Our take on MIPIM, 2017 …

After a civilised start time on our journey to Cannes, Gavin and I managed to successfully navigate our way to the Escape Lounge within Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 building. Kicking off proceedings with a classic bacon butty and coffee combo!

This is where MIPIM really began for me, at the Lounge coffee bar having a welcome encounter with Salford City Council’s City Director, Jim Taylor. We had an insightful discussion about Salford’s development renaissance and Muse Developments’ positive contribution to this, before heading to the gates.

During the flight I read Property Week’s Perspectives on Property, their MIPIM special, which got me in the mood for a week of informal discussion and debate. The primary topic covered was ‘connectivity,’ and not just connectivity through transport, but digitally too. As workplace strategists and commercial interior designers we are constantly evolving and learning from our clients about the demands for connectivity.

A truly agile workplace scheme needs to be supported by a solid IT and FM solution. This is a two-way street involving both the building landlord and the IT teams of the businesses that occupy those buildings.

The two go hand in hand.

Lynda Shillaw, CEO at MAG developments, also wrote an interesting piece on the increase of workplace fluidity and choices of when and where to work.

For SpaceInvader, the changing workplace is nothing new and is something we have implemented for many of our clients … AstraZeneca, Zenith and SkyBet for example. The importance of creating work settings that look, feel and function according to each business’ brand and culture is intrinsic to the success of that workplace.

In our experience, applying a sprinkling of our leisure and hospitality approach to commercial spaces further enhances their function.

Ultimately what is important is the complete connectivity of these work spaces: connectivity with colleagues, internal systems and external clients.

Chris Oglesby, Bruntwood, and Thomas Renn, MSP Bruntwood, gave a presentation at the Manchester pavilion that further built on this topic by demonstrating how their current developments such as Circle Square, Bright Building and City Labs 2 & 3, will be adopting hi-tech elements including digital ceilings connected to a building management system that will record, monitor and report on aspects such as noise levels, temperature and usage. They are even looking, potentially, to share this with other developers for the good of the city. Respect.

Renn also spoke about connecting Manchester as a whole, creating a smart city promoting health and well-being amongst other qualities.

For more of a macro view, the Leeds hosted ‘Cities, regions, corridors and clusters’ discussion covered the idea of coming together and connecting to form clusters that demonstrate social and economic advantages (which would also appeal to outside investors such as those in China and other countries in the Far East).

The Northern Power House, which is gaining serious momentum, is the obvious example of this approach. It is also heavily reliant on the network of transport links between clusters; the facilitation of this will ultimately enable people to live, for example, in Yorkshire but work across the North West.

As we are soon to be opening a new office in Leeds, I have a vested interest in the city and so attended a number of Leeds presentations. From these it was clear that the Leeds City Region concept is a great example of how clustering can benefit the growth of an entire geographical area. The city has ambitious plans with landmark regeneration developments such as South Bank and within it, the Climate Innovation District which will offer 312 zero-carbon apartments and houses. The regeneration will help to double the size of the city.

We were told that Leeds City Region is the fastest growing UK city economy outside London. This kind of statistic demonstrates how important it is that our cities work together to generate investment opportunities, which will benefit the people that live and work within our regions.

Particularly impressive this year at MIPIM was the high standard of the presentations in the Manchester pavilion, each communicating the quality of the development discussed. Mayfield was perhaps my favourite with the unforgettable words: “Manchester: where brains meets balls”.

Talks on St Michael’s, Circle Square, MSP, St John’s and Bauer Millett sites were all delivered with passion and integrity by people who care deeply about the success of each development. They were a masterclass on how developers, councils and residents can work together to bring something genuinely meaningful to Manchester.

It was an amazing week and I have learned a great deal, possibly the most important of which is that technology, if it isn’t already will be a part of every single thing we do. Connectivity is key! My primary take away from this is that as interior designers and creators of beautiful spaces, we must continue to use and integrate technology into our schemes and design to further enhance people’s lives.

As MIPIM drew to a close, we said our goodbyes to Manchester’s outgoing Chief Executive Officer Sir Howard Bernstein at an event which comprised an introduction by Bruntwood’s Chris Oglesby, a discussion with Sir Howard and finally an open Q&A hosted by Gary Neville. It was a privilege to be given a true insight into the career of Sir Howard which encompassed everything from Manchester pre-bomb, to the Commonwealth Games, to today. The level of respect and pride for this man cannot be underestimated and rightly so. He is both a visionary and strategic thinker and it was a pleasure to spend time in his company.

John Williams, Director

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