Our bloggers will be keeping you up to date with what’s happening at the world’s biggest property fair
Sunday 19 March
Thursday started with a number of meetings and followed by lunch with a new potential client. Despite the fatigue you can’t help but buy into the energy of Cannes; the sunshine certainly helps.
In the afternoon I had two panel discussions which were really enjoyable to take part in. The first was for the City of London which was debating the benefit of being located in the City, now referred to as ‘the original co-working space’.
Afterwards Peter Murray hosted a large and lively discussion around the NLA London model where we debated the densification of London under the heading ‘Up or Out’? While partaking in some light refreshment afterwards around the back of the stand, our high-jinx is summed up by a photo of us enjoying Coffey’s cocktails. My seriousness as a delegate is not helped by the fact that a certain sharp-eyed social media commentator noticed I had a drink in each hand!
Friday is actually the final day of MIPIM but it seems like nobody has told the majority of the delegates. Although the Palais and all the associated pavilions are still open the population has dropped dramatically, and there is hardly a navy blue suit in sight as the vast majority of people head for the airport and back home.
After a few hours exploring some of the outlying stands I take a little time to go on a Le Corbusier pilgrimage. I head to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the train to see his small summer residence know as Le Cabanon. His holiday retreat is a very modest but also a spectacular use of space at a mere 16 sqm. It’s located on the coast immediately adjacent to his favourite restaurant and a small series of holiday cabins that he also designed. Corbusier was introduced to the area by Eileen Gray who built her house E1027 on the site next door in 1926. If you are ever in the area it is well worth a visit.
After the visit a hike up to the nearby Chateau Medieval de Roquebrune, which my phone tells me is the equivalent of ‘83 floors climbed’. It’s the perfect antidote to hanging around Cannes ‘networking’ and generally ‘consuming’.
That evening when I start packing and I am pleased that I have less to bring home than I brought out. However, I struggle with some of the more unusually sized business cards and have to resort to unusual methods.
Time to get out of Cannes and back to those non-existent Lenten promises.
Saturday 18 March
MIPIM 2017 Top Trumps.
Best new meet: John McElgunn. Sharp mind, sharp dress score - 32… inch waistcoat
Best drinker: Julia Barfield (on the espresso martinis). Won’t get to sleep score - for another six hours
Name and number of new developer opportunities. You think I’m telling you score - No chance
Best new team member: Margaret Ravenscroft. Making stuff happen score - All the time
Best breakfast: David Partridge. Humility score - minus 1 (don’t want it to go to his head)
Best lunch: Roger Zogolovitch’s lazy lunch. FOMO score - Only been invited once?
Best dinner: AECOM Thursday night. Mike Staples story length score - 1 hour 40 minutes without breath
Best bar: Manchester Bar (street). Drink quantity score - 12 pints
Worst bar: Manchester Bar (pavilion). Lack of drink quantity score - zero rosé
Best moderator: Paul Finch. Bob Monkhouse joke score - 74 (or 76)
Best dinner guest: Colm Lacey. Seven sites with one client score - Show off
Most missed event: Tom Bloxham’s Friday party. People still turning up uninvited score - several
Friday 17 March
The bill to leave the EU received Royal Assent during the week with ironic timing as we attended MIPIM. The event is a good opportunity to find out about the real drivers of the property market and study changes post-referendum.
As architects we are usually blissfully unaware of where the money comes from to fund our projects. I was surprised to find in 2008 that our banks had been lending huge amounts to fuel Dubai’s growth. I had always assumed they were using their own money - but why would they?
This MIPIM, I sat at a lunch next to a build-to-rent developer whose money, about £1 billion, comes mainly from an American pension fund and he, along with many others, was bullish about this investment continuing post-Brexit.
There are conflicting trends though. In 2016 there has been 50 per cent drop in investment from the USA, down to $6.6 billion and a 37 per cent drop from Canada, down to $2 billion.
Conversely Germany’s investment in UK property is up 65 per cent to $1.7 billion and Australia’s up a massive 90 per cent, although only $500 million, but still similar to UAE.
What was noticeable at MIPIM was a blatant but understandable attempt by Berlin and particularly Paris to attract businesses from London.The latter has a crass slogan which includes a photo of a frog on a deck chair.
If I were a fund manager I might prefer the occasional fog.
The other change at MIPIM was a positive concerted effort by DTI to promote UK regions with towns and cities like Leicester, Nottingham and Derby acting in unison to attract investment in new industries and businesses. Better infrastructure and HS2 connectivity will drive these opportunities and the attempt is to be applauded. Maybe if it had happened sooner these towns and cities along with others promoted at MIPIM would not have voted for Brexit?
Overall a great opportunity to see all sides of our industry and get a rounded picture of the trends and opportunities.
We sponsor the Boules on the Wednesday afternoon which is a relaxed atmosphere to network away from the hectic events. But by the semi-finals it does start to get a little competitive. Thats the nature of MIPIM, I guess.
Chris willaimson boules
Know your place.
Yesterday I was approached, welcomed into, introduced, squeezed in, bear hugged, trapped and left out.
At 15.30 I was talking in the final presentation at the London stand. Organised at the last minute, a wonderful send off to Coffey Architects in MIPIM. Feeling important. Must prepare…feeling nervous…must impress.
I was approached in the morning by the RIBA, Lambeth Council, Carolyn Larkin, Tom Bloxham, Peter Murray, Pat Brown, Freddy Flintoff, lovely ‘high-powered’ moments… Presentation in three hours.
Sat writing this blog on a shared table in the Manchester Bar, Simon Gawthorpe of Urban Splash welcomed me into a conversation with his esteemed colleagues. We chatted about a development he once did where one of the tenants genuinely believed Saddam Hussein was living under their bath. Presentation in two hours.
Lunch started with three at Da Laura, ended with eight of us, as more people squeezed in. Clearly the table to be at. Da Laura is my new go-to-restaurant. Fabulous burrata, tomatoes and bread. No wine. Presentation in an hour.
Back in the London tent about to start preparing a three-minute presentation on tall buildings, Kai-Uwe of BIG bear-hugged me - it’s his rather lovely way of saying ‘Hi’, and as usual he introduced me to some interesting people. Three developers from Munich. Presentation in 30 minutes.
Wonderful opportunity. I talked them through our work and discussed London, offered them books and thanked them for their time. Fifteen minutes to presentation in front of the discerning MIPIM delegates. No preparation.
Either the prospective clients were enjoying my pitch so much they wanted to keep talking or they misunderstood my hints to depart. Trapped. Five minutes to presentation… finally we shake hands and they leave.
Panic. Laser pointer. Thoughts. Notes. Mini clusters. PTAL. DRAM. Transport infrastructure. DRP. Make a narrative… create a story. One minute to presentation. I’m unprepared. What am I going to say?
Peter Murray on stage introduces the speakers. It’s an incredible line-up, a real coterie of fine brains. One by one their CVs are read out: Laura Mazzeo (Farrells’ tallest tower in China by UK company); John McElgunn (RSHP’s Leadenhall Building); Victoria Hills (CEO Old Oak, pictured); councillors; ministers; seasoned journalists… I genuinely thought the prime minister was going to make a surprise appearance… and then thankfully the call out ended. And I’m not on the list.
Thank f*** for that.
