Prestigious “Community Recognition” Award for our Youth Centre project.

This weeks blog features an L&H project which has just received a high-profile international award…

Lewis and Hickey recently attended the annual Civic Trust Awards ceremony in Edinburgh. We were delighted to accept a ‘Community Recognition Award‘ for our Westfield Folkhouse Project in Nottinghamshire. The project was also shortlisted for ‘The Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design‘.

From 306 international entries, 52 unique and inspiring projects were recognised at the Dinner. Awards were presented by Patron, Architect and TV presenter George Clarke and Civic Trust Awards Managing Director Malcolm Hankey.

About The Civic Trust Awards; Originally established in 1959, the CT Awards aim to recognise the very best in architecture, design, planning, landscape and public art. Awards are given to projects of the highest quality design. As one of the longest standing built environment awards schemes in Europe, they have given over 6,500 awards during the last 52 years.

Community Recognition Awards are given to projects that provide a positive social, cultural, environmental or economic benefit to the local community.

About the project: The original  c.1830’s built Grade II listed building has been lovingly restored and a contemporary new-build extension integrated, to deliver a new youth centre facility designed to meet the needs and aspirations of young people and promote their personal development. The building has been actively used as a Youth Centre since just after the second world war, but was in need of investment and adaption to reflect modern needs, not least of which improved accessibility for all. Nottinghamshire County Council, Mansfield District Council, myplace funders and the voluntary sector partners were fully engaged and involved through a series of consultations, including workshops, presentations and interviews. A young people’s management committee was specifically established to liaise and consult with user groups from the youth community regarding all aspects of the building including design features, activities and resources to ensure the centre focussed on social inclusivity.

Adrian Hollis, director of architecture, from our Nottingham office led the project from inception to completion. He said “This was a challenging project of two halves. It included the delicate and sensitive restoration of a listed building, juxtaposed by a contemporary and complementary new-build extension. Delivering a unique, complex project like this takes a huge amount of time and dedication to get right – we are very happy with the completed development and its an honour for us to be receiving recognition for it.”

  • For more information on on the ‘myplace’ use of the building and the story through its realisation, click here.
  • To see BBC news coverage, including a video, of the opening last year, click here.
  • To download a pdf copy of the Civic Trust Awards Brochure for 2012, click here.

‘Cautious optimism’ is the message from Mipim

image above. The Palais des Festivals – also known as the “Bunker” (as it has very few windows!)

Its been an intense week at Mipim, but as I start to reflect on what we can take home from it (apart from blisters on my feet and the need to sleep!) I can already conclude that its been very informative and worthwhile.

As with many companies I’m sure, we deliberated for some time about whether to attend Mipim this year. We took the view that as a major National firm of Architects with International offices as well, we should be there. Having not been to Mipim before personally, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I did however go out there with a clear determination to generate as much value as possible from it – and I wasn’t alone in this endeavour. There was a strong presence from Architects there, as well as all other disciplines in Property, but Mipim is all about the Agents – Savills, DTZ, Colliers, CBRE, BNP Paribas, Drivers Jonas Deloitte, Jones Lang Lasalle etc.

The purpose of Mipim is to connect international investors with the property market. The Agents play the largest part in facilitating these connections. There really is no other event on this scale which brings together all disciplines within Property and covers a huge diversity of sectors, countries, cities and companies. An extensive conference programme has assessed current issues/ trends/ predictions for growth. The reason its held on the Cote d’Azur is because its accessible and, critically, attractive and familiar to the Investors. There is a unique informal vibe, although serious business is done. The sheer volume of people you can connect with and information you can gather would take months to do any other time and cost significantly more.

The main reasons we attended this year were to;

  • Raise our profile and be ‘seen’ there – to improve our exposure.
  • Collect market information which will directly inform our current business strategies.
  • Make new connections which we can follow-up on back in the UK.
  • Understand our ‘local’ UK markets more fully (see below).
  • Assess the International opportunities for our global offices.

image above. Caffe Roma – The social hub and meeting place of Mipim.

