8 Apr 2013

60 seconds with...Helen Hare (GPE) and Bill Price (WSP) talking tours at the BCO Annual Conference 2013


From Wednesday 15 to Friday 17, we will be hosting the BCO Annual Conference in Madrid. The topic for this year is "A Brave New World" with the aim to explore how recent financial challenges are being dealt with by local developers, designers, banks and office occupiers.

Alongside our programme of plenaries and seminars, focussing on key topics relevant to the industry today, we have a varied programme of tours featuring stunning contemporary and classical architecture.

To find out a bit more of what's on offer in Madrid 2013, we spend 60 seconds the people behind our tour programme - Helen Hare,  Project Manager at Great Portland Estates, and Bill Price, Director at WSPUK.

How long have you been working on the tour programme for the BCO Annual Conference 2013? 
Work started in the Spring of 2012 with an arduous initial couple of days spent in the sophisticated city of Madrid. This was followed by three further visits in the autumn of 2012. 

Did you have any opinions on property development in Spain before you first visited? 
I was aware of their recent problems in the property sector, but unprepared for the strong sustainability and cost in use provisions. 

Were you surprised by what’s on offer? 
Yes, the quality and scale of many of the office projects is stunning. These are a major offer for BCO delegates.

What would you say the Madrid market does best? 
The global campus style HQ with excellent facilities and strong ideas about connectivity. Both Santander's HQ , in Boadilla del Monte, is a good example for people to take a look around.

How would you sum up the tour offering at this year’s conference? 
Excellent variety of brand new, established and classic buildings. Delegates are going to enjoy and learn from the visits. 

Do you have any personal highlight? 
(Bill Price) Repsol HQ is a symphony in putting the structure outside the building envelope to create adaptable interiors. BBVA new HQ is likely to be a hidden gem, truly a different kind of HQ building. 

(Helen Hare) From the moment you arrive you enter the amazing Barajas airport and Telefonica has a great public realm offer. 

What do you think delegates will get out of visiting projects in the Spanish capital? 
Delegates will see interesting examples of addressing a continental climate. Cold winters and hot summers are a glimpse into what the UK might be heading towards. Shading, screening, glazing, facades, colours, landscaping and use of public realm are frequently impressive. 

On your visits, have you had a chance to sample the social side of Madrid? Do you have any recommendations? 
There is an awful lot to do in Madrid outside the main BCO conference programme. If you're planning to stay the weekend following then we'd certainly recommend checking out:

  • Restaurants: top end restaurants are very impressive. Zalacain and Pan de Lujo are exceptional. 
  • The three key art galleries: Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia are fantastic. 
  • Parks and gardens are beautifully maintained along with the top public buildings. 
  • Tea at the Ritz close to the Prado is a treat as are the many more modest bars and cafes around the Plaza Mayor in the old town. 

If you were to share one top tip with our conference delegates what would it be? 
A few top tips include: 

  • To try to make sure your taxi driver really knows where you want to go, trust but verify. 
  • Ask a local to order the wine. They choose top quality Rioja at worryingly reasonable prices. 
  • Do explore on foot, the distances are manageable and its’ great to be ‘on the street’. 
  • Book your restaurant in advance. Despite the rumours about Madrid being in dire financial straits, getting a table at a good restaurant is not achievable on spec. 
  • Be prepared to eat supper later in the day, the Spanish start their evenings at 9pm
Places are still available at this year's conference but we would encourage you to book soon to ensure your preferred tour choice.

For more information and how to book please visit www.bco.org.uk/conference

We look forward to seeing you in Madrid soon...

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