MIPIM 2010: Visions for City Futures from Cannes

Friday, April 2, 2010 17:43

The critical global and economic climate has pushed cities to the fore of policy discussion worldwide, forcing them to review their strategies and adopt new approaches to planning and development for sustainable growth. For cities to engage in this process successfully, increased inter-change and sensitivity between all of the parties involved in the city-making profession is required.

Marcia Caines

MIPIM 2010: outside and inside views © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co

This post focuses on news that comes from inside the real estate industry specifically the meetings, discussions and cities that featured at the 21st edition of the world’s premier real estate fair, MIPIM, held in Cannes from March 16 -19 2010. MIPIM brings together just fewer than 20,000 delegates from around the world for a three day property market and is internationally renowned for being a haunt for big business deals, men in dapper suits and champagne sipping on snazzy yachts. At least in part, this scenario has now changed. The impact of the crisis may have had a devastating affect on many businesses, but it has had a positive effect on the quality and nature of the development proposals and the level of engagement between the various actors who are collaborating to put real values back into business.

In this context MIPIM has become a stimulating platform of cross-pollination and debate for municipalities, developers, architects, stakeholders and civic professionals committed to urban issues, with representatives from over 400 cities and local authorities, as well as some 200 senior political figures.

Conferences, expert panels, keynote addresses and networking sessions dedicated to the built environment, as well as a Mayors’ Think Tank, are an integral part of the program. This year’s conference program included, among others, keynotes by Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Under-secretary-General & Executive Director of the UN Habitat, Kenya on Social Housing and Sten Nordin, mayor of Stockholm, and expert panels including My Architect(s) ‘Genuine visions to address global cities’ challenges’ with architects Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Manuelle Gautrand, Djamel Klouche, Daniel Libeskind, Hani Rashid and Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch; and ‘Spotting the Trends: Shaping the Cities of the Future’ moderated by Max Crofts, president of RICS (UK) speakers were the futurist Greg Clark; Peter Bishop of the London Development Agency; Richard Deschamps, deputy mayor of Montreal; and Nicholas Brooke of Professional Property Services Hong Kong.

The Mayors’ Think Tank
MIPIM 2010: Greg Clark © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co

Some 100 mayors and city leaders worldwide agree that cities are experiencing a moment of creative innovation but think that they can’t brave it alone.

For the second year running MIPIM organized its Mayors’ Think Tank. This year around 100 city leaders (72% of which were mayors and deputy mayors) from Europe, Asia, Latin America and north America attended the six round-table discussions in Cannes (almost double the figure of last year), moderated by futurist Professor Greg Clark, with a focus on sustainable development.

Recalling the stressed atmosphere of the previous event, where the general tone was one of anxiety, Clark was significantly more optimistic this year. He perceived city leaders to be less overwhelmed and ‘more certain of the difficulties’ in tackling pressing global problems in what he described as a moment of creative innovation for cities worldwide, despite poor resources.

All mayors agreed on the ‘centrality of cities in the culture of nations’ and that cities need to accept their responsibilities (which differ from city to city, country to country, culture to culture) by making it their goal to become the leaders – and not just the managers – of change.

Clark outlined several common themes that arose from the mayors’ discussions in Cannes:

✪ If cities are to play a leadership role they require innovation. This includes financial innovation and the forging of new working relationships between cities and the private sector. More innovation is also required to increase the scale in which things are done, for example by optimizing promising small practices to create new models of economic and social development on a macro level.

✪ The call for city authorities to invest in education for behavioural change. In order for citizens to make good choices, behavioural change needs to be attractive, so that citizens understand that by making the right choices their standard of life will improve and future generations will benefit.

✪ City services, such as housing and transport, are core to the overall quality of urban life, and reinventing these services for sustainable development outcomes will be a key issue for cities in the future. Reinventing transportation and housing policies, for example, could have positive health outcomes and minimize growth costs.