Coffey Architects has just been instructed on a 35-storey tower in Southwark, we’ve undertaken research on PTAL and possible tram routes… we are working on lots of housing schemes throughout London… but we have never pretended to be something that we are not.
This is a slow game, and that was a lucky escape.
Know your place.
Every year I stay just that little bit too long at MIPIM, but every year I want to go back again.
Thursday was tough but I eventually made it out to meet with an old mentor and I took one final look at the ever-increasing London model map.
It’s like a middle-aged dad’s out-of-control Lego habit not being kept in check by his squeezed-middle income.
I heard Paul Finch’s LOL closing speech which was heavily cribbed from Bob Monkhouse (and also 2016). The true inspiration for the curves in our CLT pavilion with Coffey for LendLease in the Queen Elizabeth Park also became apparent in the London stand (pictured)…
Some regrets from the week surfaced on my way home yesterday:
- Wish I’d got more time for a meaningful chat with the ever-amusing Russell Curtis and the avuncular Tim Riley from RCKa Moscow.
- I should really have tried harder for at least a 15-minute catch-up with James Bishop of U&I, having enjoyed his company so much in 2015, but he always looked pretty engaged every time I saw him.
- I wish I could remember more from the early hours of Thursday morning.
Never mind, you can’t beat yourself up about these things. There’s always next year.
Highlights of the year were:
- Our beach party - natch
- The £100’s of millions of new work I’ve landed – obvs
- Witnessing the coming of age of my colleague James Morgan as a real MIPIM mover and shaker. Dude knows everyone and he was a joy to watch. I think I’ve got a crush.
A word of warning for all those leaving MIPIM today. Nice airport is bobbins. There really is nothing to do there unless you can stomach Costa. Stay on those boats as long as possible before commencing your trip home.
Finally got in bed last night at midnight, then jerked awake again at 3am by Child No.2 barking with croup. ‘You might be a structural engineer for a design-led practice with a reputation for intelligent, practical and innovative solutions… but you’re also a dad, and don’t forget it’ - it seemed to say.
MIPIM does things to people. Some go mad, some run away. Others assume an entitled self-satisfied swagger they imagine is what success looks like. I overheard one person explaining seriously that she gets so many dinner invitations because she is so ‘fun’. Another boasting about the great exposure they were generating. And of course there’s the perennial stream of ‘excellent’ meetings that people claim to have had.
But once MIPIM starts shaping you, things have already gone wrong. Use it rather than let it use you.
Me? Well, I gravitate towards the wise council, the Finches and Zogolovitches (or O’Golovitch as he somehow became know this year) who seem to regard the affair - in the most affable manner - both a pleasure and a chore.
MIPIM isn’t a place to prove yourself. It’s not really the place to make formal business contacts. Instead it generates a kind of intelligence. You get to see a little more about how things work, where things are happening and what kind of things are happening. It’s not foreground, but deep background that is its most valuable lesson.
Thursday 16 March
Au revoir, Cannes.
On the plane back to London. Against expectation and despite cynicism that can’t be helped - It was absolutely worth it.
Who would have thought that there was a rich seam of like-minded people with a social purpose at MIPIM, as Dinah Bornat put it? And it turns out that there are platforms for people who want to make a difference.
Glad to go home though and not too upset to miss the karaoke night…
The highlight today was Gavin Barwell’s speech to the Essential Living lunch at the Palm D’Or - he absolutely nailed it. It’s very clear that we now have a minister who really understands what needs to be done to sort housing and to promote London.
Sitting in my garret, my little two-star near the train station, I’m reflecting on my MIPIM. There is a very after-party feel to Thursday evening. The circus has moved on and the stragglers are having their last meetings before the final whistle.
The real value of this place is meeting as many people as possible so you can have greater choice in who you work with. Great projects, neighbourhoods and cities rely on partners who enjoy working with each other and share values. Yes, there’s lot of crap and rude men (who hate trainers) here for the deal, the profit, but among the crap there are people who want to make a difference, do something special. Those are the people I’ve been meeting with, those are the people who came to the Croydon on the Beach session this morning to hear our story, and those are the people who will be part of our journey.
Cannes beginning to empty, restaurant tables suddenly available, taxi services enjoying a mid-afternoon boom.
Scheduled meetings happen or are rescheduled – causing diary chaos, but it is the chance encounter that really makes the event tick.
Setting up a temporary office on a south-facing bench on La Croisette has led to good conversations with developers who are active in the London ‘doughnut’, and UK-wide.
Exciting new model
Maybe a big lunch taking its toll… but excited to see this model unveiled of a new tower for the city. All they need now is a snappy name. Any suggestions?
Just opened my copy of the AR MIPIM Future Projects Awards catalogue. It’s nice to see our rebrand in print for the first time. Check out our website to watch a serious of films where architects like Simon Allford and Patrik Schumacher talk about what they look for when hiring.
Finally getting the hang of MIPIM on day three. Had a 9.00 meeting with potential client who was absolutely charming in the face of an early start.
Went into the bunker for the first time. See photos of funny shaped towers - I thought they were a thing of the past… The antidote? French bandstand delight and a panorama of the city far from the madding crowd. It’s always good to get a new perspective of a city… but then I would say that.
Reflecting on a very full day two. Starting with a Paris / London entente cordiale on the UK government stand, followed by a roundtable discussion with the Londonon group formulating a collaborative approach to international expansion - the youthful enthusiasm was catching.
Lunch with Ben Derbyshire and Jackie Sadek to discuss the RIBA. Ben clearly has ‘fire in his belly’ to get the RIBA to embrace change for the good - very impressive. With the average age of RIBA members at 57, something needs to change! The afternoon featured a quick catch up with Price & Myers and Tim Lucas about our drinking water fountain project.
Many serendipitous encounters throughout the day including Noel Farrer, the omnipresent Phil Coffey, ex-MBA employee Dan Burr - now a partner at Shepard Robson - Ed Lister, Pam Alexander, Jo Negrini, Lucy Musgrave and the fabulous Francis Charamel, CEO of Sigma, who oversaw the building of the i360 pod.
One disappointment - fellow director Magali Thomson encountered some outrageous casual everyday sexism at the Boules matches - shocking that an architect and three bankers thought it appropriate to make lewd comments to three professional women in 2017!
Tamsie Thomson of the London Festival of Architecture raised the spirits with the LFA’s excellent study of the value architecture brings to the UK: £1.7 billion, with growth outstripping creative industries and the London economy as a whole! Who knew!? Well done Tamsie and the GLA.
Sitting in my garret, my little 2 star near the train station, I’m reflecting on my MIPIM. There is a very after-party feel to Thursday evening. The circus has moved on and the last stragglers are having their last meetings for the week before the final whistle.
The real value of this place is meeting as many people as possible so you can have greater choice in who you work with. Great projects, neighbourhoods and cities rely on partners who enjoy working with each other and share values. Yes, there’s lot of crap here and rude men (who hate trainers) here for the deal, the profit; but amongst the crap, there are people who want to make a difference, do something special. Those are the people I’ve been meeting with, those are the people who came to the Croydon on the beach session this morning to hear our story and those are the people who will be part of our journey.
Highs and lows of my MIPIM 2017.
- The weather. It was glorious.
- There was surprisingly little Brexit talk.
- The series of talks in the Department for International Trade tent.
- Discovering a week before we left that the hotel we’d paid for last May didn’t actually exist.
