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MIPIM: Warts and all

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Our anonymous MIPIM insider unpicks the infamous property fair in Cannes and sets out why architects are not getting the best out of it

I am an architect and I go to MIPIM. Our industry’s performance at the event is lacking. I’ve seen it first hand and it is a real shame.

MIPIM polarises our profession. It brings the best and the worst out of us. Here are my warts-and-all observations and a few tips for anyone thinking of chancing their arm next year.   

  • Don’t be fooled, this is a commercial event not an architect love-in
  • Be aware: small and medium practices are minnows in a very large pond 
  • Architects are ten-a-penny at MIPIM and very low on the food chain
  • RIBA stand has such a low presence. I have yet to hear positive feedback
  • The Architecture Café was a running joke - empty when I visited, but full of RIBA brochures 
  • Most developer’s priority is finding investment, not architects 
  • Don’t believe the hype other architects tell you. Larger practices have been particularly cocky this year 
  • Don’t expect to win grand projects but do expect to sharpen your teeth trying
  • Only buy a minimum number of tickets for the main bunker as they are over-priced, over-rated and distract you from the real business majority of which is outside the event 
  • However do not organise outside events without a ticket as the MIPIM police will call and stop you
  • Do expect to be stalked by other consultants
  • To create that great opportunity think like a developer, agent, lawyer, not like an architect
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Readers' comments (1)


    True...however, with a bit of an open mind, a relaxed attitude, and a flexible approach, MIPIM can yield results. The task is NOT to approach MIPIM as a work generator. Think of it more as a NETWORK builder. If work comes from this immediately...its a bonus. I've attended seven years in succession, six as a rider of the Coram Ride to MIPIM event (cycle-to.org), which I must stress is head and shoulders above the actual event in Cannes, in both experience and networking terms. Whilst it is difficult to quantify exactly what has come from attending MIPIM each year, and whether or not the connections made would have been made otherwise, the fact remains that my practice has, as a result of those people I have met on ride and in tent, secured many £10-100M's of work across several sectors, with some of the industry's most revered clients. Add to this the strong bond of ambition/ethic/culture which grows between you and other participating consultants, especially architects...too numerous to mention. Over the years this growing family of like minded, ambitious and talented architects has grown, facilitating many collaborative working relationships across many schemes, ordinarily too large to tackle on one's own. In addition, and not to be scoffed at, are those chance encounters, lunches, dinners and so forth which would never happen in London. The reason...because everybody is doing the same...because that is what people attend MIPIM for...and thus they are accessible. On Thursday before leaving this year, I was biding time on La Croissette, reading up on matters, taking in the sun...when Patricia Brown (currently overseeing the LFA) coincidentally passed...we chatted for a short period...and I ended up several hours later attending a dinner she had organised to discuss the content of this year's LFA. Scintillating discussion, with Rab Bennetts (MIPIM first timer), David Taylor (NLA Quarterly), Sadie Morgan (DrMM), Patricia (of course), Phil Coffey (as ever), Tamsyn Curley (Place) and others...you cannot put a price tag on this...

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