Croisette with Roger Hawkins of Hawkins\Brown and discussed the Here East project as well as his connections with the Midlands. Got to meet fellow AJ blogger Lucy Homer and Friedrich Ludewig, director of Acme, who I had previously met at a Rising Star event. Bumped into so many ‘Twitter friends’ who I’ve now finally managed to meet in person. 

And to top it all off, here’s me with the TV legend that is Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs. The TV series that inspired so many 90s kids to get into architecture! 



Oh, and of course I went to a load of MIPIM talks and events!

18:57 Francesca Pintus

Italians do it better. Or so we like to think.

The deputy mayors of Rome, Milan, Florence, Genoa and Turin, together with the internationally renowned architect Carlo Ratti, came to MIPIM to discuss regeneration opportunities in the ‘Bel Paese’. 

All major cities in Italy are developing a vision to integrate their – wonderful – heritage with innovative developments which will transform ‘open air museums’ into places where local and international people want (and are able to) live and thrive.

As I pointed out to the panellists during the Q&A session, from an international perspective working on projects in Italy is still considered quite risky. The ever-shifting political environment, over-complicated bureaucracy and occasional corruption still make potential actors quite nervous.

However, things are slowly changing. Local authorities understand the importance of establishing a clear and proactive dialogue with private companies, with the aim to reach agreed results that can be equally profitable for investors and strategically beneficial for the city and its community.

In this sense, from the 2015 Expo onwards, Milan has definitely taken the lead. Now a candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympics, the Lombardy capital is booming. Taking advantage of Brexit, Milan is building up its reputation as a safe harbour for international headquarters as well as a stimulating UniverCity.

Sorry, Rome, but all roads seem to lead to Milan right now.

17:29 Tania Love



In front of every great man there’s a great woman. Or so it went(ish) in the 1970s. In front of Daniel Libeskind is Nina Libeskind, partner of Daniel and COO of Studio Libeskind.

Daniel was in conversation with Suzanne Wylie, chief exec of Belfast City Council. It was one of those conversations that you don’t want to come to an end. Like a really good novel.

With an intro courtesy of Kenneth Branagh in Belfast’s excellently scripted piece of city promotion, we were treated to an hour of storytelling and insight from a Pole who grew up in the Bronx and a council chief exec who is governing her home city. Both talked with such unscripted passion and enthusiasm about regeneration through cultural projects, that they had the whole of that packed-out Belfast pavilion on the edge of their seats.

Daniel made a plea for ’edgy cities like Belfast full of real people and currently under the radar of many tourists’ to ’maintain its messiness and the art of the place, without boutique-ifying itself.’ He made a fascinating comparison between philosophers who can publish their work or thoughts for free, and architects, who need legal permission to express themselves. We are repressed! But we must have faith in the future, he told us. ’Faith has been greatly underestimated and is the substance of hope. Because architecture is inserting yourself into the future, [we] have to project positively.’

I asked if he felt ’placemaking’ is an overused word. He agreed, but considered that with a little love and care, by harnessing the energy of a place’s people, we could make places. If everyone in that room today involved in regeneration acknowledged the value of cultural heritage and applied love and care to placemaking with even a fraction of the passion, energy and humility of Daniel Libeskind, our cities will be all the richer.

Massively energised! Thanks for hosting this, Belfast, and keep it messy! Signing off to buy Daniel’s books to enjoy more of his stories, and to have dinner with Carolyn Larkin, my great friend of 30 years from my Rock Townsend days. We’ll be reminiscing over our own storybook.

17:18 Sasha Bhavan

Sunset on the beach at the HTA party. Caroline Dove is a splash of colour in a black-suit world, although there are considerably more women this year than last. The end of day two.


16:04 Tarek Merlin

The Price & Myers luncheon has become one of those must-go-to MIPIM events. Lovely venue on a rooftop overlooking the whole MIPIM spectacle. A really fun, chilled crowd, generally swapping notes on what’s been and what’s to come. 

16:01 Mark Shaw

I somehow or other took part in the 1km swim for homeless charity Streets of London. It was organised by dMFK and Elliott Wood, and some incredibly friendly French people gave us a route across the bay and some general safety instructions. Considering how many homeless people I see outside my Tube station in the East End, it is such a worthy cause. Thank you Julian for encouraging/persuading me to do it! Another good example of a micro-network, which is all-important here. 



Now off to the Freehold LGBT drinks on the beach. Micro-network with people form all sectors. I invited Joe Morris… we are inclusive and welcoming! 

14:54 Sasha Bhavan

So pleased I went to hear Daniel Libeskind paying tribute to Peter Rice (a saint). He described Peter’s incredible generosity in helping him as an unknown, impoverished young architect, with no incentive to offer apart from collaboration on an extraordinary competition entry. Peter believed that ’people come to buy surprise’. This was an inspirational session, a breath of fresh air: genuine interest in and celebration of the making of architecture. Go and see the film. 

Price & Myers’ MIPIM party is the place to be today – to make good contacts with contractors, QSes, PRs, planning advisers, landscape architects and many others. We have worked with Price & Myers for over 20 years; they are great friends and supporters of good architecture. Thanks to Phil Hudson and the whole team. 


13:20 Francesca Pintus

Following Ban Ki-moon’s fervent call to arms for the industry to tackle climate change, today’s panel discussion featured industry leaders focusing on resource efficiency in buildings and construction. Speakers from HOK, Siemens, PROLOGIS, GRESB and Construction21 discussed how to best engage with clients and investors who want to be ’part of the solution’ rather than ’the problem’.

We learned how the use of technology and data is promoting a cultural shift to ensure that the whole life cycle of buildings – including their usage and demolition – is not harmful to the environment. Since the technology is already there, the biggest challenge is to push the boundaries even further, moving from sustainable and ‘smart’ buildings back to a ‘human-centric’ built environment. In an Alexa-dominated era, refocusing on human beings sounds incredibly refreshing.

13:19 Kieren Majhail

Investment into homes, communities and placemaking is the topic of the day on the Midlands stand. Discussion on large regeneration projects in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Nottingham. We have Ben Derbyshire in the house now, championing quality design. Can the Midlands compete with the rest of the UK in quality of design? It needs a commitment from the authorities, developers and designers. Looking forward to hearing Deborah Cadman (CEO of WMCA) in conversation Nick Walkley (chief exec Homes England) later today, where I’m sure there will be a bit of disruption and challenge!

12:34 Leo Pemberton

After last night’s opening of the London stand I headed along for my annual catch up with the Eckersley O’Callaghan lot at their drinks reception, held in a great little bar with even better canapés. While enjoying the buzz I got the chance to congratulate James on his gold medal award from the IoSE. The surprise of the evening came from the official MIPIM opening party, which I’ve never actually attended before. I didn’t expect the grand fireworks and music displays — a truly opulent spectacle!

Catching the swimmers arriving on the shore of the London stand after their charity swim this morning was a highlight — all organised by our friends at dMFK and Elliott Wood. Luckily, the sun was already blasting down as they peeled out of their wetsuits.