- Getting ripped off in Pastis where a dinner for five, which should have cost less than €100 per head, cost us €1,750. Apparently it wasn’t possible to print an itemised bill?!
- The London stand. Maybe it’s just me but I think it’s been the same old set up for too long. Personally, I feel I’ve seen the model too many times, and its ever-increasing size dominates the space and prohibits circulation. The London pavilion used to be located up the steps to the right of the entrance, its beautiful terrace providing the perfect spot to enjoy the wonderful harbour view. The sandcastle just didn’t do it for me.
Bye, bye Cannes. See you next year.
Always my favourite super Cannes interior at the JW Marriot, venue for the AR MIPIM Future Projects Awards. So much redundant luxury packed into one lobby.
Wednesday afternoon was interesting. I spent the afternoon on the Arup boat listening to a talk about unlocking land value through transportation improvements. Studies show that prices for commercial property were over 16 per cent higher when close to a railway station, and residential over 4 per cent. Close being defined as up to 400m for offices and 1km for homes.
As we know funding is an issue for all transport improvements, with more of the cash coming through alternative means such as higher business rates, developers’ contributions and other sources. Land value and the way we use it might fundamentally change our approach to planning our infrastructure.
Isabel Dedring of Arup presented a very strong case for new routes and extensions to the rail network to be determined by development areas and not by tunnelling engineers and geology. Creating at a stroke a symbiotic link between funding and strategic planning. It all sounded so sensible that you wonder why it isn’t done that way already.
Graeme Craig finished the talk by outlining some of the things his team at TfL are doing to reorganise their property portfolio. It was truly inspiring to hear the scope of the work, which ranged from consolidating storage for the Transport Museum to realise land, to discovering hidden pockets of land and buildings that are in their ownership which have lain untouched for years. Whatever happens, TfL is sure to become a major player for development in London in all sorts of ways.
Then, a stopover at the London stand terrace to have some final catch ups and soak up some rays. I went briefly to the Mott Macdonald ‘Croydon on the Beach’ drinks which served Cronx craft beers, brewed in south London and brought all the way here for our pleasure. Perversely refreshing.
I then headed down the Croisette for the AR MIPIM Future Projects Awards hosted by the irrepressible, irreplaceable Paul Finch. It’s a good event which licks through awards at a fine pace. (Other award ceremonies could learn a thing or two from this one.) The winners are well spread globally, avoiding any London-centricity and from the few images on show, the winners were very diverse in their resolution. That’s shorthand for some being inspiring and some looking a bit studenty, but nonetheless all of them looked interesting.
So without the siren call of the now defunct Carlton Club, I made a pitstop at the Manchester Bar. Full to the gunwales with the great and the good of UK architecture. After which I trudged back to the smallest accommodation in the developed world, where I ran the gauntlet of being branded like a prize steer every time I used the toilet (who installs a burning hot towel rail 150mm from the front of a toilet seat?! Building Regs seemingly have no place in Cannes.)
Despite its debauched reputation, MIPIM has changed in my view. Yes, it’s relentless in terms of events, meetings, drinking and rich food. However it feels like there has been a change and it seems much more structured, business-like and dare I say it, serious. My highlights were the talks at both the London stand and the DIT pavilion.
If you haven’t been, I’d try it out. My advice would be do it for a few days at first, get a ticket, join the London club, structure your days, arrange invitations to lunch and dinners early, book your flights and accommodation this month for 2018 and just go with its energy, don’t fight it. In my experience at least, MIPIM always wins in the end!
Manchester style and swagger from Tom Bloxham on their glamorous beachfront pavilion - ahead of tonight’s Europa League encounter.
HTS is overwhelmed with the amazing turnout for our beach party yesterday. 240+ guests in the most stunning setting knocks last year’s attendance into a cocked hat! Some last minute on-the-spot negotiations from our brilliant marketing manager Alethea Cininas pushed the party on for an hour longer than anticipated. Keeping the punters happy. Good to also see at least three of my fellow bloggers in attendance: Hal Currey, Phil Coffey and Tatiana von Preussen.
Last night’s dinner talk was about the research project Londonon, the rise of robots and what jobs this will leave behind for us, along the with ethical dilemmas facing the code-writers for Uber’s driverless cars.
Lots of non-industry celebs spotted yesterday in and around the backstreets of Cannes: Gary Neville, Phil Spector and Fred Flintstone (without Wilma).
Less pressure on today, couple of coffees planned with some old acquaintances and one last cheeky run around the London and Manchester stands with Andrew Heyne. Tempted to go deep and have a spin around the main bunker, but nervous it might take me 30 minutes to find my way out again, like a scene from Spinal Tap.
Energy levels are low, I’m running on fumes. Might be time for that tactical cry to get me through to the finishing line tonight.
‘No, I’m not drinking. I’ll have a beer.’ Andrea Klettner, having decided at lunch that any form of alcohol other than rosé clearly doesn’t count after two days in Cannes. There are a lot of people kidding themselves at MIPIM.
Why have a stand at MIPIM? Well, it’s an expensive way to charge your phone, keep the Nurofen handy and serve coffee and cocktails; it’s also an expensive way to host numerous other architects and engineers and talk shop; could have done that in London, could have taken a lot of people to lunch at Smiths. And I like Smiths. But… perhaps it’s also good for perception, for us, for our generation, for our community of architects, to feel like we belong here? Perhaps it’s good brand recognition for future clients? Perhaps it instils confidence in our current client base? Ever the optimist… am I a man not in possession of all the facts?
Yesterday’s morning session launched Londonon in the DIT tent. Roundtable discussion on pooling resource to ‘research’ in foreign cities with a group of likeminded small/medium sized architects. Research? Really? Are you sure this isn’t a purely commercial venture? Why do it otherwise? The AJ’s Richard Waite, provocative as ever. Architects wanting to learn? Seeking space to think and create, to find new ways to respond in an ever-quickening world? Pull yourself together man… be honest with yourself.
Lunch was spent discussing the housing big four, and how we as SMEs can think through policy, design, procurement and construction to break the hegemony in housing. Can we, the ‘Petits Fours’ (how very French) - Bell Phillips, Mae, Duggan Morris, Coffey - look to break into the mass market? Wishful thinking perhaps.
The afternoon and evening presented numerous opportunities for introductions, conversations and future appointments. I have to say to those people back in the UK, you really are missing out. There are numerous, multiple, many… many jobs being given away this week. In small meeting rooms and bars across Cannes. Developers have been holding on to jobs for weeks, months, just so they can agree a fee, a site, a design opportunity to inebriated architects whose hearing is clearly failing them. I can tell you for certain that those people who have secured their futures this week may not be telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The stand, the programmes, the thinking, the opportunities. Nothing concrete, and a huge investment, but I think this could be a game changer. Coffey Architects is in the big league.
Get a grip Phil. You’re just kidding yourself.
I am starting to feel a bit of fatigue now. The endless standing/chatting/drinking is beginning to take its toll. That is not helped by getting to bed at stupid o’clock.
The balance of meetings versus informal networking seems to be working well and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the accidental connections that came about yesterday.
I made it onto a couple of yachts to see how the other half live. The nicest one being the Otis boat, where we were welcomed with great hospitality.
The evening began with drinks on the beach at 16.00 followed by The Architectural Review Future Projects Awards dinner hosted by the wonderful Paul Finch. The after party took place at La Crillion, renamed ‘the Manchester Bar’ for the week. Early tentative friendships were cemented and strengthened into the small hours.