The power of Social Media played an important part of Mipim this year as Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Blogs were all buzzing with reports of activity here to connect it all back to the UK instantly. Property Week’s coverage of Mipim can be seen here. This includes news stories, blogs, video links and agency research reports published this week.

Here’s a brief round-up of the Cities we are close to in terms of our UK Offices, click on the links;

The City had a good stand presence at the conference and were voted ‘Best Large European City’ for foreign direct investment (fDi) by Financial Times fDi Magazine. They also launched their new “Edinburgh Investment Development prospectus” at Mipim…with a Whiskey tasting session of course! Their focus for inward investment is on four key zones – Edinburgh city centre, Edinburgh’s Waterfront, the expanding West Edinburgh airport quarter and the BioQuarter in South Edinburgh.

The London Pavillion was a hive of activity and included an impressive blend of Developers, Agents, Architects/ RIBA and Local Authorities. The events programme was run by the NLA and also the Estates Gazzette. Clearly the London market is huge and varied so its difficult to focus any specifics here, but the Links will provide a reference. The overall view of London remains strong. Inward international investment is continuing to drive various sectors, meaning London performs like no other UK city.

Image above. The London Pavillion

The Manchester team put on a seriously impressive display – without a doubt the best UK City representation there, outside of London. Clearly they invested a lot of money in this with their own Stand/ Lounge/ Terrace, a separate Bar (an actual pub – branded “Manchester”) and an Apartment for private meetings/ dinners. They had a large and diverse private sector team which seemed to work very well. The talks on ‘Fostering Innovation’ by Bruntwood/ Allied London and ‘The Business of Creative’ by Ask Developments/ Ian Simpson were particularly good – two subjects Manchester have a strong ability to lead the way in. All the stand events can be seen in video here. Manchester continue to look forward with experience, dynamism and creativity and have a lot of good things happening.

“Team Nottingham” had a busy time attending and hosting various events – including a well attended Drinks Reception. Both Tim Garratt and Richard Baker posted regular blog updates. Nottingham’s visibility was perhaps low-key compared to other cities, but they seemed to have an effective and focussed campaign and made news headlines several times, including; UK Regeneration revealed today the plans for Sandfield Village and Nottingham Enterprise Zone gets bigger.

So, that’s a very brief round-up of just some of my activity and perspective of Mipim 2012. Overall there seemed to be a fairly consistent view over the week that ‘cautious optimism’ sums up the mood in Property at the moment. Investors are increasingly acquisitive and keen to make progress in obtaining Planning Permissions. However the Banks and the European financial markets remain the problem when it comes to securing funding!All in all I return to the UK feeling better informed and better connected – I now need to ensure we pursue and convert some of the key opportunities I’ve discussed here too…

MIPIM. Day one…meeting Lord Rogers.

As I’m sure you’ll know already (!) L&H are flying both our UK and International flags in Cannes this week at the annual MIPIM property conferenceand what an event this is! I had no appreciation for the sheer scale of this – it’s huge. Today was about understanding the event to maximise value over the coming days, whilst also attending a couple of very informative conference sessions (more on those later).

BMI Baby put on an excellent flight (incl complementary breakfast reception) from East Midlands to Nice and the flight, although far from full, was dominated by Mipim attendees and “Team Nottingham” (part of Invest in Nottingham). Therefore the ‘networking’ kicked off at 7am and I’ve just got back to my hotel (I figured that 15 hours non-stop wasn’t a bad effort for the ‘warm-up’ day!) – Although I know the next 2 days are going to be intense.