Swimmers mipim2019

Swimmers mipim2019

It’s clear that collaboration is key after the ‘London: A Regional Economy’ discussion. Nick Walkley of Homes England was adamant that we don’t build enough homes to support the economy and all panellists agreed that investing in infrastructure was the way to move things forward.

Heading uphill now to the Price & Myers buffet lunch, always a fabulous event and a who’s who of architects and engineers. The view is breathtaking, especially on a day like today.

12:32 Ben Derbyshire

This morning, at the Department for International Trade marquee, we announced the local authorities which have been selected to take part in our Future Place programme. At the outset of my presidency I was determined to work collaboratively in pursuing my theme of quality and performance in the built environment. So soon after my election I went to see Richard Best, and after meetings with potential partners at the House of Lords, my office at HTA Design and the RIBA, we hit upon an action research project, working up the detail with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Royal Town Planning Institute and the Local Government Association. More recently Homes England has joined the project, and we are in discussion with other prospective contributors.

We thought it important to avoid yet another report. We will instead focus on working alongside five towns, chosen from 50 or so submissions, supplementing their resources with ours, building an information platform to help others with ambitious visions for quality placemaking. It’s a credit to the RIBA’s Lucy Carmichael and Carmen Mateu that we were able to announce the places simultaneously at MIPIM and at the LGA conference, in the presence of housing minister Kit Malthouse. Anyone with any experience will know just how hard it is to come up with shared objectives and criteria between four membership organisations such as ours. But how worthwhile it has been.

There was huge enthusiasm from our chosen partners about the opportunity to work together, hopefully to prove the point that proactive, community-based planning, involving planners and designers in a cross-sector partnership, is the way to build community wellbeing. I really look forward to working with the people of Bradford, Greater Exeter, Great Yarmouth, Gateshead and Northamptonshire. Future Place is up and running.

12:26 Simon Allford

Last night I was privileged to head to the hills for an evening at the Columbe d’Or as guest of a family of builders, who for generations have built the architecture of the future. The venue was carefully chosen and is most appropriate. For magnificent as it is, it is also built around a vision of patronage: patronage of art and artists, and of food and hospitality. To build architecture we need patrons, people who champion the idea. We also ask contractors to take on too many unacceptable risks. As we discussed at lunch yesterday us architects should look more closely at who we make architecture for. I fear too often we make it for ourselves!

Tomorrow I leave MIPIM early for London. But en route I will embark on my own ‘recherche du temps perdu’ and head to Menton. In my year out between school and university I played Space Invaders and worked as a waiter in Vieux Roquebrune. I knew of Le Corbusier but never found his petit cabanon. What I did discover on my wandering was a dilapidated villa – a forgotten masterpiece. On researching I learned more of its name (in fact a number, E-1027) and of its architect Eileen Gray. 

As a young woman she bravely went abroad, to learn, to design, to make and to build her vision of the world. Most notable architecturally is E-1027, a masterpiece but also a delightfully elegant, economical, particular and comfortable home for her and her much younger lover Jean Badovici. For 15 years it was also home to her magnificent furniture prototypes. Subsequently she suffered the vandalising of her house, first by Le Corbusier and then the occupying Nazi army, who also looted many of her drawings and sent her to an internment camp.

Thirty years later, in her 90s, she was rediscovered by Joseph Rykwert. Her furniture – which had been rejected by purists for being too delightful – was promoted by Zeev Aram and subsequently celebrated, and most importantly enjoyed around the world by aesthetes who also seek comfort. Her villa was restored and is an international architectural landmark; her reputation was both re-established and deservedly enhanced. She lived a magnificently engaging life to the age of 98: socialite, patron, sybarite, a great constructor of ideas and a survivor. She was also the beneficiary of privilege – but why should that affect our assessment of her legacy? After all, her model of alternative practice is a model we could all still learn from today.

11:47 Sasha Bhavan

I like what Lucy Homer said about banning the phrase ‘value engineering’ and bringing in the term ‘design once’. I completely agree with Lucy that putting energy into designing once with the right people must bring efficiencies of time and money. Another almost all-woman panel!


11:45 Lucy Homer

Hour 24: London Council Breakfast. A great overview by one of the east London councils with an invited audience on their plans for the future and the launch of an exciting new opportunity.

Hour 25: London pavilion debate. I joined five others on the London stand for a panel on collaborative approaches. I spoke about the benefits our Design + Technical team brings to Lendlease; how it encourages collaboration between our development and construction businesses, but also externally with our design partners and construction supply chain. In summary: #designitonce 

Hour 26: Stanton Williams catch up. Once I had managed to extricate myself from the queue of people to talk to after the debate I made it (slightly late) to a catch up with Gavin Henderson from Stanton Williams. Unfortunately the world doesn’t stop back in London and I had to run out to do a conference call.

Hour 27: Midlands pavilion. Ian Ward from Birmingham City Council talked about the partnership with Lendlease on Birmingham Smithfield, followed by the wonderfully passionate Bek Seeley from Lendlease who explained how excited we are to be working on this amazing opportunity, and her personal attachment to the city as it is where she started her career at Jaguar Land Rover. There was a real buzz about the Midlands pavilion last year and this year I think even more so. 

11:37 Steve Sanham

Just touched down in Nice, with the sun shining. It seems a world away from blustery Brexit-obsessed London. Though I hear it was very blustery in Cannes earlier in the week, with flights diverted from Nice to Marseille, while poor old Manchester, who had their stand flooded last year, had their charter flight diverted to Genoa. A three-hour bus ride meant many of the delegation missed their own opening reception.

Despite the gloom in the UK, HUB has had a great start to the year – securing a forward-funding deal with L&Q for our AHMM-designed Taberner House scheme in Croydon then, just last night, securing planning from Brent Council for our Wembley Link development. It’s a very nice Glenn Howells-designed scheme for 256 homes, which received unanimous consent. We’re now looking forward to building it. Also, I’m proud to say that we have maintained our 100 per cent record at winning planning – I think it’s down to working with really good architects and the extensive community engagement we carry out, well ahead of the formal consultation. That’s just so important in my view.

MIPIM this year is all about building on our momentum. It’s only a very short trip for me – after the planning committee success last night we have preparatory works starting on our Landing town centre regeneration development in Maidenhead on Friday, so I need to be back for that. I’m in on Wednesday, out on Thursday. Heading straight for lunch in Cannes and then to Croydon’s ‘Beers on the Beach’ event which we are sponsoring to launch our Taberner House rebrand – the new Queen’s Quarter. Sunglasses at the ready.

11:34 Tarek Merlin

Got to admit I was struggling a bit this morning. And it didn’t help that the first three people I met found the need to tell me that I was ‘looking a bit tired’. I thought I was holding up pretty well, under the circumstances. Still, nothing that a quick coffee in the sun can’t fix at the London stand. Accompanied by a cheery chat with the wonderful Colm Lacey from Croydon’s Brick by Brick. One of those pioneering local authorities we were talking about at yesterday’s small practices / public procurement lunch. 