Today holds a number of meetings in the morning, and two speaking engagements this afternoon. 15.00: the NLA Discussion Forum focused on the City of London as the original co-working space. 15.30: a discussion about tall buildings around the large NLA model.
By 16.00 I suspect the evening will kick off again and lead us into the night. It feels a tiny bit like Groundhog Day.
On the easyJet flight heading back to Gatwick. The guy sitting next to us clearly hasn’t been to bed, and his beard is completely covered in glitter?
Tatiana von Preussen
It’s been a surreal couple of days and hard to find time between all the chance meetings and events to blog. Our first impression was of a tsunami of white men in blue suits, red lanyards and shades. We are used to being the only women at the table, but this is another level. Someone told us last night that there are 19,000 men here and 500 women. It could well be true. Still, it has its advantages! We are easily picked out in a crowd and we don’t struggle to get into parties! There is also a good camaraderie among the other women, and we are looking forward to the MIPIM Ladies event this afternoon.
Brilliant night last night courtesy of Heyne Tillett Steel. Started at their beautiful sundowner party on the beach and followed by a delicious dinner generously hosted by Tom Steel and Mark Tillett afterwards. More talk of Brexit through the night with a generally optimistic feeling from the developers and QSes we spoke to. Many were feeling the impact of the stamp duty hike much more keenly, but said that there were still plenty of investors around. We ended up back at the Manchester Bar where the architects were out in full force, along with the journalists and the councils again. Better male-female ratio than down by the boats, and some more design-conscious variations on the blue suit!
I’m still standing: after a late MIPIM night you need to channel you inner Elton John for the next day.
Met up with Tamsie Thomson from the London Festival of Architecture. She has some great research about the value of the profession to the UK. The government should recognise and promote this as it does the London Fashion Festival and the film industry.
- London’s architecture sector produced £1.7 billion in gross value added (GVA) – a measure of the value of goods and services produced
- The value of architecture in London may be undervalued by creative policy makers – the sector is 38 per cent bigger than the product, graphic and fashion design sector
- Architecture in London is growing by 7.6 per cent every year – overtaking the creative industries (3.9 per cent) and the London economy as a whole (3 per cent)
- London contributed around 42 per cent to the total GVA of UK’s architecture sector in 2015.
Wednesday 15 March
This is what hard work at MPIM looks like. The buzzword of the day is collaboration.
A prize for anyone who can name the occupant of the yellow shoe (tweet me).
Interesting to hear Graham Craig and Lester Hampton now promoting advertising and telecoms opportunities as part of TfL’s wider property estate infrastructure. And modular has a key part to play in new homes delivery on difficult sites, but critically - can it pass the time and legacy test? Eighty-five per cent of development is built within 1km of a transport node… apparently, another nod to Transport Oriented Development.
Good to be discussing housing plans with Legacy founders Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble this morning, and have Brexit positives featured in MIPIM news.
MIPIM Club Peloton riders enjoying the HTS reception at Plage Royale.
170315 pm blog post
Booked in to get a quick blow dry before the Future Projects Awards tonight. Had a bit of a bust up with the hairdresser about the appointment time. She seems to be taking out on my hair. God only knows what it’ll end up like.
Tatiana von Preussen
Sundown at the HTS party. Lovely evening after a day recovering from our first night at MIPIM: dinner with a great client led to many further new connections with developers working in housing. Lots of councils out and about and up late!
Thanks to Price & Myers for lunch on their balcony where Tamsyn Curley and I cooked up a plan for a MIPIM revolution for next year.
Then I gatecrashed a developer party… Coincidently, it turns out we’re reusing a pile of expensive granite for a public realm project that is currently sitting on a site that they are about to develop.
Bumped into a non-MIPIM gallerist friend so walked and talked looking at the very strange phenomenon of what you could call Cannes vernacular. At its best a hyper-strict Modernism with a twist of sickly luxe.
Great evening of unplanned networking last night. MIPIM at its best. Helped the cyclists demolish the (not) leaning tower of pizza, although I fear they may have needed the carbs more than me.
Also got intros to some nice guys from Make and Tim Bell from Bell Phillips. Got to catch up with the omnipresent Team Coffey (strangely without their leader) to talk in detail about the amazing work we’re doing together for U&I and Lendlease. The ever-friendly Tamsyn from Place_Careers was also on hand and kind enough to confirm that my blog was funnier than her husband’s, as long as we don’t tell him.
Nice chats too with Scott from Haptic, Katie from Hawkins\Brown (Manchester) and The Carl Turner.
Set off with the intention of going for a swim this morning. Somehow got redirected to rosé and strawberries on deck with the very welcoming Julian from Run dMFK. Their boat was an informal revolving deck of architects and developers baring their socks (see image), enjoying the sunshine and discussing current workloads on a floating haven of tranquillity.
HTS beach party this afternoon. The nerves are kicking in, but hopefully 200+ guests (thank goodness someone suggested name-tags) should be turning up. I’ll let you know how we get on!
Time for a disco-nap.
A slow start today, which I didn’t need a CSI team to work out was related to yesterday’s receptions, meal and after dinner drinks. I spent the first part of the morning in a roundtable at the DIT pavilion talking with newer and (very) successful London practices about their LondonOn initiative. This is a research-led proposition that will allow a collegiate group of practices to pick a city, fund trips and investigations in world centres and find out more about them. This wasn’t made explicit, but I think this is before the collective group of architects seeing if there are any real opportunities for new work. They say it’s mainly to provide a rich new perspective on other cities and feed that back into London, but why do it unless there aren’t new opportunities at the end of it? But maybe that’s just me!
As an idea it’s in its embryonic state, which is actually a good thing. It feels quite discursive but it seems like a powerful idea for young practices to get a global level of exposure. I am sure it will also prompt some inner reflections from each of the firms - Haptic, Coffey and Duggan Morris - to think about what is unique about themselves and how they can frame that offer in these new cities. I think this clarity around their offer will ultimately help them in London too. I loved the fact that it was about ideas primarily. As architects any chance to be less reactive and be more reflective provides a welcome intellectual respite to our everyday slog. I would also like to say it was very nice to finally meet fellow AJ blogger Julia Barfield, a true architectural entrepreneur with some great contributions to our discussion.
I’m about to go to the Arup boat now to talk land value, which should be interesting. I’m trying not to get too excited about the boat, after all it’s just a floating three-bed apartment in the marina. Isn’t it?
After that I’m off round the bunker and have a personal ambition to find that project in Senegal that looks like a display from an Ann Summers shop. They can’t be serious about that, can they? The things we do…
I would like to make the following public apologies for 14 March.
Apologies to all those who joined our beautiful stand at 9am in the morning. If we had remembered to charge the laptop you would not have had to watch ‘HDMI cable : Connect’ floating around our 46-inch television for half an hour. Nothing like first impressions.
Apologies to all those wondering why there’s no drink at the Manchester stand including Roger Hawkins, Tom Bloxham and Ian Simpson.
Apologies to Ian Simpson for telling him how much I like the Blackfriars building on too many occasions.
Apologies to those of you who missed Eric Parry talking eloquently about caves of shadow and his beautiful language of environmental sensitivity.
Apologies to Geoff Shearcroft for giving him such a bad sales pitch to a potential client. I was genuinely trying my best.
