NLQ goes to MIPIM: David Taylor’s letter from Cannes – day 2

Thursday 8 March 2012

Ah, sunshine. There’s nothing quite like a bit of seasonal weather to bring out the optimists, add some warmth to people’s outlook in general and to this property market in particular.

‘Just walking around the stands, you can see that London is so buoyant’, said one eminent architect, sipping tea on the sun terrace. Even if, as he went on to add, the capital’s 8,000 architects might still not all have quite enough work to go round. But who can blame this upbeat principle being in force at the London stand, where speakers continued to stake the city’s claim for the catalytic force of the Olympics into day two. For Matt Beasley, an Australian working for the International Quarter at Stratford, it almost pained him to say it, but London ‘is so far advanced from where Australia was, and they delivered the best Games ever’. Streuth! Newham’s chief executive member for regeneration in Newham Dr Conor concurred, saying that the ‘momentum’ is with East London. OPLC chief executive Andrew Altman, pressed about why the architects and other consultants connected to the Olympics had not been allowed to market their on-time and to-budget work, said it was ‘madness’. But at least the legacy of the stadium will be shortly addressed, with bids back for potential users by the end of this month.

It is not only the east of London which has been upbeat, however. Argent’s three-headed team of David Partridge, Robert Evans and Roger Madelin weren’t ready to talk about whether or not Google’s search had ended on their site, but there was plenty else to celebrate, not least the creation of the first roads network in London since Kingsway. ‘We’re the antidote to Candy and Candy’, joked Madelin. Croydon, too, had another time in the sun, with that man Jon Rouse on hand to talk through its new, it-will-happen-this-time appeal underpinned by mayoral money, and Abstract Securities’ Mark Glatman declaring that Croydon ‘provide an amazing answer to central London expenses’. Glatman said he was so convinced that he will be back to build more buildings beyond his 100,000 sq ft Renaissance - the first speculative office building in Croydon for over two decades.

In the run-up to the publication of the NPPF, there was a session on what it means for London, some believing that it was more a question of political engagement and need for more resources. And back with another developing area of London, Capco’s upbeat vision for Earls Court got a well-received airing.

Outside the London stand, the Qataris’ characteristically luxurious double-deck stand was still pulling in the punters, attracted by a speaker list which included Richard Rogers and RIBA president Angela Brady, while another stand of note was that of Skolkovo in Russia, home to some futuristic schemes designed by OMA, Herzog and de Meuron, SANAA and David Chipperfield. Manchester offered a minimalist affair, with a centrepiece model filled with Bob the Builder models, for some reason, as if the city was in desperate need of more fixing. Finally, there was time to meet up with Gene Kohn on the KPF stand and learn more about the practice’s Hudson Yards scheme, as well as the Culture Shed element designed by Diller and Scofidio – a huge, five-storey space for the arts, with an extraordinary, extendable element on tracks which can be rolled out as and when it is required.

Judging by some of the red faces and pates mingling around the Palais des Festivals and assorted sun decks by the end of MIPIM’s day two, some sort of similar overhead covering might have come in handy for this year’s MIPIM sunburned optimists. Roll on the finale.

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly

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