MIPIM, the world's largest and most important real estate and development conference, attracts nearly 25,000 people to Cannes in the south of France every year. Like the Venice Biennale and the Saloni del Mobile in Milan, there are architects from around the world in attendance. However, there's also a small-but-growing group of influential designers from North America. Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and Berlin-based designer Jürgen Mayer H. both attend because they can meet with dozens of potential clients, both private and civic, in a single four day period. Some architects attend as members of development teams looking for investors; others come on their own to walk through the various pavilions and speak with groups seeking designers. There are pavilions sponsored by scores of moderately-sized cities (Lyon, Brussels, Palermo, etc.) and larger ones (Paris, Mexico City, Lagos etc.), all looking for investors and sometimes architects for their projects. For example, London and Istanbul's pavilions are enormous efforts sponsored by governments and development offices. Their tents feature large wooden models of their city that highlight development sites. A meeting in Cannes with the Turinese architect and engineer Carlo Ratti, Partner of CRA architects and Director of the MIT Senseabile lab, was instructive of why designers attend MIPIM. He took the opportunity to launch and promote a project he calls The Mile, a design for a one-mile high tower and observation decks that he developed with the German engineering firm schlaich Bergermann partners and British digital design studio Atmos. Ratti didn't design the one-mile high project with a residential or commercial business model in mind. Rather, it's a tourist-oriented structure like Paris’ Tour Eiffel or The London Eye. A structure twice as high as the next tallest building in the world, The Mile is conceived a structural, 20-meter-wide shaft “kept in compression and secured through a net of pre-stressed cables.” A series of orbiting capsules will allow visitors to gradually ascend to the top, enjoying the spectacular panorama at different speeds and approaches. These capsules can host meetings, dinners, concerts, or even swimming pools, thereby allowing people to inhabit the sky in unprecedented ways. These spaces will be equipped with open-air Virtual Reality screens that will create unique interactions with visitors' 360-degree view of the landscape. Aloft in the sky and unencumbered by VR headsets, you can see the city as is—or could be. From base to apex, the lightweight structure will offer a natural ecosystem covered by greenery and inhabited by hundreds of animal species. The Mile will be criss-crossed with a delicate latticework of transportation lines. As Ratti said, take New York City’s Central Park, turn it vertically, and then after “rolling it and twirling it,” you get something like this. The Italian architect was able to get this proposal in front of cities looking for iconic structures, developers looking for potential buildings to anchor a project, and journalists. There is no other gathering of parties involved in urban development like it anywhere in the world.
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The Cannes Film Festival doesn't start until May 11. But for architecture enthusiasts, there's another notable event in the gorgeous city on the French Riviera: MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier). The show, which is in its 26th year, just announced the winners of its annual awards, divided into more than ten categories, and handed out not just for a project's innovative architecture, but its development characteristics. Award categories cover all types of development, from health care to hospitality to the strangely named "Best Futura Mega Project," which we're still trying to decipher. And the winners are... BEST HEALTHCARE DEVELOPMENT Queen Elizabeth University Hospital & Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow, United Kingdom Developer: Brookfield Multiplex Architect: IBI Group Client: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde BEST HOTEL & TOURISM RESORT JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa Venice, Italy Developer: La Sessola Srl Architect: Matteo Thun & Partners Project Manager: Luca Colombo BEST INDUSTRIAL & LOGISTICS DEVELOPMENT ELI Beamlines Prague, Czech Republic Developer: Fyzikální ústav Akademie, věd ČR, v.v.i., Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic Architect: Bogle Architects BEST INNOVATIVE GREEN BUILDING Treurenberg Brussels, Belgium Developer: AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets Architect: ASSAR ARCHITECTS Owner: AXA Belgium BEST OFFICE & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT #CLOUD.PARIS Paris, France Developer: SFL (Société Foncière Lyonnaise) Architect: PCA Philippe Chiambaretta Architecte BEST REFURBISHED BUILDING Papillon Düsseldorf, Germany Developer: 741 Projektentwicklung GmbH Architect: Luczak Architekten & SW Häuser GmbH Other: Cadman GmbH, Hellmich Gruppe & CarLoft BEST RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT Katscha Norrköping, Sweden Developer: Ivarsson Byggnads AB Architect: Kai Wartiainen and Ingrid