I’d like to say a big sorry to Ken Shuttleworth for asking him to find Somerset House on the London model within 10 seconds with my laser pointer (but only if you apologise for knocking down my family pub in Manchester).
Apologies to Paul Karakusevic and Richard Lavington for asking if we could have just one or two of their perimeter blocks at Meridian Water. I woke this morning to a text from Paul saying that they aren’t all perimeter blocks. Neatly sidestepped.
Apologies to Martin Francis for never meeting you before. I’d like to think that we are part of the lineage of thinking that was born at RFR. It was a real pleasure to meet you and your wife.
Apologies to Alan from Nex for failing to understand your land tax proposals over dinner.
Apologies to Roger Zogolovitch, one of the wisest men I know, for suggesting that just because he’d written a book on a subject we were arguing about… didn’t mean he was right.
Apologies to James O’Callaghan for not taking you home earlier.
Apologies to Matt Mason for rudely telling him to leave me alone to write this blog.
Looking forward to back-to-back events including Price & Myers’ rooftop lunch, Nottingham (strong promoters of cycling) and the annual beach party hosted by Savills.
So the iron throne from out of Game of Thrones is here. Appropriate really, as what is MIPIM but a compressed geography of warring cities and regions? Post Brexit and pre #indyref2, this is all the more true this year. Except the weapons are not swords but tote bags, models and panels. In fact it must only be a matter of time before someone builds the kind of clockwork model from the GoT opening credits to really set the scene.
High point: the sunny descent to Cannes in the company of 180 fellow cyclists after an intense pedal from London. Helped by the weather, superb organisation and each other, we have arrived!
Low point: locate hotel and quick change of wardrobe.
Refreshed – mood improved by an evening of drinks, dinner with Carolyn Larkin, Paul Monaghan, Tamsin Curley and Gus Zogolovitch to name a few. Julian de Metz has arrived by boat and was subject to a full search by the Douane - a sign of a diminishing Entente Cordiale?
A great first day yesterday. Started with some early morning meetings before a panel discussion with Paul Finch at the UK Department for International Trade pavilion. Nice to chat with fellow blogger Mark Middleton of Grimshaw who seem to have an identical version of ‘must attend’ events for the remainder of the day.
Cyclists at cannes
A brief lunch with the London Chamber of Commerce followed by a number of meetings dotted around the London stand and La Croisette. By late afternoon it was time to welcome the Cycle to Cannes team into town and think about some light refreshments.
The evening started with ‘The battle of the engineers’ – Mott MacDonald, Eckersley O’Callaghan and Elliot Woods all in close succession. All great events, but only one raised a real question about the structural integrity of a French terrace, which was Mott McDonald’s.
As the evening wore on, a series of good / poor decisions guided us from the style of the Intercontinental Carlton to a number of Irish pubs. I am beginning to regret my witty one-line biography.
Very interesting to hear about mayoral initiatives in Paris – international competition route allied to new infrastructure. Also encouraging was London deputy mayor James Murray’s emphasis on engaging people in development. Good to hear that the two cities will strengthen links.
The sun shone from a clear blue Mediterranean sky on La Croisette on Tuesday, and a walk along below the palm trees provided excellent networking opportunities. The afternoon was mostly concerned with eating a traditional French long lunch, where we had one guest from each discipline – builder, QS, architect, etc. The main topic of discussion was the trials and tribulations of Nine Elms.
Later on I went to the FTI party on the beach (and had a really interesting conversation with Paul Finch on Brexit) and then we hosted a dinner for our clients, including Essential Living, Deloitte, Phoenix and others.
Just went for a swim in the sea with Laura Mark. Gotta live a little… now back to the London stand.
Hold the front page! I’ve been invited on to a boat.
Fun afternoon yesterday at the Arup boat party which was bursting at the seams. Team Bespoke found ourselves a nice little spot on the top deck where we sipped rose and, without moving, managed to catch up with Ken Shuttleworth from Make, Jack Pringle from Perkins + Will, Paul White from Buckley Gray Yeoman, Andrew Taylor from Patel Taylor and the ever entertaining Mark Rowe from Penoyre & Prasad.
This rolled straight into dinner at Pastis, a great little spot on the Rue du Commandant Andre. I think their steak frites is the best I’ve had in Cannes. After-dinner drinks were apparently a must, so we headed over to Bar Crystal to join some friends from from Keppie Design. Stumbling back to my ridiculously overpriced apartment at 2am, I got a call from my colleague Jill Showell who’d lost her keys and was locked out. All classic MIPIM stuff. Day two awaits.
What a day! A day of contrasts – from swimming in a sea of strangers in suits, to intense exchanges about the nature of what constitutes a truly equitable relationship between the public and private sectors, and warm encounters with old friends. The scale of the whole operation is astounding. Can’t help wondering what the locals feel about the descent of thousands of suits. The economic benefit clearly outweighs the intrusion but is there a tipping point, as Barcelona has found?
The Istanbul model is astounding. Eat your heart out NLA. Moving boats and everything! My first MIPIM yacht experience was enjoyable, if a little crowded and – as photo shows – somehow i360 has succeeded in making an appearance in the background. Funny that!
Barfield mipim yacht
Our i360 model looks great in the UK government stand as part of the ’Invest in Great’ campaign. Honoured to be spearheading the initiative. Andy Ingham model makers did us proud again.
Yesterday evening turned into a battle of the engineers receptions, with three of them back-to-back and overlapping. It’s fair to say that Mott Macdonald had the greatest view and most crowded balcony. Eckersley O’Callaghan’s had a nice chilled atmosphere in a small Cave where the party gently spilled into the Rue Bivouac Napoleon as the sun set. Finally we had the Elliot Wood party on the plage; it’s become the unofficial celebration-destination for the Cycle to MIPIM riders. Many medals and MAMiLs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) in attendance. I have to say the fabric stretching over some of them seemed to be working very hard indeed.
Elliot Wood’s reception was by far the best attended. I’m sad to report that Gary Elliot was injured again this year, breaking his scapula after tweaking his knee last time. I think the road is telling him to party more and cycle less. Listen to the road, Gary!
Grimshaw’s very own Keith Brewis completed his first Cycle to Mipim and only sat out one of the 36 stages. I think that is an amazing achievement and well done to all of those who completed it. Not something I’m ever contemplating! After a lovely dinner hosted by Bespoke at Pastis, we all ended up at Bar Crystal to meet up with old college mate Ricky McDonald of Keppie Design and his team. They have a reception at Cafe Roma today and we had a few convivial drinks until the small hours as a precursor to that. MIPIM is just great for literally bumping into old colleagues, friends and clients. It’s amazing who you meet and get to speak to in only a few days.
Today I’m back in the DIT tent for a panel discussion with Joe Morris, fellow blogger Phil Coffey and Tomas Stokke to talk about what London architects can bring in terms of experience to other cities around the world. It starts at 11.30am and I hope to see some of you there. Check out the Grimshaw model of our masterplan for Los Angeles’ Union Station in the pavilion when you go. The day will end with the AR Future Projects Awards, a MIPIM highlight with the great and the good of the architectural scene in attendance. Looking forward to that, and the Manchester Bar afterwards.
