With 3 ‘real estate Oscars’ in 4 years, Poland ranks high

After two projects from Poland received MIPIM 2020 awards, the country climbed to 11th place out of 33 in the ranking of winners. Poland Today dug a bit deeper to find out which countries are at the top of the rankings and where Poland fits in, as well as some of the history behind this year’s winning projects.

As most in the Polish real estate market now know, two schemes from Poland – Granary Island in Gdańsk and Monopolis in Łódź – recently won MIPIM Awards 2020 prizes in the categories Best Urban Project and Best Mixed Use Project respectively. This brings Poland’s total number of MIPIM Awards to three since 2017 – Ghelamco’s Warsaw Spire won Best Office & Business Development that year – and five in total – the Foster + Partners’ designed Metropolitan office building in Warsaw, developed by Hines, won Best Business Centre in 2004, and Andel’s Hotel, developed by Warimpex and owned by Vienna House, won the Special Tribute Award in 2010. 

Where are the winners from Austria?

That places Poland in 11th position in the ranking of MIPIM Awards winners since the competition was first launched in 1991. At the top of the pile is France, with 36 winners, followed by Germany with 29, the UK with 25, and Belgium with 21 (see full list below). In total, 33 countries have won MIPIM Awards and there are some curious idiosyncrasies, such as the fact that no project from Austria has ever won an award and – showing a geographic bias – there are no Asian countries in the top 10, while a country as large as the USA has only 3 winning projects. This may be down to the fact that MIPIM Asia has run its own awards event since 2007, and the USA has several of its own major real estate events, reducing its presence at MIPIM.

600 years of trade history

For the 30th edition of the MIPIM awards there were 228 projects from 45 countries in 12 categories evaluated by the jury. For the Best Urban Project award, Granary Island (Wyspa Spichrzów in Polish) competed with Tivoli Green City in Brussels, Moscow River quays in Moscow, and La Cite Fertile on the outskirts of Paris. The regeneration scheme, where the first granaries appeared more than 600 years ago, was for centuries a centre of trade but during WWII the island was virtually destroyed, with just three buildings surviving. However, in recent years it has been brought back into public use, thanks to a series of construction projects. 

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this award”, said Marnix Galle, Executive Chairman of Immobel, the Belgian developer behind the project. “It is a recognition of our strategy which focuses on the development of highly complex real estate projects in major European cities.” 

In partnership with RKW Architektur +, Kwadrat Studio Architektoniczne and Mąka Sojka Architekci, Immobel preserved the concept of the traditional grain sheds, translating their unique style into modern architecture. Designed in the spirit of New Urbanism, Granary Island is a return to the classic structure of urban space, based on local history, atmosphere, ecology, functional mix, and building tradition – according to the project’s website.

Granary Island in Gdańsk, the 600-year-old trading site which won Best Urban Project at the MIPIM Awards 2020
Granary Island in Gdańsk, the 600-year-old trading site which won Best Urban Project at the MIPIM Awards 2020

The solitaire in the crown

Recent projects on Granary Island include the 240-room Holiday Inn Gdańsk City Centre by the mouth of the Motlawa river, developed by Austrian developer UBM Development in 2019 and operated by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The hotel consists of two seven-storey buildings connected by a glass passageway. The historic walls of the old granaries have been preserved and incorporated into the structure of the hotel. 

“With our hotel, we have been able to place the solitaire in the crown of the island and are therefore particularly pleased to receive the (award),” said UBM CEO Thomas G. Winkler

“The former ruins on Granary Island in the ‘Heart of Gdansk’ were transformed into an outstanding architectural, sustainable hotel project which UBM Development is very proud of,” added Poland-based UBM Development board member Sebastian Vetter.

A winner from the ‘old continent’

The other Polish winner – business and cultural centre Monopolis in Łódź – competed against the following projects for the Best Mixed-Use Development award: office & cultural building Îlot Balmoral in Montreal, Canada, Singapore’s retail, office and serviced-residence scheme Funan, and a mixed-use skyscraper in Thailand called Mahanakhon. The historical name of the place is Monopol Wódczany, and for a century the site was occupied by a factory producing vodka. Monopolis offers 23,400 sqm of office space and 5000 sqm of space for service units such as restaurants, cafés, wine bars and galleries. Offices are located in the main building of the former factory and include green terraces on the rooftops. Monopolis also provides cultural and recreational space, and for kids there is a kindergarten and a playground. The developer of the investment is Polish company Virako and the project was designed by studio Grupa 5 Architekci.

“We are extremely happy that Monopolis has won this award”, said Virako CEO Krzysztof Witkowski. “We competed with three excellent projects as the only representatives of the ‘old continent’ “.

The distinctive name and logo of Monopolis, which in ancient Greek means “city in a city”, were created by the late Polish designer Janusz Kaniewski, a graduate of the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin who, amongst many prestigious assignments during his career, had designed for Ferrari.

Monopolis in Łódź, the former vodka factory which won Best Mixed-Use Project at the MIPIM Awards, taking the city's tally to two
Monopolis in Łódź, the former vodka factory which won Best Mixed-Use Project at the MIPIM Awards, taking the city's tally to two

Łódż – MIPIM Awards hotspot

While it may surprise some that two of the five Polish winning projects have come from Łódź, it won’t surprise those who know the city, which has undergone a business renaissance in recent years since French retail developer Apsys showed courage and foresight in equal measure and took on the mammoth task of converting the 27-hectare former IK Poznański cotton processing factory into a modern retail and cultural hub called Manufaktura, which opened in 2006. Now most of the major developers in Poland, including Echo Investment, Ghelamco and Skanska – have opened commercial projects in the city, and this year MMG opened its landmark Hi Piotrkowska scheme in the city centre. 

“MIPIM Awards are considered the ‘Oscars’ of the real estate world and the fact that two of them went to our city is of great importance,” said Adam Pustelnik, the recently-appointed Deputy Mayor of Łódż. “Łódź has a unique city structure and identity, so such a spectacular appreciation is especially valuable in this context.”

This year’s MIPIM Awards event took place during the recent inaugural Paris Real Estate Week, which was created after MIPM in Cannes was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. MIPIM is scheduled to return to its regular early spring time slot at the Cote d’Azur, from 16-19 March, in 2021. Paris Real Estate Week included Propel by MIPIM (previously known as MIPIM Proptech Europe), which focused on innovation in property, MIPIM Urban Forum, a day of events dedicated to new urban challenges, and The Hospitality Summit


MIPIM Awards winners, by country, since its creation in 1991

1. France 36 winning projects
2. Germany 29
3. UK 25
4. Belgium 21
5. Denmark 12
6. Italy 8
9. Netherlands 6
11. Poland 5
13. Czech 4
15. China 3
18. Canada 2
    Hong Kong
    South Korea
23. Australia 1
    Sri Lanka

Note: if a project won two awards in one year and one of the awards was a ‘special country award’ (or equivalent) because its country was ‘country of honour’ (or equivalent) that year, it was not counted twice in these rankings. 

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