The picture 10 years ago was quite different from MIPIM today. Up until the downturn of 2009, MIPIM was awash with grey haired ‘propertreneurs’ and their junior counterparts converging on this rather glamorous location. This changed and was felt hard by all architecture related businesses, including our own Architecture Recruitment business. However 10 years ago, it was an opportunity for the younger members to have exposure to their company’s clients. Property professionals sharply dressed, oozing South-of-France glamour, filled the bars and restaurants. In between stood the architects, distinguishable by their universal ‘noir’ uniform and ‘sans cravate’.
One year the main sunset strip overflowed with Segways cruising along La Croisette, second only to the hummers brandishing logos of the large corporate property Gods. The yachts docked to the side of the MIPIM festival hall created postcard images for people to send back to their families, encapsulating the star qualities of what we had imagined Cannes to be.
The opening parties are always vast and opulent, whilst a handful of countries show their success and understanding of the good life through extravagant projects in gorgeous marquees. No one can quite forget that one year where the Russian Pavilion presented their architectural display models with actual models. How else to present a mountainside dwelling?
In parallel, the organic design of the Gulf Pavilion from which architects endeavored to find a narrative in a region pushed the boundaries of grand engineering, where none had formerly existed. This was the stuff of architectural dreams, where the impossible met the implausible and from our perspective Architectural Jobs became more and more out there reflecting the craziest schemes, such was the demand.
This years MIPIM was economical and understated. Many people stayed for 2 days thinking efficiently, cramming in all of their meetings into two days rather than spreading across the whole event, consciously aware of cost, time and purpose.
The reduced numbers also showed that the delegates who attended were generally senior members of their firms. The architecture and construction industry has never quite returned to those heady days, but instead evolved to a more sustainable and modest creature which is perhaps a good thing.
The former architectural love affair of large international hotels and sky kissing commercial buildings have been staggered by the likes of Airbnb, with many of the attendees booking their accommodation through this method. Whilst developers who once heavily invested in office buildings refocused their vision into co-working hubs, they respond pragmatically to a more modest consciousness.
The London Stand back in 2005 was dominated by Architects. It is now the central exhibition space for large boroughs, contractors, developers focused on PRS, build to rent developments and the new normal for young professionals who are having to rent rather than buy. Top knighted industry leaders spoke about communities, regeneration and the most important indicator of a community’s successful employment.
Over the last 10 years at MIPIM, the primary interest of developers was purely for commercial. However, in today’s market there is a greater need for a socially responsible approach. This philanthropic commercial mindset ultimately leads to a more considered and humanitarian architecture, which pays respect to the public realm.
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