I’m joining the good ship MIPIM late this year. Squeezing in one night in Cannes before trips to Shenzhen and Edinburgh. That’s enough, isn’t it? After all, one MIPIM day is equivalent to about three of your normal Earth weeks.
Looking forward to arriving fresh in the midst of the Mipimese, a crowd that by now is either exhausted or half-way through an existential crisis.
The peloton has arrived. Time for a change of costume.
I never thought a pair of Nike Airs could be so controversial.
I was at a lunch today and was introduced to this rather conservative gentleman who looked at me, for a really long time, starting with my hair down to my Croydon Urban Edge T-shirt, and continued looking until he reached my black Nike Airs, then said, ’I didn’t think trainers were optional!’
To set the record straight, I started my Nike Air adventure because I have a problem with my foot, stress caused from too much exercise - who would have thought?
But now, two days into MIPIM, I’m enjoying being liberated from the brogues, from the shackles of style over comfort. And as I walked down Rue Antibes and looked around, I noticed that French women of a certain age had also been liberated!
Vive La France!
Tuesday 14 March
My pledge not to hang out with then London crowd didn’t quite work: I am at the the official MIPIM party at the Carlton Hotel with Jeff from AOC, Paul Karakusevic, Tamsie from the LFA, Cany Ash, the RCKa boys and many more, as well as hundreds of blue suits from Kent. The recent claim by the Tesco chairman that the ‘white male’ is an endangered species seems premature - they are very much alive and kicking!
Perhaps poignantly, the country theme for this year’s party is Great Britain - all very safe and backward looking: E-type Jags and Rolls Royce cars outside, a fake phone box, miniature kidney pies and a wedding tribute band playing pretty much exclusively Beatles songs.
Tatiana von Preussen
Great party with Eckersley O’Callaghan. Much talk of Brexit, Croydon, problems with NIMBYs and working in France - pros and cons of a more regulated competitions system.
The person who guesses who these shoes belong to gets a prize (tweet to me). I am jealous as mine are wet form a freak wave at the beach…
Had a nostalgic moment with Paul Wood of Elliott Wood engineers - we built John Lancaster’s house together over 20 years ago. I can’t believe he is retiring, feeling very old.
Tatiana von Preussen
Suits and shades
Suits and shades. We’re at MIPIM.
Who knew the Italian car designer Pininfarina also had a large architectural practice?
Here’s Paul Monaghan looking relaxed before the MIPIM tennis tournament tomorrow morning where he was runner up last year. It starts at 10 if you want to head to the Cannes tennis Club to support Paul.
Discussion at London First opening night drinks with Kier and Mount Anvil: what’s the collective noun for a group of architects working together? We concluded a ‘sketch of architects’.
For me, emergence of ‘the regions’ pavilions – Midlands, Newcastle, Manchester – to counter London with HS2 the superglue long term.
Birmingham announcing a 71ha new industrial zone and 6,000 homes on greenbelt land with enviable transport connections.
It is interesting to see that some of the UK regions have their own pavilions rather than being in the main hall.
Is this a concerted effort at promotion or did we get kicked out post-referendum?
Delayed my trip out to Cannes until Tuesday to allow me time for a workshop with Will Alsop and his team thinking through how the uninspiring Great Northern Cinema block can be redeveloped. We were looking at the streets around Carnaby Street in London’s Soho for inspiration. We also got the first hints of what the local stakeholders are interested in: bold architecture incorporating greenery, with streets animated by independent retailers seems to be a theme. We look forward to playing our part in the City of Trees movement.
Flying this morning to Manchester-sur-Med to meet up with Ian Simpson, whose team is working their magic with Johnson Naylor to understand how to repurpose an incredible listed warehouse and create some of the most stunning apartments in Manchester.
Off to a great start… with a super speedy taxi from the airport with Pam Alexander, followed by lunch with Eckersley O’Callaghan and oh so civilised public boules. Free, public, convivial, outdoors and with community spirit. This is quality of life!
Hectic first morning with the registration scrum and getting into the main event. The London stand looks resplendent in the sunshine, lots of optimism about and arguably more schemes to see than last year.
My MIPIM started at 11am with a panel discussion about exporting British architecture moderated by Paul Finch in the new DIT pavilion. Some very interesting points raised by the panellists, most notably by Eric Parry about the differences in design emphasis working internationally. From a personal perspective Grimshaw’s business has been transformed commercially and culturally by working abroad. We have expanded in under 20 years from one office in London and 60 people to seven offices globally and 500 people. This has allowed us to make the leap from being a singular British firm to a global practice with offices in New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and from May, Los Angeles. This has facilitated a knowledge exchange where our offices are in constant dialogue with each other. Which in turn has improved our offer and propositions to clients.
I was interested in Paul’s summary at the panel whereby he speculated that more practices might take the plunge to work internationally following Brexit, perhaps by smaller firms teaming up. While I hope it works out for any practice who tries, my abiding thought is that the landscape we operate in, created by clients, isn’t favourable to that. Demonstrable experience is becoming a prerequisite to qualify for most bids and competitions which by their nature exclude new firms and potential new perspectives. Over to you, clients!
I was interested in the notion that larger firms like ourselves might collaborate with emerging practices in a collegiate way to get them some exposure and traction. I must find an emerging practice to speak about that with. I wonder if there are any here at MIPIM?
Just had lunch with one of the public/private council developers - such a great way to get housing built on the trickier sites. Ten sites with 10 units still give you 100 homes…
It also seems that perhaps the talent is coming back to work in the councils. Maybe a new version of the golden GLC era is emerging?
Early start this morning. The clock had a 4 at the front when the alarm went off, which is early even for us Southern trains users adept at beating strike action.
It was also early enough to remind me that at least 70-80 per cent of hangovers are lack of sleep. More on this to follow tomorrow, no doubt.
Disaster averted en route. Wallet left in departure lounge then presented to me by kind air hostess on the plane. Good to know I’m still recognisable from my 2009 driving licence, even if I don’t still have a Manc haircut.
Amused ourselves on the plane people watching. Woman front and left was very organised with printed out calendar and all her key events highlighted. She also had a briefing folder with newspaper clippings of pertinent articles to no doubt make her sound more informed in meetings later. Made me feel a little underprepared. Man front and right was getting saucy text messages from his wife, clearly designed to spur him on through a tough week.
Just freshening up in the apartment now, then off to welcome the Cycle to MIPIM crew and see what people are making of the back and forth between the Lords and Commons last night. What are the implications of not safeguarding the rights of EU residents in the UK? What will this do to the demographic of a diverse company like HTS over the next 2 to 3 years?
I noticed a woman crying into her glass of red wine in the departure lounge bar while I was looking to buy my travel miniatures this morning. That will probably be me by Thursday night.
Scones and English breakfast tea at an empty pavilion of the land alive with opportunity… but we bumped into Paul Finch, who assured us that it is all happening in the back room. Let’s hope so. He was also generally very optimistic that Brexit will not change much when it comes to exporting (or importing) architecture. Great Britain is in it for the long(ish) haul - the DIT has pre-booked the space for the next five years.
Great presence of Department for International Trade-branded UK plc. Amanda Clack, president of RICS: ’As long as the UK keeps producing goods and services which the world wants, we will thrive’.
Really interesting talk hosted by Paul Finch in the Invest in Britain tent. The panel talked about how they’ve secured work overseas and the challenges they’ve faced when they’ve been successful.