10:17 Anne-Marie Nicholson

There is no escaping Brexit, even on the Promenade de la Croisette. I managed to catch up with our Manchester studio who listened to a debate with Richard Lease and Jo Anderson yesterday, who spoke about central government’s lack of capacity to deal with anything other than Brexit. The issue goes far beyond Westminster, with the government’s lack of short and long-term investment in infrastructure, regional rail and affordable housing holding back economic growth and stalling the Northern Powerhouse. What’s the solution? For the government to get out of the way and devolve more power to the regions.

Now on to day two of MIPIM. I’m still feeling rested and monitoring my rosé intake, but can’t make any promises for our PRP drinks later this afternoon…

9:57 Kieren Majhail

Managed to pop into the Manchester stand’s ’Carbon Neutral by 2038: Manchester’s Sustainable Future’ event, which was hosted by my BDP colleague Gavin Elliot. A great line up on this important issue, with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Oslo mayor Raymond Johansen, Bruntwood Chief Exec Chris Oglesby and Helen Gribbon of Renaissance. Andy talks about Manchester’s Green Summit and a five-year plan to become a global leader in sustainability, learning from our international friends. He explains how it needs public, private and government buy-in and how Manchester is the only region to be leading on this agenda – a bold statement!

8:57 Ben Derbyshire

On Tuesday evening, RIBA CEO Alan Vallance and I hosted a supper to discuss the opportunity for our great cities to excel in successful placemaking. It’s a great guest list from Liverpool (Paul Monaghan, Liverpool City Region design champion) Leeds, Derby and Birmingham. Pat Brown of the LFA (among other things) and the excellent Victoria Hills of RTPI, were there too.

I’m struck that the Manchester stand at MIPIM somehow conveys civic leadership in a most confident and convincing way. It is completely devoid of models, sales material and developer PR of any kind. Instead, there are giant portraits of city luminaries of recent years on the approach to the entrance. Organised around a small circular bar, there are three almost empty but very generously proportioned and well lit spaces; one for formal presentation and debate, with rows of benches; a space for networking, decorated only with super-graphic signage; and an area with comfortable booths for informal meetings. It’s all about people and interaction, not so much about commerce, but I bet it’s effective.

As we dine, I make a bet with Victoria over the outcome of the ‘meaningful vote’ and I win, as it turns out. RIBA will be issuing a press release first thing. We are calling for the government to vote against the disaster of leaving the EU without a deal, and for a delay to Article 50. But while I win my bet with the CEO of the RTPI, I fear that the real winners of this confusing and uncertain outcome will be thin on the ground.

8:37 Sasha Bhavan

‘London is open for business’ – lots of bullish talk and apparent confidence about life through and after Brexit. Great points about how we need talent to continue to come from overseas but an almost united front describing London as an unbeatable powerhouse of innovation, talent, power and commerce. I wish I could be so confident; sadly I found Anna Strongman of Argent’s lone voice expressing anxiety more believable. 


8:27 Paul Finch

After two days of glorious sunshine, a cloudy start this Wednesday morning. Highlights of my week so far have been the relaxing pre-MIPIM party in Jack Pringle’s fabulous self-designed house, Maison des Citrons in Vence (pictured), and a mock-serious conversation yesterday with John McElgunn of RSHP and Andy Downey of engineer Elliott Wood. Our subject was the dilemmas posed by ‘tolerance’. Such a nice-sounding word, but in the context of architecture and construction it could be said to be a synonym for sloppiness. Why can’t buildings have the same degree of accuracy in their delivery as, say, cars or aircraft? Why is it assumed that things will almost fit rather than actually fit?

Img 1055

Img 1055

The Cedric Price distinction between ‘tolerance, fit and calculated inaccuracy’ sprang to mind; as far as delivery and fit-out is concerned it seems inevitable that with the splitting of work into multiple packages, the chances of overall control of levels of precision is non-existent. This, of course, is why people turn to ‘Mr Mastic’, the magic syringe full of material that is impossible to recycle, forever coming into play to cover over the inconvenient evidence of non-precision thinking. We imagined a new set of awards, with nominations covering everything from the thinnest to the thickest applications.

The one area where mastic is not required is the shadow gap (an aesthetic response to imprecision, rather like architraves). This generates a theme tune for the forthcoming awards: ‘Me and My Shadow’. On another tolerance note, I have managed to avoid wearing a ‘pink elephant’. My cynical view about virtue signalling: wouldn’t the worst offenders be first in line to wear one?

8:08 Ada Yvars Bravo

While Brexit is a slow-mo car crash, here in sunny Cannes Her Majesty’s Gov ‘Invest in Britain’ stand ignored the big elephant in the room. Beware the Ides of March Theresa, but deal or no deal, MIPIM goes on.

Spent the morning in London and saw interesting new granular finance initiatives where you can buy stocks and shares in individual buildings, quite different to REITs and could be a revolutionary step. Then I headed to Moscow, where I met the city’s chief architect and hung out with a few oligarchs. Hot footed it over to the East Midlands for a reality check. With our exposure in the Middle East, the Big Egypt expo was fantastic, but the best was the Big Dubai & Egypt bash at the Carlton hotel complete with live band, food and fireworks. I refused to biz and just let my hair down and bopped away. Awesome!

7:45 Angela Dapper

MIPIM is definitely now in full swing, busy and buzzing. On Tuesday I met some old friends and some new ones, and talked about opportunities. It’s exciting to see real projects being discussed and I’m already feeling like this year’s MIPIM is a success. Completely exhausted though and it’s still early days. MIPIM seems to be in its own time zone where hours slip and plans constantly change. 

I unfortunately missed the opening address by Ban Ki-moon which was apparently great. He did a call out to the industry to address global warming which can no longer be ignored. This message resonated in a number of conversations that followed, which shows that the profession is listening.

1:20 Kieren Majhail

I’m so glad I went with the flat shoes, there is so much walking involved! I can’t believe how busy and exhausting the day has been! Now I completely understand the true value of MIPIM: there is genuine opportunity to cultivate relationships if you put in the effort to listen and talk to people. 

I thought MIPIM was all about promoting yourself and your company, however I’m pleasantly surprised at how much people promote and amplify others, which is really encouraging.

Tonight I went for dinner and bumped into fellow blogger Ben Derbyshire, who was discussing collaboration with the RTPI president and chief executive. Then I headed over to the Manchester Bar which was full of a few Mancs, including property celeb Tom Bloxham with the Urban Splash crew.

Tuesday 12 March

22:35 Lucy Homer

Hour 8: UK Government pavilion – a lovely and surprisingly fun panel on Sharing Risk and Reward, public/private partnerships. Victoria Quinlan did an awesome job representing Lendlease and describing our long-term partnerships with the public sector. My favourite audience question of the day was ’Who would you swap places with on the panel and why’!

Hour 9: The City of London Reception was held at a little restaurant in the centre of Cannes; numerous interesting people and conversations, and really lovely looking champagne which I avoided. I like to do a dryish MIPIM; more on that later. I met my good friend Thomasin Renshaw from Grovesnor Estates who is here talking about her South Molton Triangle Project.

