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RIBA Conference 2007, Mark Hilton Blog

31 October 2007 No Comment
Mark Hilton is Principal Architect at RPS Burks Green. Here, Mark gives a day-by-day account of the RIBA event in Paris…

Thursday 25th October Nottingham, 3.30am, alarm goes off – two snoozes later, time to get up. Plane to catch at 6.40 and Steve Davis to pick up on the way. 5.30am arrive at East Midlands Airport – time for a spot of breakfast and then we’re off to Paris.
Arrived at Paris CDG at around 9.00am local time and got the train into Gare du Nord. Decided to walk to the hotel, a little further than expected due to Steve’s map reading skills but got to the Holiday Inn at around 10.00am local time. Unable to check in so early and also realising that if we took the first RIBA tour in the afternoon we wouldn’t make it back to the hotel reception for 6.00pm (to meet the Corus reps) we decided to do our own tour – on foot.After dropping the bags at the hotel we set off walking. Firstly we went to Notre Damn and then off to the Louvre. Here we decided to have a look around (I’d been before on two separate occasions but I think you could spend a year in there and still not see it all). After a couple of pictures of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo we then carried on walking, next to the Eifel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Decided to break the journey with a Panini and a couple of pints off the Champs-Elysees – then got the Metro back to the Hotel at about 5.30pm.

At 6.10pm met Ana, Dave etc down in Hotel reception. We then caught the Metro up to Cite de l’architecture. The Metro was very slow and as we were running late we decided to get off and walk – as predicted by Ana as we got off, the train started to move!!! The walk was a little further than expected – passing the tunnel and monument where Diana died. After about 30mins of walking and after finding the right door to the reception we finally made it – a little late but didn’t miss anything.

We had a few wines and canapés enjoying great views over the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris. Following the speeches and the rest of the champagne we all got the Metro back to the hotel. Found a great restaurant where we all had a meal and plenty of drink courtesy of Corus, followed by a relatively early night c.12.30am ready for an early start tomorrow

Friday 26th October

7.15am alarm goes off, a quick shower and down to breakfast at 7.50. Following breakfast we all head down to the Communist Party HQ – very impressive building, but thought the lighting a little too dim outside of the main auditorium. Sunand Prasad introduced things and followed by a VT of Oscar Niemeyer – not bad for 99 but I’m not sure I’ll be still working at his age!!! We then had a really interesting lecture by Jean Nouvelle and Spencer de Grey talking collaboration and a scheme they are working together on in London. We also had a good one by Rafael Vinoly – talking about one of his major projects and how he collaborated with the client and artists on that one. Mike Davies (the man in Red) then gave a wonderful account of his 18 years working on T5 Heathrow and that was followed after lunch by Roisin Heneghan talking about the visitors centre competition her practice won for the Pyramids at Giza. Following all the lectures Steve and I walked back to the hotel at about 3.30 where we had a couple of drinks prior to the night ahead.

We all walked down to the Pompidou for the drinks reception there at 7.00pm. This was a nice place to mingle with fellow architects – some fairly well known, and Mike Davies gave a good account of his time working on the Pompidou – this was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me – I actually felt quite privileged to listen and stand next to the guy that helped design such an iconic building – he was also responsible for the Dome (not a bad CV and career!)

Following the reception and drinks we all then went for a meal at a restaurant close to our hotel. Didn’t think it was good as the previous night where I had a gorgeous steak, however glad I had a kebab and not the trotters Steve had!!! Karl, Steve and I then rounded off a great evening with some further drinks at some local bars – finally getting to bed at around 3.30am.

  Steve enjoying some trotters…

Saturday 27th October

Alarm goes off at 7.20am – I turn it off and then go back to sleep. Next news Steve calls on the main phone to say he is in Reception ready to go – oops I’ve over slept! 5mins later I’m downstairs and we’re in a taxi to Gare du Nord on our way home. Caught train to airport, (had to jump a queue there as we were running quite late) but after buying a last minute present for my wife (perfume – how original) we were on the plane back to sunny Nottingham.

Great trip!!!

The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and not those of either Corus or RPS Burks Green

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