Reppen, arkitektur + development ab Public Authority: Norrköpings kommun BEST SHOPPING CENTRE Les Docks Village Marseille, France Developer: Constructa Urban Systems Architect: 5+1 AA Other: JP Morgan Asset Management BEST URBAN REGENERATION PROJECT Crossrail Place London, United Kingdom Developer: Canary Wharf Group Architect: Foster + Partners Engineer: Arup, Wiehag BEST FUTURA PROJECT Paradis Express Liège, Belgium Developer: Fedimmo Architect: association A2M – Jaspers-Eyers Architects – BAG Other: Bureau Lemaire, TPF engineering, D2S, Heinz Winters Atelier, Duchêne, Galère, Interbuild BEST FUTURA MEGA PROJECT DUO PARIS: Taking urban sensations to new heights Paris, France Developer: Invanhoé Cambridge Architect: Jean Nouvel Project Manager: Hines PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD Shanghai Tower Shanghai, China Developer: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co. Ltd Architect: Gensler Other: Shanghai Construction Group, Thornton Tomasetti, Cosentini Associates, SWA Group, I.DEA Ecological Solutions
MIPIM, the world’s largest and most important real estate and development convention, conference, and meeting attracts nearly 25,000 people to Cannes every year. But like the Venice Biennale, or Saloni di Mobile in Milan, there are virtually no Americans in attendance at this international meeting. MIPIM is primarily a development gathering, and, while the United States is the strongest economy in the world with $534 billion in total real estate transactions, $91 billion in foreign investment in commercial property, and $104 billion in residential sales purchases by foreign buyers, American developers and cities seem immune to the attraction of foreign capital. But MIPIM is also a meeting about the physical development of the city and while there are many European architects in attendance there are only a handful of U.S. architects in Cannes. A meeting with the Berlin architect Jurgen Mayer H. it is clear that three days spent at the fair an architect can meet with dozens of future and potential clients both private and civic. There are pavilions by nearly every moderate-sized city (Lyon, Brussels, Palermo) and large cities (Istanbul, Paris, Mexico City) in the world-except from North America. It may be that America is large enough to be a self-supporting internal market but our myopia leaves billions of potential development dollars on the table. We seem more interested today in building walls than bridges.
MIPIM takes place in the most complicated, counterintuitive series of convention halls on the Mediterranean waterfront. In trying to find the basement registration hall I ran into Ben Van Berkel who tried to help, but was having his own problems finding the ‘innovation forum’ that is the center of the architecture presentations. He claims he attends every other year because he can meet, in two days, 15 to 20 old and potential new clients. In the forum, we heard HOK present their Responsive Cities project that mines municipal data and then expresses it in maps that can be used by architects to drop future projects into and understand how they interact with the existing city. They showed a HOK sports stadium that might then become a useable bridge and public space during the day when it is not used for sports events. Speaking of models, MIPIM has a collection of the most fantastic scale models of cities like London and Istanbul that are enough of a reason for the design press to come to this event. This technical forum then morphed into a talk by Arik Levy, the Israeli/French designer who showed how to create value through the placements of art in projects and also bring culture to the places where working people spend their days. The forum was sponsored by Vitra, and they used their famous Swiss campus as an example of high design to super-charge daily life. We also met with Asudio, a young firm of ex-Foster employees who started up during an economic downturn and were able to get a series of schools projects that taught them to work efficiently and on-budget to produce impressive low-budget public work. They have also just started a new venture '63,000 Homes' that they hope can steer clients into creating work with innovative plans, uses, and architecture Asudio showed a new project that was meant to be a single commercial building, but they convinced the client to create two buildings that used a heat exchanger to transfer the daytime heat generated for the commercial space to heat the residential spaces when they needed the warmth during the day. There seem to be no end of the high technological solutions to everyday urban problems here at MIPIM. More tomorrow.
This week, AN joins over 20,000 real estate professionals, property developers, and architects in the south of France at MIPIM, or Lemarche international des professionnels de l’immobilier. The 2016 iteration of the nearly 30-year-old international trade show carries the theme, “housing the world.” We will be reporting on development strategies, opportunities for architects, and market trends and projects. There are nearly 200 U.S. companies here in Cannes, and we will meet with many of them to understand how and why they have come to MIPIM, beyond the obvious charms of the cote d’azur.