✪ Successful management and delivery of infrastructure for long-term value and a better standard of life. (Especially social infrastructure – schools, hospitals, etc. and green infrastructure – parks, disused rivers, facilities etc). Adapting and connecting existing infrastructures and systems means higher levels of sustainability.

✪ The integration of broadband technologies, ICTs and smart technologies into existing structures and the construction process adds value to city economies by enhancing inner-city and regional connections, facilitating business networks, increasing resource flows and reducing travel costs.

✪ Cities need to be more people-orientated, which in Clark’s words means ‘giving back the cities to the people’.

Successful strategies and city relevance
MIPIM 2010: conference – built environnement mayors & cities – spotting the trends : shaping the cities of the future – prof. greg clark (global advisor on the development and investment of cities and regions – greg clark – uk) © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co

The job facing cities is huge and the global perspective offered by an international event the size of MIPIM makes one thing clear: each city is different and must therefore adopt its own strategy. Copying one city’s successful strategy in another simply doesn’t work. Geographic positioning, history, language and culture, economics, size, and demographics, are just some of the factors that characterize and influence cities, and successful strategies need to take into account each specific city’s needs, cultural knowledge and existing infrastructures.

An interesting panel discussion Spotting the trends: Shaping the cities of the future, with civic professionals Peter Bishop, Richard Deschamps and Nicholas Brooke and futurist Greg Clark described the current predicament and visions of London, Montreal and Hong Kong, and revealed certain secrets that contribute to cities’ long-term success.

Peter Bishop described London’s plan to transform the Olympic Park into an ‘open city’ once the games are over. Ahead of schedule for the forthcoming event, city authorities are already assigning budget resources to link up surrounding neighbourhoods, enhance public space and invest in existing infrastructure and systems to create what Bishop described as ‘resilient and citizen-shaped communities’.

Richard Deschamps, deputy Mayor of Montreal, presented Montreal’s vision for achieving a prosperous and inclusive society within a framework of 20 – 25 years. Since 2005 Montreal has been working on a plan that places culture, sustainability and neighbourhood life at the core of future development. Major investments in the public transport system have seen a 48% increase in users, and following the success of the first phase of the city’s bike sharing system Montreal is now preparing to launch the second phase, making more bicycles available. Montreal aims to continue its aim of building a city of knowledge, creativity and innovation, with a strategy inspired by industrial clusters.

Nicholas Brooke described Hong Kong today as at a crossroads, engaged in ‘examining its future’. Only 150 years old, Hong Kong is listed as a world-class city, boasting high connectivity, with 95% of its population using public transport, and a ratio of 24% built-up area against 66% of green-land. In spite of this it faces unprecedented challenges in its planning systems. Hong Kong has been in growth mode for years but now, severely under pressure from global warming, it is being forced to review its development activities. Urban climate mapping has revealed that in densely populated areas the temperature is six degrees higher than in more sparsely populated areas. Brooke said: ‘vertical density has served us well but it must come to a halt. Today the priority is to enhance space between buildings and provide more breathing space, which means addressing the future from a climatic perspective’.

Greg Clark, visiting professor in City Leadership at Cass Business School, City of London, spoke about the secrets of city success, pointing out that even though a city’s success is neither predictable or guaranteed, today – with the proliferation of 106 city indexes – a lot more is known about the science of city success, making it possible to identify certain drivers behind success. He opened with an interesting observation; up until 30 years ago Milan featured in all of the top-ten city lists, but since then it has been underperforming, and is now rarely ranked. Following extensive research Clark has come up with a set of ingredients that determine city success and these vary according to time frame. There are many ingredients for medium-term success (30 years): connectivity, environmental performance, quality of life, labour skills, human capital, efficient strategies and good city leadership. Cities successful over the long term (100 years), all have certain characteristics in common, which according to Clark are: distinctiveness, location and openness to international population movements.