Hours 10–15: Cocktail party on the Arup Yacht. Initially the party, which we did arrive a bit late for, was so popular you had to queue to get in! Too many people to mention but I did really enjoy seeing Sue Emms from BDP and Bea Young from Weston Williamson, both of whom I went to Sheffield University with. I had my first glass of very welcome champagne at about 8pm just as the crowd died down. Then about 40 people – a mixture of Arup, consultants and clients – had a fabulous and very chilled dinner. 



Hours 16–23: Recuperation. This makes it sound like I got plenty of sleep but I’m sure I only got six hours. There was considerable taxi-waiting and travel as I am staying outside Cannes – I won’t be making that mistake again!

22:04 Wallace Sampson

Late evening now, but a hugely enjoyable day at MIPIM. The place is amazing and has far exceeded my expectations. I have been proud to be part of the Leeds City Region delegation and have met some fantastic people, with a great opportunity to share information on some of the big projects we have in Harrogate. It has also been about listening and hopefully bringing some interesting insights back.

For anyone who has never been before and perhaps thinking about next year – it’s a must! The scale and size of the event is much bigger than I imagined, and some of the exhibitor stands are just out of this world. Well done to every part of the UK represented!

17:33 Francesca Pintus

Ubiquity is what you need at MIPIM. My calendar is double-booked for the next three days and it’s tough to decide what to sacrifice. Interestingly enough, while ‘duty’ leads you to the many events and pavilions dedicated to the UK, one can’t help but wander around (and wonder about) the numerous stands and talks showcasing other cities and regions. Curiosity might kill the cat, but it’s always good to see what the rest of the world is up to.

In between a walk through Istanbul and a tour of Egypt, today we hosted a lunch with a good mix of designers, consultants, developers and local authorities. While everyone tried very hard NOT to talk about Brxxx, with just a few hours until the vote in Parliament, the tension is tangible. Has this saga come to an end? How much will the result impact the industry? We’ll find out soon enough.

17:24 Leo Pemberton

Day one of MIPIM is drawing to a close. This afternoon the cyclists rolled in at about 15:30 – it was incredible to see the amount of effort that goes into this fundraising event – top marks to all! Over 200 cyclists took part, cycling across various routes; in the end they raised over £400,000 for Coram, an amazing achievement.


I’m currently writing from the London stand opening reception, where despite the political mayhem back home, the key message from all speakers is that London is well and truly open for business. The band The Instigators is now in full swing on the terrace – Chris Liddle of HLM is a hoot!

16:52 Kieren Majhail

The hot topics today are diversity and partnership. MIPIM is notorious for its lack of diversity, but the UK is clearly leading on the diversity agenda. Check out the diversity on the Midlands UK stand with the West Midlands Combined Authority CEO Deborah Cadman, Sadie Morgan and Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect – an impressive and diverse range of women leading the way.

Kieren 7

The UK’s pavilion talk on public private partnership had a balanced male and female panel. Nick Walkley highlighter the importance of understanding your partners values - all male meetings are a no no when working with local and combined authorities who are streets ahead with diversity. 

Continuing with the partnership theme, the West Midlands and Homes England just announced a huge partnership and commitment to the region. With Homes England’s new Head Quarters being based in Coventry. Sir Edward Lister 

Homes England explains that the West Midlands is Homes England’s corner stone, we are creating jobs and homes in the region. 

So massive amounts of confidence with HS2 and other huge investments in the region, it’s all sounding very positive!

16:38 Ben Derbyshire

Chris Dyson arrives in Cannes by train from Genoa after a fall from his bike on the Bari route of the Club Peloton cyclists. Conditions for cyclists have been challenging every day since their departure, until today when at last the wind subsided. We hear reports of a woman rider in hospital overnight, but thankfully she’s not badly hurt.

At the Sheffield City Region headquarters I represent the RIBA on a panel to discuss delivering sustainable placemaking and quality housing where relatively low values challenge viability. Beforehand, I learn from chief executive, John Mothersole, that the city’s strategy rests on creating high-quality manufacturing jobs, building on a legacy of steelmaking skills that persists. Clive Betts, veteran MP for Sheffield South East, now chairs the MHCLG Committee on Modern Methods of Construction. As a parting shot in my evidence to the committee on behalf of the RIBA, I suggested that Sheffield ought perhaps to mount a Housing Expo to demonstrate the benefits of innovative manufacture to quality housing delivery – maybe not so far off the mark?

The RIBA stand at MIPIM is really heaving, I must say; besieged with enquiries. If the number of participating practices continues to increase at the current rate, this could perhaps mean as many as 50 participating in the mission this time next year. As the Department for International Trade is sponsor of our mission, it occurs to me that we may be approaching the point where a move to the DIT marquee may be appropriate. I think if we were to mount a programme of discussion and discourse in the government tent, we may well be on track to delivering useful synergies with its remit to sell the talent that exists in UK plc.

At lunch, I host a group including two other AJ bloggers, Tarek Merlin of Feix & Merlin (on the RIBA stand) and Claire Bennie of Municipal. The topic is the search for public procurement that does not discriminate against SME practices. We are joined by the deputy chief executive of Homes England and Simon Allford of AHMM who, as ever, is full of creative thinking. We agree to work together on a model of collaborative practice that might stand a better chance of appealing to local authority employers. Some tough love in the discussion, held on Chatham House rules, pointing out that nobody owes architects any favours and that small practices must offer something of genuine value to hard-pressed public employers. No doubt there will be other perspectives from my blogging companions.

Alan Vallance and I host a small private dinner for local authorities this evening, so we’ll try out the thinking from lunch. I can see it may be hard to keep off developments unfolding in Westminster with the ‘meaningful vote’. As I sit in the HTA villa writing this, BFM ‘NonStop’ TV news reports that exports of Champagne to the UK have hit record levels! This, in between headlines such as, ‘Brexit: La dernière carte de May’. To coin a phrase, ‘Sodom, for Gomorrah we die!’

16:24 Sasha Bhavan

Ban Ki-moon gave an impassioned address at the MIPIM opening. He called for sustainable and inclusive cities where young, old, rich, poor, citizens and migrants are all considered and welcome, and where climate change is no longer a debate but a fact. 

He stressed that we are all in this together. ’Nobody can survive if we don’t do it together. Despite the geopolitical difficulties we face, we need to work together and remind ourselves we are global citizens who share the land and the air.’ Follow that… let’s hope the MIPIM community is listening. 

16:15 Anne-Marie Nicholson

I’ve arrived. I know I have because I have sand on my shoes and am sitting in a deck chair on the beach next to the London stand terrace. Distant memories of 40mph winds at the weekend and rain at Gatwick. I’ve got my See the Elephant campaign badge, found the Lindor chocolates and am ready for business. The London stand reception starts in an hour and I can see the great and the good congregating, and blow me down but the conversations I overhear are about things happening in Westminster tonight – who would have thought?

There are seven of us from PRP trying to cover all the bases – we’re scattered tonight but convening at 3pm tomorrow for our own drinks event. I caught up briefly with Andy von Bradsky before leaving but sadly, after almost two decades attending MIPIM he won’t be here this year. So much to catch up on, Andy, and of course congrats on landing the super role as head of architecture at the ministry for housing.