Eric Parry and John McElgunn from RSHP explained how they’ve won work primarily by competitions. Mark Middleton, managing partner at Grimshaw talked about opening their seventh office in Los Angeles and how they don’t ‘fly in, do the job and get they hell out’. Their overseas offices have meant that they get opportunities they might not in the UK market. A social housing scheme in the Bronx was cited as an example. Laura Mazzeo, managing partner at Farrells agreed with this. The practice’s office in Hong Kong has allowed them to do large iconic built projects in Asia that they wouldn’t get in London, where they are seen as masterplanners.
Tatiana von Preussen
vPPR’s pre-MIPIM aeroplane reading (Catherine wouldn’t let me include her Grazia).
I had a fun dinner last night in the old town with our American architect friends Humphreys & Partners. There was lots of chat about the impact of nationalism on architecture, along with some excellent banter, red wine and great food.
Train woes resolved and I’m on the plane. Just had my first exchange of cards across the seats. I guess MIPIM starts on the runway …
There’s nothing worse than a gatecrasher. Especially one that crashes twice.
Mr Paul Ruff, young architect of high esteem, walked me into an RIBA dinner last night. Lots of friends/colleagues, I was clearly disappointed not to be invited, but Jane Duncan noted she thought I was on the ride, which was an entirely believable excuse.
As dinner started I retreated to prevent embarrassment, off to dinner with John Jervis of Icon magazine. John was a little nervous of the next 48 hours; we discussed ‘What MIPIM is all about’ over vongole and gnocchi, and also bumped in to fellow AJ blogger John McElgunn of RSHP, and lent RCKa 50 euros to get to their AirBnB.
Time for bed. Early start. Let’s find a taxi.
Walking through the backstreets of Cannes, we passed a buzzing restaurant – honestly and without direction, we had crossed paths with the RIBA once more. So I crashed again. Given the situation it was very kind of the RIBA to hand me a goody bag… it was not very kind of me to place the peachy plastic poncho contained within over president elect Ben Derbyshire’s head. There’s a photo out there somewhere.
Never let it be said that the RIBA is not a welcoming organisation, or one lacking a sense of humour. It was definitely worth my yearly subscription.
Hopefully it will take more than ambitious plans for La Defence to entice financial institutions out of post-Brexit London. But on the Paris stand they are certainly pulling out all the stops.
Having successfully avoided MIPIM for 20 years I am finally going to see what it’s all about. Weather forecast: good. Sun sun sun. Have packed my sunglasses and my silver ‘deal making’ shoes. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yes… delayed and cancelled Gatwick Express. Love the romance of travel!
Monday 13 March
Day 5: Valence to Aix-en-Provence
Limbs are weary but spirits are high, and most completed a full day’s riding in spring sunshine.
High point - loud local support from every town and village as the peloton powered through causing traffic tailbacks. Also we have now been joined by our fellow riders from Calais as well as groups from Paris and Brussels.
Low point - if cycling etiquette is any measure, Brexit negotiations will be complex and possibly ill mannered. Our Belgian counterparts are no respecters of the rules established by our excellent ride captains - making high-speed descents unpredictable and dangerous. That said Jerry Tate (Tate Harmer) entered into the spirit which led to the photographer’s motorbike being upended - no harm done and a good story for the bar. Talking of which…
Just got here. As a first timer, right now it feels like a preparation trip for next year’s MIPIM. I imagine it a little like doing a recce for something that is actually elsewhere. Ultimately, like most at MIPIM, we are here to meet new people and organisations. We are focusing on councils and cities and I am looking forward to meeting Colm Lacey from Brick by Brick tomorrow.
Note to self: must not spend too much time with the usual London architecture crowd. Having said that, I am looking froward to Elliott Wood’s party at the Plage Royale tomorrow evening.
I think that we have just the right amount of preplanned meetings to allow for ad hoc encounters, and dare I say, even have a look at the show and attend a debate or two. For tomorrow we have ’Exporting Architecture’ in the diary. I am also intrigued to see how other European countries and cities will present themselves, and keen to find out more about the difference in procurement routes, especially for housing developments.
Here it goes. Good night.
PS I will be writing the earnest blog… promise not to mention livers or paracetamol.
I have arrived in Cannes and the sun is shining. It is great to be back! As a returning visitor it all seems so much easier this year. The highlight of my afternoon was bumping into five different colleagues and consultants around the town and having the time to chat, and partake in some light refreshment.
I have a busy week ahead, all kicked off tomorrow by two early meetings. Mid-morning I look forward to taking part in a panel discussion with Paul Finch, Export Session: Working Overseas, so I better make sure I am fresh and alert for that. This session is linked to impressive presence being felt on La Croisette by the new Department for International Trade, whose slogan ‘Invest in Great’ is highly prominent on the main Palais.
The afternoon is filled with further meetings and the London Chamber of Commerce reception until it is time to unwind at the Elliot Wood Party on ‘Plage Royale’ tomorrow night.
The joys of the travelling for work. Ironing tomorrow’s shirt in the hotel bedroom. And the trouser press doesn’t seem to be popular anymore.
We took a sedate route on our way to MIPIM this year, starting at St Pancras by train and eventually arriving at the Gare de Lyon at 2pm where we caught the TGV to Cannes. Nice to be drinking champagne while watching the French countryside slowly slide past. I’m hoping to get on La Croisette this evening in time to attend the welcome drinks that London First are hosting on the plage, good to hit the ground running!
Looking ahead, the day will start quickly for me tomorrow as in the morning I am involved in a roundtable in the DIT pavilion – here for the first time this year. We have a model of our development masterplan for Los Angeles’ Grand Union Station displayed inside. The DIT initiative is sure to be a good thing for the UK government and a big draw for UK architects and developers this year. I hope you can make it to one of the discussions I’m involved in about working internationally. They are on either 11am Tuesday or 11.30am Wednesday.
Nearly there. Have a diary packed fuller than my suitcase. Starting with the London First reception networking event at 6pm.
It’s Monday lunchtime at Gatwick for the easyJet flight and I’m sharing a coffee with Dan Gregory of Deloitte. Earlier I also bumped into David Partridge of Argent – the amazing guru of King’s Cross – who explained just how the stunning gas holders at KX have been restored. Our old friend Phil Hudson of Price & Myers is in the seat behind me – I’m looking forward to his party on Wednesday.
Slightly regretting our decision to take the train. Huge queues for taxi to take us from Gare du Nord to Gare Lyon.
Smacked in the face in Dixon Travel by a man wearing first generation VR goggles, no idea what he was playing; his wife giggles and generously apologises. Paying for my power convertor I go to tap … ‘sorry we don’t take contactless’… but ‘you’re a technology retailer!?’ The lady suggests next time I should bring a cheque book. We smile as I type in my pin.
Twenty minutes earlier it hadn’t started well. Overweight. 2kg overweight. Easyjet Gatwick, Bag drop is now conducted through machines … cold hearted machines. Impatient to get on, I gently pull up on the handle and it now registers 16.6kg … I’m in, label attached. Bag disappears. Alarm. Bag comes back. I’m joined by a lovely gentleman in orange, a modern day man from Tango, he questions how I had got the bag through? Surely he sees this every day? Apparently not.
We joked a little, laughed a little and I think we had some rapport … he whispered whilst holding his card to the machine: ‘I’m not going to charge you, enjoy your trip’… and off I went.