Engaging the private sector in social housing to make housing affordable
MIPIM 2010: conferences – social housing keynote address Opportunities for Social Housing Production for Rapidly Growing Cities – Dr. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher (director Un-Habitat New York Office – USA) © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co

In a keynote address, UN Habitat’s Axumite Gebre-Egziabher spoke of the opportunity for social housing in mega-cities. She stated that progressive urbanism and population increase in cities in India, China and Africa means affordable housing is pivotal to stable economic growth. Gebre-Egziabher called for a ‘completely different level of engagement’ in order to expand social housing – beyond charitable programmes – around the world, and her plea at MIPIM went out to the private sector to foster new public/private partnerships to accommodate the world’s urban populations and provide security through affordable tenure.

Culture, infrastructure, broadband and citizens: catalysts for European Cities
MIPIM 2010: Stand / Booth – Manchester © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co

Among the many exhibition stands at MIPIM, European cities presented some of the most interesting, innovative projects for future planning, with less attention to building things and more of a focus on re-designing the existing environment. Many medium-sized cities in Europe are recognizing the social and economic benefits of sustainable development.

Manchester presented an impressively high tech stand, with an interactive video wall and a digital twitter map displaying ‘tweets’ about Manchester in real time from the ‘twitter sphere’, embodying the city’s vision to develop a strong digital economy. The city’s Creative Director Peter Saville, Manchester’s much loved and celebrated graphic designer and founder of Factory Records, presented the Sharp Project a new independent co-working project situated in East Manchester and serving digital creatives in the Manchester city region. The project aims to provide talented start-ups, young entrepreneurs and established professionals with a fully equipped and stimulating work place to bring ideas to life in a collaborative and cost-effective digital environment.
(Watch the video presentation.)

Manchester has also recently been chosen by the UK to pilot a new Low Carbon Economic Area for the built environment, a five-year program that foresees the environmental retrofitting of commercial and residential buildings across the city to reduce energy consumption. The scheme involves improving insulation and installing small-scale renewable technologies and ‘smart-meters’ into homes and offices so that energy consumption can be monitored on site. The program expects to save around 6 million tonnes of carbon. The technology for the Low Carbon Economic Area will be developed in Manchester at the school of the Built Environment at Salford University.

MIPIM 2010: – left: Conference – Built Environnement Mayors & Cities – Keynote Address By A Mayor Sten Nordin (Mayor Of Stockholm) – The City Of Stockholm – Sweden © 360 MEDIAS / IMAGE & Co, right; promotional material City of Hamburg

Stockholm has been bestowed with the title of European Green city 2010, and the keynote address from the city’s Mayor Sten Nordin presented the successful, avant-garde approach that the city has implemented to reduce its carbon footprint. The program includes a massive energy and waste management scheme (Stockholm uses 770,000 tons of water per year to generate energy for district heating); an urban renewal scheme to make buildings energy efficient; Green ICT, creating an open ICT structure with an optical fibre cable network connecting households and businesses; the introduction of a congestion charge and the use of clean inner city vehicles that run on biomass fuel; and significant efforts in citizen education for lifestyle change and behaviour change.
Watch Sten Nordin’s keynote here:

Other cities engaged in making major forward-thinking transformations were Helsinki, World Design Capital 2012, which plans to assign an important role to urban design for this year-long flagship event and the future thereafter, and Hamburg, which is preparing for its year as European Green Capital 2011. This is the first time that an industrial city has been rewarded for its environmental efforts, and is the result of the work of the city’s Ministry of Urban Development and Environment, which has been working on cleaning up the city for over 20 years.

People in cities lead change
Various examples of promotional material and flyers MIPIM 2010

The content of the 21st MIPIM showed distinct signs of a paradigm shift in urban planning and place-shaping. Future sustainable development calls for the successful management and delivery of infrastructure and means connecting existing systems while taking local needs, culture and knowledge into account and putting people at the centre, because people are the critical factor in the success of any city.

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5 Responses to “
MIPIM 2010: Visions for City Futures from Cannes”

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