16:14 Simon Allford

I have been wandering around somewhat incognito with a sling protecting my arm, a cap protecting my head and sunglasses on my eyes. Everyone I meet and hear from seems to be enjoying looking at London and the UK from a sunny distance. Despite panic politics in the reporting myth-and-reality of the endless Euro saga, most seem to be inured and are dealing with day-to-day realities of disappointments and opportunities.

‘Plus ça change’ as they say on the London stand…

15:13 Tarek Merlin

Just come out of our small practices public procurement lunch. A very positive and fruitful discussion with some great people at the table. There was lots of interesting debate, generally very good humoured and helpful. In the end we came up with a strong summary conclusion that everyone could agree on. 


We agreed that we will hold a forum, on neutral ground such as at Future of London and with RIBA backing, to meet six pioneering local authorities and six small practices. Not to pitch, just to listen and understand, with the intended outcome to generate a model of how, working with smaller practices, we can deliver better housing. 

15:08 Claire Bennie

Councils are developing homes again – and their output might reach up to 10,000 homes a year in England. So how do smaller practices navigate the bureaucratic thicket of procurement and get their hands on some of that work? The RIBA convened 10 of us today to thrash out this topic, including architects large and small, Homes England, council advocates and a brave lawyer.

Let’s take a step back. Councils are under huge pressure to deliver homes quickly, to tight budgets and to exacting ‘landlord’ compliance standards. There is seldom a reward for council officers for focusing on quality, let alone for using untested consultants to achieve that. So procurement reform in itself isn’t enough.

First, councils and small architects need to listen to and understand each other more – there are lessons to learn in both directions. So Future of London, through its excellent Council-Led Housing Forum, has offered to provide the space for that frank conversation about the constraints councils face and the value smaller architects can offer. Having built some trust, the two groups (buyers and sellers) may then try together to create a ‘model of engagement’ which allows councils to use smaller practices without being over-exposed to risk. There are some knotty issues to untangle around liability and procurement, but it all felt solvable today. Perhaps the blue sea and sky beguiled us all.

A final point. My seven years of architectural education were almost entirely bereft of any insight into (or frankly acknowledgement of the existence of) ‘clients’ – you know, those people who pay for buildings. I feel this has to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I’ve created a course outline of eight lectures (one term, one hour a week) during Part 2 if anyone wants to take me up on that idea…

14:54 Simon Allford

Escaped lunch and wandered past symbols of an old (outdated) model of Cannes! And of the sybaritic excess of years gone by! 

My post (18)

My post (18)

Hedonism is ever rarer. And I was reminded of this by the riders, following long hard days cycling (their only excess being calorific consumption) pouring in from the north. For them at least the sun shines…

14:45 Mark Shaw

Last night I sat next to Graham Place from Box Architects at the dinner for RIBA members. Graham has been coming to MIPIM for quite a few years. He started coming when they were five people and they are now 30. He said that MIPIM is about the ‘grunt’ of architecture and not about design. He said that architects need to learn that what is important is fitting into their clients’ business plan and being part of the vision for their business. 

Just had a lunch with Ben Derbyshire, Simon Allford, Tom Walker from Homes England, Claire Bennie from Municipal and Nicola Mathers from Future of London. We discussed how we could form an SME alliance to tackle and deliver public-sector projects, overcoming the issues around procurement and thresholds. Watch this space. 

13:37 Simon Allford

Arrived in Cannes last night following the AHMM conference hosted at the Palace Theatre by our client Nica Burns, who regaled us with tales of the resident ghosts of Ivor Novello, Anna Pavlova and the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan, architectural innovation and bankruptcy.

This morning I caught up with two old clients and missed a meeting with a new one. Such is the reality of MIPIM time – relaxed and stretched to breaking point. Lunch was a discussion with RIBA president Ben Derbyshire, small practices, and the great and the good of Homes England. It began with the legitimate querying of frameworks – why are we excluded and how can we get more work? After some tough questions: why should you get more work? And do you really want the work that does not want you?

It morphed into a more promising get together with local councils and registered social landlords (but separately). Find out what they want you to deliver and then form a model for the smart alliances of small practices and delivery-focused practices that answers the stated needs. My counsel was to do it quickly and get it out there: there are too many talk shops and grandstanding for good design that deliver nothing more than platitudes. If they do pull it off it will be an achievement; but as I warned, they may not want what you have to offer and you may not want to offer what they think they want!

The fundamental challenge remains that too much of architectural education is modelled on the delights of what is now known in common academic parlance as ‘alternative models of practice’ which, ironically, looks to me very much like the old model of the gentleman amateur architect: condemned by a private income to deliver what architects want to deliver!

13:25 Leo Pemberton

The suits have arrived! The official first day of MIPIM is here and the sunshine continues. I kicked off the day with a double pit-stop on the beach at Conisbee’s breakfast then headed down La Croisette to the Women in Property brekkie, which was a very welcome break from a sea of navy suits. 

Arriving at the London stand, it feels busier and buzzier than ever – a lot of familiar faces are around to chat to. The terrace is a great location to catch up with clients who are often pressed for time in London, but able to chew the fat over a coffee (or something stronger) here. Does anyone else find it frustrating to recognise a face, but find their lanyard is just out of sight? 

Fascinating to hear more about the introduction of 5G in the ‘Digital Connectivity’ talk with Cluttons. Karen Cook of PLP was in the audience and it was particularly interesting to hear that PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate is set to be the smartest in London. 

Excited to see what the afternoon brings. With the cyclists rolling into town and the opening reception of the London Stand, it’ll be a busy one! 

13:22 Carol MacBain

After a leisurely start, lunch is mostly in full swing on Boulevard de la Croisette, while preparations are going on elsewhere.

My post (17)

My post (17)

13:03 Lucy Homer

Hour 5: London Pavillon. Sunglasses on, admiring the view and gossiping with a few consultants of ours. I had thought it would be quiet as it was lunchtime – my strategy is to not do any lunches! They can take a long time and I can see more potential clients by avoiding them. 

13:01 Sasha Bhavan

Great to see four out of give panelists are women at the opening session in the London Pavilion – ‘The Knowledge Economy’. 

Sasha 3

12:36 Lucy Homer

Hour 4: Manchester Pavilion. A packed house for the Innovation District launch by Manchester City Council and the University of Manchester – an exciting city-centre opportunity for encouraging collaboration in technology and innovation industries. A fabulously gender-diverse panel, the audience less so!!! 

Lucy 4

Lucy 4

12:21 Angela Dapper

Amazing start to the day with a early morning yoga class on the pier. It was a scramble to get there, as I realised the alarm didn’t go off because my phone hadn’t adjusted to French time (rookie error). So I only woke up 15 minutes before the class, whacked on some yoga clothes, lipstick and sunglasses, and dashed out. It was idyllic in setting, the perfect temperature and a great start to the day. 

Back for the first official MIPIM day and instantly got lost in the bunker looking for my first meeting at the Cardiff stand. The London stand looks great and was the busiest stand this morning. Might go back for another peep at the models. Looks exciting and vibrant – lots of projects seem to be on the go. 