Okay, gaming the machine was a little naughty, but it bought me a relationship. Don’t be blinded by technology, be outdated, and feel free to be overweight; a little humour and sunshine can work wonders. Face to face meetings are what the MIPIM machine is all about … within it, you might just find another human being who wants to help you on your way.
Time to go to MIPIM. The muscular steelwork and huge spaces of Terminal 5 amplify the excitement of flying. This could be a strange week, being in France when Article 50 is triggered. Will be interesting to see how it is received.
Thought for the day: 180 property professionals tearing through France on bikes can’t help but see opportunity at every corner - the decision of Burgundy vineyard owners to plant cherry trees in equal measure is roundly welcomed as a sign of diversification.
The idea of setting up Darling Associates was conceived over 2am beers in a bar on La Croisette, and here we are again 15 years later. So occasionally MIPIM deals do come to fruition!
Sunday 12 March
Day 3: Blois to Beaune
High point - the nocturnal descent to Beaune - not your average Saturday evening. Nearly low point - Jonathan Lee of Knight Frank descending into a roadside ditch from which he emerged muddied but not deterred.
Today’s Beard on a Bike - ride captain James Morgan (Tom Hardy’s Taboo with styling by Rapha).
Day 4: Beaune to Valence
High point - our reunion with the Calais riders at our first rest stop - we now count as a significant population in this quiet part of rural France. Low point - the 4.30am alarm call followed by cold scrambled eggs.
Saturday 11 March
So what’s going to be different about MIPIM this year? Well, it looks like the weather for starters. Those who attended last year will recall that it absolutely poured down. Thankfully not this time. If the forecast is right, you’d better remember to pack some Piz Buin and those Ray Bans.
Friday 10 March
I am forming the opinion that the larger the beard, the better the cyclist - which appears to fly in the face of advice on waxing and aerodynamics.
The beard is also a useful defining feature in respect of recognition on the peloton - which leads me to today’s Beard on a Bike, Gary Elliot of Elliot Wood (more Shakespeare than Shoreditch perhaps).
The high point of today - the short climb to the Hotel de Ville at Mondobleau. And the low point - Gary Elliot’s injury on the descent.
Okay, so that is the packing sorted; next stop Cannes. I hope I have the mix right this year and have not arranged too many meetings. It can be tricky to get the balance right between formal meetings and the unpredictable.
Mipim packing 2017
It’s been a busy run up to MIPIM but finally flights are booked. Tables booked. Stand booked. Events booked. Coffey bags booked. Croissants, Coffey Cups and cocktails booked. I’m sure we are in control.
MIPIM is finally upon us… and the big question this year is: will our bigger, better and more sophisticated preparation for a week in the sun pay greater dividends than generally hanging out in Café Roma and the Manchester Bar?
In an effort to show that we are now a studio of almost 30 people working in multiple sectors and with some great clients, Coffey Architects is showing ten current London projects at our stand in the London Tent. Find six of us there, some of the time, certainly on Wednesday and Thursday between 9-10am when we are hosting Coffey and Croissants (with Nurofen). Not up early enough? A greater attraction maybe between 4-5pm when we are hosting Coffey’s Cocktails. Decaf Espresso Martinis. Yes it’s true. I’m allergic to caffeine.
While enjoying that drink on Thursday, I’ll be joining a discussion on Tall Buildings – Should London Grow Up or Out? It’ll be hosted around the London model with a cohort of interesting people. We are lucky enough to be delivering multiple units in central London, and outwards to zone 5, Holborn to Croydon… oh and a tower in Southwark… so I will be bringing a fresh view to the tall building proceedings and hoping to learn something, too.
Talking about growing outwards… London just isn’t big enough for us these days. Having worked in China, Bangladesh and on mainland Europe, in a post-Brexit world we will be looking to other markets. How do small- and medium-sized studios do that? Well, we pool resource and work with people we like… and so on Wednesday we are soft-launching Londonon with fellow collaborators. Londonon is a rolling research programme to international host cities around the world; finding out about place and seeking out new markets. I’ll be joining a roundtable on Wednesday with Raphael Channer (international trade advisor for London) among others to share our thoughts and listen to others. Londonon aims to launch the programme when Article 50 is triggered; which may be sooner than we think…
…and perhaps it can’t come soon enough. Forgetting for one moment the economic uncertainty, with over a third of our Coffey Architects colleagues coming from Europe, isn’t it about time Mrs May stopped using them as political collateral? It’s the one thing that I can’t control, the one thing that I can’t book – their place in the UK and ours in Europe.
Starting to get a bit giddy at the prospect of next week. For us, MIPIM is the perfect opportunity to raise the practice profile and mix in circles that don’t reveal themselves easily from day-to-day in London. But it is also a great chance to stretch out some conversation with existing collaborators and discuss the stuff that you can’t quite fit into the bi-weekly progress meetings and DTMs. Time to have fun and relax with like-minded individuals while constantly keeping an eye out for the next big gig, and wondering what party will replace the Urban Splash party as the hot ticket. It’s not on this year I hear (sadface). Someone mail me with some interesting alternatives please!
There’s also the technical stuff. Is it all about flat-pack micro-homes for last-time buyers, or is there another growth sector we should be all be looking to for salvation? Will there even be any growth sectors left come the end of the year after we commit EU-thanasia? None of us really know, but that won’t stop us talking about it.
Is it all about flat-pack micro-homes for last-time buyers?
But it’s tough having to be 100 per cent on-point, 100 per cent of the time. So this weekend I shall be doing some hardcore resting, powering-up my energy reserves, and taking on board plenty of fluids in preparation. As well as digging out my portable mobile phone charger (hot tip no 1).
My thoughts will also probably turn to my fellow colleague; ride captain James Morgan (pictured) currently en route to Cannes on his bicycle, travelling almost 1,500km (count them) in just six days (you do the mathematics) in aid of the well-deserving Coram charity. This guy is immense/going places/a regular hero, and one to watch.
Until next week, bonnet de douche and see you on La Croisette!
Even though my liver is quietly sobbing at the thought of it, I’m excited by the prospect of this year’s MIPIM. It’s a great chance to meet and catch up with the majority of our industry in three compact days. Some of them will be friends, some will be new acquaintances, some may be potential new clients and some will even be sober.
In terms of difference for this year I think it is great the Department for International Trade (DIT) has its own pavilion and it is using it to showcase British architects working globally. I am looking forward to being on the roundtable there on Tuesday morning, in addition to the myriad talks curated in the London stand and of course the AR Future Projects awards on Wednesday night. My only hope is that I am able to summon the strength each night to return moderately sober, to my inadequately appointed rental accommodation and not to the architects’ booze graveyard that is the Manchester Bar. For those who are about to MIPIM, we salute you.
Preparation for the MIPIM Cycle to Cannes started before Christmas, with regular circuits of Regents Park, forays into the home counties and spin classes (who’d have thought it?). The required balance of nutritional awareness, hill climbing, wardrobe management and cycle procurement is difficult to achieve – but we left London yesterday arriving on the Croisette the following Tuesday.
Cycle networking relies on a number of skills – particularly remembering who you have been speaking to, what they do and whether you’ll recognise them out of Lycra.
MIPIM 2017 itself will be an opportunity to refuel, in the company of clients, colleagues and cyclists, and to get a feel for the mood of the industry.
Illustration by Alice Mollon