Open-access content 18th March 2009
26 March 2009
by Gill Parker
When you consider that Mipim is about attracting investment to fund property projects in all sectors, it is no wonder that attendees were down by a third compared to last year.
Yet an estimated 20,000 delegates attended this year's event from key sectors in the property market - investors, developers, end-users, architects, hotels groups, public authorities and property associations. That's not to mention all the unregistered people who head down there to meet with the official delegates.
It was apparent before leaving London that this would be a very different Mipim as it has clearly been hit by the full force of the global recession.
Commercial property values have fallen by 38 per cent in the UK since their peak in summer 2007, according to index provider IPD. Against this backdrop predictably many businesses took the decision to send fewer but more senior representatives this year. It was also clear that the marketing budgets had been slashed across the board.
However, this is not a tale of doom gloom. Yes, the mood was more somber than in previous years but in my view this was no bad thing. The senior players still went and it was refreshing to have some of the extravagant marketing bonanzas removed to make way for the much needed austerity of real business.
The uniqueness of this global recession is a reminder to us all that we are in a time of immense change, to which no-one can really predict the eventual outcome. As a consequence, the bravado of previous years was replaced with open and honest discussion about how the sectors can adapt and explore new innovative ways of working together.
For example, a consortium made up of Watkins Gray International, Gardiner & Theobald, Regeneration Investments and hurleypalmerflatt have come together to develop a concept around turning waste energy into heat and light. Ken Dytor, managing director of Regeneration Investments, explained: "The current climate of low interest rates, cheap land and government commitment to joint venture partnerships has created the optimum condition for a new approach to delivering sustainable communities."
Although lack of money and investors dominated many conversations, the main themes were urban and regional development, architecture, sustainability and hotel and tourism. The good news is that sustainability hasn't dropped off the agenda as times have got harder. BRE was exhibiting at Mipim for the first time this year, indicating that the benefits of their environmental assessment method Breeam are even more apparent. Developers are increasingly using the Breeam measurement as a differentiator for their products in a very competitive leasing market.
The issue of existing stock was also raised at The Green Agenda: Maintaining Property Moment, a talk chaired by Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Foundation. The panel which spanned four continents, agreed that it is unlikely that non-green building will ever be built again. However new builds only account for between 2 and 5 per cent of total building stock, so we need to concentrate on 'retrofitting' - enhancing the environmental performance of existing stock.
It is usual for mayors of major cities to attend Mipim and this year Boris Johnson made an entertaining keynote speech at the London Pavilion. Whatever you think about his politics he is a great ambassador for London and attracted a large audience. He was keen to emphasise that London was determined that the 2012 Olympic Games would provide a viable economic legacy. The Olympic site would provide 117, 000 square meters of commercial floorspace. Johnson also used the platform to talk about the London Now initiative, which is a plan to attract foreign investment by offering free office space.
The Olympics coupled with the weak sterling may assist the UK property market in its recovery. Research from real-estate advisor Atisreal indicates that some confidence is returning to the investment market in the UK. Nearly 80 per cent of UK real estate investors surveyed said they were intending to make acquisitions during 2009.
Other positive news for the UK came from Henry Williams, director at developers Stanhope which is responsible for the Chiswick Park complex. "It is a challenging market but there is a pulse," he said. "Some people are looking to take property as a result of a lease expiry, some because of mergers and some simply because there are opportunities to take something as a better price."
A report by property consultant CBRE also highlighted the increase in opportunities for occupiers, highlighting that landlords have been facing increased pressure from tenants to offer more flexible lease terms. Some business may be presented with the chance to upgrade office space and occupy premises that may have previously been too expensive.
It is true that in times of crisis we revert to type and this was evident at Mipim. A renewed appreciation for our peers' skill sets and a stoic attitude of "we are all in this together" will strengthen the property sector as we respond to a changing marketplace with appropriate and sustainable solutions. And while no-one can be really sure that we have hit the bottom of the market yet - or indeed when we will - the general consensus was that this has been the most useful Mipim for years .
The Mipim Awards Winners 2009
In the category BUSINESS CENTRES:
Architect: Bothe Richter Teherani Architects BDA, Hamburg / Linster Architects, Trier-Aachen-Luxemburg
Developer: Development Partner AG
In the category REFURBISHED OFFICE BUILDINGS:
Les Ecuries de la Chasse Royale
Architect: ASSAR Architects
Developer: Royal Hunt Properties sa/nv
In the category RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS:
Architect: BIG- Bjarke Ingels Group
Developer: Hopfner A/S / Danish Oil Company A/S
In the category HOTELS AND TOURISM RESORTS:
Phoenix Island Villa Condo & Club House
Seogwipo-si, Republic of South Korea
Architect: Samoo Architects and Engineers
Club House Design Architect: Mario Botta Architetto
Developer: Bokwang Jeju Co., Ltd.
In the category GREEN BUILDINGS:
Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies, CSET
Ningbo, People's Republic of China
Architect: Mario Cucinella Architects
Construction Management: Wanli Education Group, Zhejiang Province
Developer: Nottingham University UK and Nottingham University Ningbo
The SPECIAL AWARD OF THE JURY was attributed to:
London, United Kingdom
Architect: Allies and Morrison Architects
Developer: Vision Four Developments
Planning Consultants and Property Agents: Savills (L&P) Ltd
For the first time this year, the jury attributed a Special Recognition to:
Earthquake Proof Sustainable Housing
Bagh and Jareed, Pakistan
submitted by Article 25
The Jury was headed by Peter Goodacre, President RICS (UK) and further members of the jury were all former presidents of the MIPIM Awards Jury:
Bärbel Schomberg (CEO DEGI, Germany)
Peter Cole (Chairman, UK Business Hammerson plc, UK)
Michael Griffiths (Owner MRG Consultants Ltd, UK)
Martin P. Hayter (President Hayter International S.A., France)
Jan Kasl (President European CZ, Czech Republic)
Kaspar Kraemer (Owner Kaspar Kraemer Architekten BDA, Germany)
Werner Welter (Property Consultant Werner Welter, Germany)
Gill Parker is joint managing director of BDGworkfutures