12:01 Sasha Bhavan

Simon Knox and Tom Day chatting on the RIBA stand. Spot our Knox Bhavan model (a detail of our Buddhist Meditation Centre) in the foreground. Very popular for peer factor, but we forgot to put our name (or the project) on it!!! 


11:13 Carol MacBain

Thank you AJ for another blogging spot at MIPIM 2019! The sun is out here today and the cafés are already full.

My MIPIM started last night in Le Crillon, the former ‘Manchester Bar’ I’m told. Much chat about UK prospects – comparisons between Scotland, Manchester and London. Highlights of the evening:

  • John ‘Macallan’ McElgunn sipping an Ardbeg!
  • My Scots husband getting a free drink from the bar… much to the delight of Paul Finch, and previously unheard of in Le Crillon
  • Meeting old chum Jon Matthews, formerly of 5Plus Architects but now starting a new venture – Jon Matthews Architects
  • Lovely to meet the Haptic Architecture crew and bump into Blake Turner from Quantem.

What will today bring?

10:24 Francesca Pintus

…and so it starts. If you are a newbie like me, don’t worry, I heard that most people do make it to the end. I had been to Cannes only at ‘off-peak’ times. As an urbanist, it’s interesting to see how the city vibe changes during the MIPIM hurricane.

I heard that Cannes makes more money during MIPIM than during the film festival, as ‘movie stars are constantly on a diet’. Already the streets are invaded by an army of blue suits – which seems slightly dystopian – but there is an upbeat mood and money to spend.

Don’t you worry Cannes, we will honour your croissants.

8:37 Lucy Homer

Hour 1: Arrival, pass collection and orientation. Heavily regretting not collecting my pass at the airport late last night – I joined the queue for registration and about 45 minutes later I am in. Have found my four key pavilions – London, Midlands, Manchester, UK – all handily very close to one another. 

Hour 2: Getting in the MIPIM mood – it always takes me a little time to get into the right mindset. I wandered around the key pavilions I am interested in and started getting ideas and having a few conversations with people I bump into. By the end of this hour I am now ready to get cracking! 

Hour 3: Press interview. My first meeting is an interview with Building magazine (all is fair in love and press!) We covered a lot of my favourite topics: partnerships with clients, collaborating with design teams, supply chain procurement – all with a common thread of technology. In summary I am interested in how we get better and more efficient as an industry.  

8:27 Tarek Merlin

Managed to make it down for yoga on the beach despite the slight hangover. And it was actually quite a glorious thing to do. Morning sunshine washing down as we’re doing our sun salutations, up dogs and warriors and such; not that I was managing most to any kind of suitable description, but it was the perfect way to clear the head and start the day. 

Fellow AJ blogger and one of the all-female team from Grimshaw, Angela Dapper, was leading the charge. She said I did more photo taking than yoga!

Tarek 4

Tarek 4

8:18 Tania Love

Disappointing lack of reference to the D-word from this chap summarising the significant changes the industry has seen over MIPIM’s three decades. He does mention deals and dominance, of course. Best fasten your seatbelt, Filippo.

20190312 065859

20190312 065859

Also, what is CORPORATE YOGA? Do you have to wear a suit?

20190312 081154

20190312 081154

8:06 Wallace Sampson

Landed safely (just about!) after a bumpy flight into Nice yesterday afternoon and had the opportunity to meet fellow Leeds City Region delegates. The region has a strong presence and I’m looking forward to the event starting this morning.

There’s a real buzz about the place, with about 20,000 delegates attending during the course of the week. This is a first for Harrogate, and our attendance is both noted and appreciated.

7:43 Kieren Majhail

A sea of grey suits queuing up passes this morning as MIPIM 2019 officially kicks off. It’s funny how the biggest property conference, where billions of pounds worth of projects are showcased and where quality design, placemaking and urban regeneration are promoted, takes place in the most uninspiring, ugly buildings and temporary structures! Well, at least the surrounding view is beautiful.

Kieren 3

Maybe we need to sprinkle a bit of our Boxpark magic over it – Roger Wade, didn’t you say you were looking for new sites? Anyway, anyone know how to say ‘vegan croissant’ in French?!

7:25 Sasha Bhavan

We arrived last night to a city on pause. The restauranteurs were mending decks and repairing screens; they smiled and said bonjour. The locals played boules by the marina. We relaxed in the sunshine, awaiting the onslaught of tomorrow. Cannes is a good place to be. 



Breakfast in the sunshine, recovering from last night’s RIBA dinner. Linda, Tom and their team surpassed themselves – lavish dinner and great company. Catching up with dear friends Caroline Dove, Henning Stummel and Alice Dawson. 

Arranged an impromptu meeting with others for later on Tuesday to share fee info. Where is the line between profit and slavery? Architects notoriously undersell themselves. 

Ben Derbyshire spoke about Brexit impact and the RIBA’s £20 million windfall. Need to talk to Alan about how to spend it?  

6:44 Tania Love

Beaming with North-East pride reading Invest Newcastle’s headline stats about the region. Will beam even more when our flight actually takes off. ’Awaiting paperwork to be completed.’ Not sure that line would wash with prop industry clients. Be with you all very soon hopefully… minor false start to the marathon! Is it a MI-PIN hair day in Cannes?

20190312 051846

Monday 11 March

23:21 Angela Dapper

Managed to squeeze in two evening events, with London First being, of course, first. We made it in time to see the presentations, which were optimistic about development and investment in London, Liverpool and Birmingham. The best comments were from Jules Pipe, the London deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, who emphasised the need for not just any development, but the right type of development. ’We need to make London a fantastic success for the people in it. It needs the right kind of housing, in the right place.’

Img 20190311 193915

After the London First event I snuck out to the NLA/LFA dinner, which was delicious, and I was in great company. We had a very passionate discussion about the Tulip (aka cotton bud) proposal in London. It seems that the Tulip might be even more divisive than Brexit.

22:31 Tarek Merlin

Great first day settling into Cannes. Successfully checked in and completed the obligatory supply run to the local supermarché, catching up on work emails in between. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I have agreed to host a yoga session on the beach at 7:30 tomorrow morning (don’t ask, long story), so quite good that I’m tucked up in bed at 23:00. Surprisingly tame I know, but it’s going to be a long week. 

Had a great evening at the RIBA at MIPIM dinner earlier, catching up with everyone who’s going to be on the RIBA stand this week. Joined at our end of the table by the inimitable Claire Bennie, honorary guest, so lots of pep talk about the lunch we’re holding with the RIBA tomorrow on small practices and public procurement. 

Right. Yoga. 07:30. Sleep. 

18:42 Angela Dapper

Day one at MIPIM started in the Gatwick lounge where we bumped into a number of familiar faces before our early morning easyJet flight. Three out of the four all-female Grimshaw MIPIM team landed in Cannes early on Monday so we had the day to ourselves to plan out our week. Tonight the other two are off to London First opening drinks, while I am flying solo at the NLA/LFA MIPIM dinner. It should be fun, although it’s always slightly daunting attending events on your own (and then trying to remember where your apartment is after).  

Chilling out on day one was great. We met fellow architect Robert Douge and crashed his meeting with his client. We sat in the sun drinking rosé, full of energy and enthusiasm for the week ahead. I hope the rest of the week is this lovely.  

