Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s newly designed UK HQ above its Westfield London centre reflects changing times in more ways than one
Earlier this year, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the owner of London’s well-known shopping destinations, relocated its UK headquarters from High Holborn to a new space above the shops at Westfield London, White City – the largest shopping centre in Europe.
It was a move designed to bring the firm’s employees closer together in an enhanced working environment. A walk around the new workspace, which has been informed and influenced by extensive employee consultation, reveals bespoke design features including a wellbeing room and mix of open spaces, ranging from a central auditorium to formal and casual meeting booths and secluded spaces for reflection and thinking time.
URW is no stranger to transforming spaces. The workplace project reflects the evolution of Westfield London into a lifestyle hub where people come together to shop, enjoy, live – and, of course, work. The 242,000 sq m destination hosts well-known retail names such as John Lewis & Partners, Primark and Prada, along with Puttshack – the world’s first super-tech indoor mini-golf experience.
Both of URW’s London centres – Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City – have flourished over the past decade, evolving into destinations where visitors enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment and special events. In 2018, the two centres welcomed a record 81.8 million visitors between them – an annual uplift of six per cent. Since opening in 2008, Westfield London alone has received more than 270 million visitors, generating over £9.2 billion in sales.
The centres have had a significant impact on their localities. Contributions to the local economy to date include over £200 million on improving infrastructure and connectivity, and more than £13.6 million in education and training. Westfield centres support 32,000 jobs in London. Thirteen per cent of jobs within both the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the London Borough of Newham are provided by URW. One in two Westfield London employees live within the six local west London boroughs, while one in five Westfield Stratford City employees live in Newham.
Looking forward, research published last year estimates the economic contribution of the firm’s existing centres in the UK capital to be the equivalent of £22-30 billion in gross value added (GVA) over the next 20 years.
The terrace of URW’s new office overlooks a huge swathe of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham currently undergoing an £8 billion regeneration, including new homes, offices, universities, leisure and dining facilities. Westfield London’s growth plays a major role in this ongoing project. The area is now home to Publicis Media’s 2,000 employees as well as BBC, ITV, Yoox Net-a-Porter and The White Company headquarters. Dining and culture brands have opened their doors to create a vibrant day and night economy. Already significant public realm improvements are evident, including green and pedestrian routes.
As Una O’Reilly, URW’s Group Director of Engagement and Employer Branding and HR Director UK/Italy, puts it: “Our London destinations continue to be catalysts for the development of the surrounding areas, making them attractive places to visit, work, live and enjoy, and we wanted our UK headquarters to be right at the heart of it.”
The London sites are mixed-use, and currently feature approximately 67,355 sq m of office space across the two locations. Residential units are also a priority, and URW has plans for close to 4,000 new homes across the capital, including affordable housing.
The business’s new UK HQ sits within the wider 4,180 sq m of office space created by a £600 million expansion of Westfield London in 2018. (It was this expansion which saw the destination become the largest shopping centre in Europe in its 10th anniversary year.)
The newly designed 2,508 sq m workspace is spread across two floors above the stores, with views across Westfield Square – a dedicated outdoor entertainment and events space and the focal point of the recent expansion. Special occasions here have already included a live screening of a royal wedding, Europe’s largest Eid shopping festival, the Westfield Presents live music platform, and the world premiere of The House with a Clock in Its Walls.