Tag Archives: Europe

Intellectual Property

One of the most telling moments at Mipim this week was the Innovation seminar. Now seminars at Mipim are never that well attended – theres deals to be done, wine to drink – but even so less than 100 people in a big room reminded me of the industries weaknesses – introversion, conservatism, complacency.

The speaker, Robert Newhart II, an American innovation evangelist, preached a pretty mainstream spin on innovation (and creativity) compared to some of the more edgy stuff we hear in the UK, whether from Nesta or the social marketing sector. Drawing on his “Free Radicals of Innovation”  film, there were examples – the usual suspects – Apple, Sony, Nike – and the theme was the usual “innovate or die”, more innovation when times are tough, etc, with quotes from Darwin, Edison, Einstein as well as video clips with Guy Kawasaki (yep, him again). Not bad as an advert for the Innovation Center.org, but not sure the real estate guys got anything from it.

So what else did I see?  – lots of glass towers optimistically proposed for small towns in eastern Europe, big Russian stands, but fewer Russians, Boris Johnson positive and idiosyncratic as usual, UK public sector led regen strong, a lot less money men and yes just a few people saying there are good schemes coming forward. But as Newhart says too many think its “keep your head down and in two years time you can carry on as before” – no, the old model is not only broke, but gone.

As for the anticipated Twitter #Mipim buzz it didn’t really happen – a few from individuals, the magazines – especially BD &  Estates Gazette, but maybe everyone was too “busy” to report their progress minute by minute. Most were saying “its less busy, but the key players are still here” – perhaps justification for the bosses back home?

Now back to the real world for me too…

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Nieuw architecten

Not sure about you, but I am less and less interested in the showy new, nouveu riche, architecture of Dubai and China. With the northern European architects I constantly find much more to enjoy, where sensitivity to place and context is job 1, but not reduced to neo classical kitsch or Quinlan Terry faux Nash terraces (see Richmond Riverside) – one good example is the work of NL Architects.

By 2014 Groningen will have a striking new building on one side of the Grote Markt that I will want to visit, with NL winning the design competition. The Groninger Forum will be (dread phrase) a “cultural centre”, but perhaps like the Pompidou Centre will go from alien to much loved in as little as 20 years…

On the NL website the flythroughs and walkthroughs are particularly good, giving a sense of how the building will work.

Brussels by bike

No, we used Eurostar to get there but a Saturday morning tour of the city’s cycle routes convinced me we still have a long way to go in the UK to match best pracice. We cycled through parks, the ring road and side streets, then on contra flow “on street” and “on pavement” routes (from the European Parliament to the centre) and everywhere drivers gave way to clearly inexperienced English cyclists.

We got our bikes from Provelo and were led by a really knowledgeable local guide. At one stage we crossed the equivalent of Marble Arch, the Arc de Triomphe and any junction in Rome combined, cutting acoss buses, cars, mopeds and trams with no more stress than cycling along the Ridgeway (actually probably not a good example).

BTW Eurostar from the new St. Pancras (ask me sometime about PBA’s role in making it work) was supremely efficient, departing and arriving on time there and back. The Circle Line and First Great Western on the way home as always failed to deliver on any element of customer satisfaction. Oh well…