Angela dapper monday

Angela dapper monday

Pictured left to right: Andi Kercini, MHA London; Robert Douge, MW-A; Angela Dapper, Grimshaw – sitting in the sun, showing off our promo items for MIPIM

Tomorrow, hopefully, I will be up early enough for yoga on the beach.

18:36 Leo Pemberton

Leoandtheteam  day1

Flying in from Stansted on a far-too-early flight, we’ve touched down in Cannes and we’re ready to kick off MIPIM 2019! So far, the vibe in the town is relaxed with the best tables on La Croisette free for the taking, but I’m sure tomorrow will be a different story! Despite strong winds, the sun is out, and we hosted a lunch for friends on the seafront, got our first taste of chilled rosé and compared notes on what to expect from the week ahead. 

Our thoughts turned to the brave cyclists who we hope are being helped along by tailwinds on the final leg of their journey – we look forward to welcoming them into town tomorrow afternoon. 

Tonight, we head off to the Holistic ‘Go Dutch’ networking event and dinner, we can’t wait to get our hands on their fantastic MIPIM survival kits. Trust us on this, they come in handy. 

Fun fact about Cannes; it may come as no surprise to anyone walking up and down La Croisette that Cannes is home to more luxury goods shops than any other French location outside of Paris!

17:05 Ben Derbyshire

Tomorrow, I start the day on a panel to discuss ‘Housing The Powerhouse’ in the Sheffield stand. MIPIM attracts more and more local authorities competing for attention with bigger and bigger stands. London and Manchester are now joined by the West Midlands Combined Authority all with their own marquees. Later in the week, I’m talking on the Liverpool stand with Paul Monaghan lately appointed as the city’s design adviser.

Over lunch, I chair a discussion with some of the smaller practices in the RIBA delegation about their struggles with public procurement – more of that later. Then, in the afternoon, I welcome my partners on the Club Peloton ride arriving at the quayside in Cannes. Riette Oosthuizen, our planning partner is the first woman from the HTA team to make the trip by bike. Sandy Morrison, an old hand, is somehow finding the time to sketch on the stopovers. You can check his output @SandysDrawings.

I’m told efforts are being made to curb excesses of machismo on the ride – backing off pressure on the less athletic to take time out in the backup bus. Me, I’d rather take up David Lunts’ suggestion of a gentle downhill ride from Aix en Provence. Still, the HTA crew have managed to raise £35,000 for the Coram Foundation. 

13:55 Mark Shaw

Arrived in sunny France. People have been asking me ‘What is MIPIM?’ to which I reply ‘a property conference’. I’m not sure what that means so I have been asking myself a few things.

Last week I tweeted about how I was keen to blog about small practices at MIPIM. Is Studioshaw a ‘small practice’ or, as we are fewer than 10 people, are we just a ’normal’ practice (70 per cent of UK architects are employed in practices of under 10 people)? Is MIPIM worthwhile for normal practices? Can we network and grow the business successfully here? 

I think micro-networks may be an important factor this week… with a daunting, endless sea of people, I think it might be useful to connect with like-minded individuals. Hence the cycling crew. I am part of the FreeholdLGBT group and so will be interesting to see what that is like.

I am travelling with fellow RIBA standers Tarek Merlin, and Joe Haire and Dicky Lewis from White Red Architects. We are sharing an Airbnb, and swapping networking tips and business ideas – more micro-networking. 

So far chatted to Julian from DMFK Architects on the plane. They have grown from a small practice to a normal-sized one and have attended MIPIM several times so… maybe it did help them. 

12:17 Ada Yvars Bravo

On board easyJet from Barcelona to Nice. Unbelievable… even the magazine is full of architecture these days. I prefer the swimmer. 



11:52 Emily Pallot

Riding as one team

It’s the beginning of Day 4, and so far we have cycled several hundred miles across various French landscapes. Throughout the ride I’ve been impressed by the team work and camaraderie in the group. The people on this ride come from a variety of backgrounds (most with property-related jobs) but share an interest in cycling. Some only picked up road cycling in the new year, while others are experienced cyclists. Despite this mix of abilities the sense of teamwork has meant that everyone, no matter their level, can enjoy the ride.

So far we’ve experienced more than enough rain alongside an unrelenting headwind (deafening at times), which when cycling across the exposed plains and hills of northern France, has certainly been a challenge. Yesterday our ride captains decided that our two teams would support each other rather than working as two separate groups when cycling into the headwind for our 71k stage from Dampierre to Essoyes. Stronger riders were put at the front to streamline the wind away from the riders behind. The wind breaks at the front were complemented by a moving chain gang at the back, where we all took turns to share the work against the wind. The weather got worse, with the rain painfully hitting my face (no glasses was a mistake) and at stages I could actually taste mud in my mouth and feel it in my contact lenses. For the final stage (Moloy to Dijon, 41km) the ladies steadily lead the peloton up to the top of the mountain and the descent into Dijon.


Riding with one focus

The teamwork also extends into our joint focus of raising money for Coram, the UK’s oldest children’s charity. Everyone has been working hard to raise money for the charity – from office bake sales to organising team sponsored jerseys and hosting pub quizzes. The work Coram does is really incredible and such a worthy cause for this challenge, so it’s great to know that we have raised over £370,000 for them so far.

Riding as one team

The event would be impossible without the support and organisation of Club Peloton and the wider team who have supported the riders. The physios, paramedics, motorcyclists, mechanics, cooks, drivers and everyone else work incredibly long days to make sure the event operates smoothly. 


Riding as one international team

The event is a great way of experiencing the welcoming French people. I’ve been overwhelmed by the difference in attitude between France and the UK towards cyclists on the road – people pulling over to let us pass, and encouraging and cheering us on!

On day three we had lunch at a town hall in a small village, where the hall was shared with the primary school children. They made English flags and waved us out while singing ‘Hello, Goodbye’ by The Beatles. At this point we felt quite guilty for not having a French song prepared to sing back to them.

11:36 Kieren Majhail

I’m on my way to Cannes and I’ve already bumped into Andy Street, West Midlands mayor, at Birmingham International Airport. He was his usual cheery, friendly enthusiastic self. He’s one of the reasons why I have every faith that now is the time for the Midlands to finally be propelled successfully on to the world’s stage, and be known for more than just the home of balti!

Andy and his team at the West Midlands Combined Authority have the perfect mix of business sense, experience and ‘swagger’ – let’s see what they can do. Anyway, he reminded me to take sunglasses, so I’m off to the duty free to buy some!

10:08 Ben Derbyshire

Arriving at Cannes. My first gig is the Monday night supper for the practices participating on this year’s RIBA stand. This year there are 35 practices of varying sizes, and it feels really good to have such a solid representation of the profession. It’s an endorsement of the RIBA that some who have been attending for years have chosen to join the mission. There was a permanent, healthy bustle around the RIBA stand last year and that clearly has not gone unnoticed.