We arrived at lunchtime and as I entered the main area I heard a furore of activity and noise – it was the celebrations for the arrival of the “Cycle to Cannes” participants – that looked hard work! At the front, leading the applause was Lord Richard Rogers – a career-long idol of mine and a truly inspirational contemporary Architect. I’ve studied many of his buildings and his 1999 Government endorsed publication ‘Towards and Urban Renaissance‘ was a core element of my University Dissertation. Great to finally meet him…

Amongst the extensive networking today, I attended two informative conference sessions;

At the Manchester Stand, Sir Howard Bernstein of Manchester City Council introduced Chris Ogsleby (Chief Exec of Bruntwood) and Mike Ingall (Chief Exec of Allied London) to talk about ‘Fostering Innovation’. Tom Bloxham MBE of Urban Splash was also there at the back – in his Trilby Hat. The talk was about Manchester’s Airport City Enterprise Zone and Allied London presented a new concept for an Office model. This is essentially a carefully serviced/ designed, technology focussed, Empty Box/ Shell – no fit out, at all. The intention being for end-users/ tenants to then build their own internal space which would meet their specific needs. This idea is borne out of the need to provide for companies who have increasingly diverse needs/ requirements for ‘space’ now and enabling an individual Brand to be integrated more fully. An interesting idea – although when put into the context of the next session I attended on Sustainability, it may become increasingly difficult to realise in time perhaps?

The second session was titled “Are we too broke for Sustainability” and featured Chris Grigg (CEO British Land). The focus was really on how the private investment market feels about sustainability today, especially in terms of investor understanding/ support and the effect on rental returns generated against ever increasing capital costs. The talk was mainly on Office and Retail sectors – where end users are diverse and demand different things in the ‘space’ they choose occupy (as above). Other than acknowledging that Legislative Governance is now forcing the agenda (and rightly so!), there seemed to be a view that Sustainability is on a “growing trend – which is most likely to continue to increase”. Therefore it has to be integrated more fully into future projects. Although there still seems to be a sense of reticence towards sustainability in these developer sectors specifically.

With the increased detail and definition of BREEAM 2011 requirements, I think there is a valid question of; how can ‘mixed-use’ developments be designed to meet a standard when end-users/ occupiers are not known during the design stage and can vary hugely in terms of services usage? Developers want to be as flexible as possible in terms of the offer to ensure their investment provides maximum diversity? They also want to avoid any risk of over-specifying buildings. A standard office space occupier is very different now to that of a high-end technology/ research company. How can this issue be reconciled? There doesn’t appear to be a simple answer…

The value of social media in business?

The Independent newspaper has today published their UK ‘Twitter 100‘ which ranks the top media and sports celebrities, business and political leaders on the social media platform. These are all high-profile individuals who like to talk and, more importantly, people like to listen to. Twitter is only six years old and has 100 million active users worldwide, seven million of them are in the UK. These figures reflect the enormity and popularity of social media generally.

Social media is now a wholly accepted part of day-to-day life and, in an increasingly busy and hectic world, it enables us to connect with friends and contacts (globally) quickly and easily to keep people in touch with what we’re doing and to spread news. It’s actually become part of how we interact as humans – albeit a lot of this ‘interaction’ is actually, in the first instance at least, indirect!? But this goes beyond ‘social’ or personal use – it’s now extends into business in a big and important way.

The most popular business social media platform is Linkedin “The Worlds largest professional network with 150 million+ members”. I use this everyday, either at my desk or on the move via my mobile/ iPad. I can gain a valuable insight as to who knows who, what people/ companies are doing and what topics and discussions are ‘trending’ in the various sectors we work in. This is realtime information on a constant feed. I also use it to understand target contacts/ companies more fully – you can learn a lot of useful information very quickly.

According to Sir Francis Brown “Knowledge is power“. He is also quoted to have said “By far the best proof is experience“. Both are relevant here.

You will probably know by now that I endorse social media, especially in business. My views on the ‘value’ of social media are continually growing in support, although it can sometimes be difficult to ‘measure’ this value in real terms. Its simple; the more you use it, the more value you will generate from it. For me Social Media is an important and necessary channel to engage with people and promote your individual/ business profile within your sector(s). I can categorically state that introductions to new clients and opportunities have been generated directly from social media – that is powerful.

Its addictive, its important and it does add value to business, especially in raising your profile and with developing new business relationships/ generating work.

Having said all that, the real work is in realising physical connections and then doing business. On that note; I’m off to mipim next Tuesday-Friday to do some global networking face-to-face…watch this space for more on that…

Click here to see my Linkedin profile.