If I’m right, this could be the beginning of something more significant post-Brexit. The RIBA already organises trade missions in combination with the Department for International Trade, and we are increasingly working towards an international strategy in collaboration with the British Council. Meanwhile, I have been leading on global alliances with institutes around the world, so the RIBA can more effectively argue the case for the profession’s involvement in tackling climate change. So as president, to have the backing of such a substantial delegation feels like a big boost. 

Mind you, I’m challenged as to what to say about our nation’s effort to build bridges rather than reinforce borders, as I give my welcoming address to the 60 or so representatives of our mission. All I can really say is that the debate back home in Westminster the very next day had better live up to its billing as a ‘meaningful vote’. Our government has delivered nothing at all meaningful so far, in the sense that it has given us certainty to plan for. So, hey, here we all are in Cannes waiting to hear what they have in mind for us. At least the sun’s out.

7:10 Tarek Merlin

On our way to MIPIM (very) early this morning. And it’s not exactly been a delightful experience. Security wasn’t too bad, but it’s the route in to the main departure hall that caused the most debate. 

Whoever redesigned the Stansted retail experience needs to be… well, at least heavily chastised. The hideously snaking, seemingly never-ending circuitous route into the departure hall is everything that is wrong with airport retail design. 

Completely ignoring any semblance of the original design intent of the main airport, the convoluted route, obviously designed to maximise retail frontage, ignores desire lines, forcing customers to walk in one snaking direction which inevitably just causes chaos and frustration. A mix of time-pressured business travellers, perambulating toddlers, slacker students, elderly couples, tourists and first-time travellers collide in the maze.


Anyway. A sunny morning leaving london. And our motley crew of small practices is looking forward to a fun week. 

Sunday 10 March

20:38 Ben Derbyshire

I estimate it must be 20 years since my first visit to MIPIM in Cannes. As I pack for this year’s trip, forgive me as I plagiarise the voiceover of the trailer for March of the Penguins 2:

‘Ten years on [20 in my case]… The epic journey… A new adventure awaits… the harshest place on Earth [ok, the forecast is sunshine but it does sometimes rain]… The family finds a way [it certainly feels like a gathering of the clan]… March of the Penguins – The Next Step… cue Symphonia Antarctica’

Of course there are misgivings. The only reason we indulge in this unsustainable annual migration is because everyone else does – FOMO, as I’m told they call it these days, turns out to be a powerful force. This year, we are told housing minister Kit Malthouse may show up on Thursday, but otherwise, and with splendid irony, as the government’s attempts to extricate us from the EU continue to stall, it seems that the failure of the political class to reach agreement will see them miss out.

Despite the apparently self-defeating behaviour of the penguins, the march goes on. So off we go again. Mind you, this year the Nice tram extension will at least connect the airport to the train station – so there really is no need to spend €100 on a cab. Looking forward to trying it.

19:39 Kieren Majhail

Looking forward to the sun tomorrow in Cannes, a measly high of three degrees and snow in the Midlands today! 

So first challenge of the week is what shoes to take? My seven-year-old daughter suggests my pink heels, but if I want to be able to walk the following week, I think I’ll have to stick to the flats! 



Saturday 9 March

12:39 Kieren Majhail

Had such a busy week running up to MIPIM. Trying to make sure work goes out to clients and that the team know what they need to do while I’m away. Last-minute planning and organising my schedule for the week ahead. Busy with International Women’s Day events – had the opportunity to talk alongside Ruth Reed, the first female president of the RIBA.

But at the same time constantly guilty that the week before being away from my three-year-old (for the first time) I’m super busy! The life of a working mother, trying to balance ambition with quality time with the children! A lot of the time us mothers don’t get it right, and the balance tips towards work commitments far too easily, as we find it difficult to say ‘no’ to challenges and opportunities that would not normally come our way.

So much is stacked against us in our industry: gender bias, inflexibility in working hours, parenting commitments clashing with work, over-commitment in both work and home life, and if that doesn’t wear us out the emotional drain of guilt will! My pre-MIPIM mother guilt release.

Friday 8 March

14:50 Tarek Merlin

So we are in the final run up and MIPIM fever has taken over our studio. I can’t believe it’s come around so quickly. It’s my first time back in a while and I’m filled with one-part excitement, one-part trepidation and multiple parts generally just not quite sure what to expect/FOMO about not having an invite to some glam Tom Bloxham party in the hills … working on it 😉 

I’m really looking forward to all the events we do have lined up and have hopefully struck the right balance between organised meetings (including some 8:30 coffee mornings 😐), hanging out on the RIBA London stand and leaving enough time for impromptu schmoozing/late night networkathons in pubs and cafés on the Croisette.

Tarek merlin

We have a little lunch planned on the Tuesday with the RIBA which I’m really excited about. It’s off the back of the AJ article I wrote to discuss public procurement and small practices. SME practices make up 70 per cent of the profession but can often end up being excluded from procurement processes, so we’re trying to bridge the gap between clients and SMEs! 

Ok so, there are 500 business cards sitting on my desk waiting to come with me, to join the Ibuprofen, Gaviscon, Berocca and fresh breath mints I’ve been advised to also bring along. See you there! 

Thursday 7 March

19:05 Emily Pallot

Anxiety begins before Cylcle to MIPIM starts – a mixture of nerves about the challenge of cycling from London to Cannes increased by the nightmare that is packing.

Having never done the ride before, I have relied on helpful tips from colleagues, alongside seeking advice from various people I have met on the series of Club Peloton training rides. Despite all this, I’ve to some extent run into this quite blindly…

Being a busy person and relying on convenience has meant that I definitely should have planned the bag-packing tactic and kit much earlier; I found myself frantically ordering kit, food, power banks and various adaptors in the last week and spent the majority of the two days before the ride packing.

Acg mipim cycle kit 1

Acg mipim cycle kit 1

About two weeks before the ride, I started to create my first ever packing spreadsheet. So much to think about: planning for all weathers including freezing cold mornings and evenings (cycling from 6am to late at night) – alongside the possibility of being drenched by rain and therefore needing to change kit during the day. On the other hand, thinking and hoping for sunnier weather… but with this, another kit list of sun cream and a cap for under the helmet, not to mention lots of baby wipes for those hot and sweaty days in between showers…

In all honesty, my spreadsheet went out the window. I ended up just frantically throwing outfit combinations into bags. My spreadsheet made me feel better but in reality what I learned was there’s only so much planning you can do, and sometimes just * getting on with it * is so much easier. 

The amount of stress I felt lifted once all bags were safely loaded and out of my control. Now I can focus on the challenge of the cycle with the knowledge that I have prepared well. Although I suppose if I haven’t there will be nothing I can do anyway!

16:35 Leo Pemberton

Enjoyed my pre-MIPIM planning session this morning with the Bespoke team. For the first time in years I’m not taking the Cannes Cannes Express – it’s Jet2 this time! The forecast is looking good (no rain!) but it’s MIPIM so I’ll be taking my brolly just in case.

We’re looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues at the usual haunts (Manchester Bar is always a fave) and to joining some interesting talks in the London stand and the UK government pavilion. ‘Health, wellbeing and happiness – the search for the Holy Grail’ sounds like a good one. See you down there! 

Illustration and animation by Huiyan Wang



MIPIM 2019: The AJ Blog

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more