The Westfield London Nature Reserve won the “Employee Favourite” prize of the 2021 Innovation Awards organised internally. We wanted to highlight this initiative launched in October 2020 as an innovative biodiverse space dedicated to showcasing diverse farming methods, raising awareness on the importance and benefits of nature, and collaborating with local partners and communities.
Bringing more nature in urban areas
The Westfield London Nature Reserve is a pioneering space which has been designed to feature a range of diverse horticultural areas and forms part of Westfield London’s ongoing commitment to the local area.
As said in this previous article on urban farming, the demand for nature in urban is growing: while global urbanization is still rising, an internal study showed that 77% of respondents wanted to be surrounded by more green spaces and trees. Hence the recent emergence of farming and green spaces in urban areas. In that respect, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has welcomed rooftop farms in several assets: for instance, with Sous Les Fraises at FarmHouse So Ouest, Peas & Love at Westfield Parly 2, or more recently the largest European urban farm with Agripolis at Paris Expo.
Westfield London project consisted in converting an unused plot of land into a nature reserve addressing key local environment issues. To create this space, Westfield London has worked collectively with Urban Planters and Timberland to open the Nature Reserve, and is launching a three-year sustainable partnership to support local schools and residents:
We are proud to sponsor The Westfield Nature Reserve. It perfectly aligns with our brand ethos of bringing communities together and investing in nature for a greener and brighter future. We couldn’t be happier with the partnership which we believe is the start of something really special. The space itself is a great place for local schools to learn about why being in nature is so important, not only for the future of our planet, but also our mental and physical health. This space gives us a platform to educate the local community on how they can make small changes on a grassroots level which together contribute towards a greener London.Andrea Simmen
Located behind the Southern Terrace at Westfield London, the Nature Reserve hosts a variety of different areas including a wild flower meadow, insect hotels, beehive, fruit trees, vegetable beds, herbs and a pond area. It will showcase different methods for growing fruits and vegetables to help visitors learn about sustainable food growing and the importance of caring for our environment.
Many benefits for the environment, local communities and visitors in line with Better Places 2030
The London Access Group has worked with Westfield London to design a safe and accessible space for visitors, providing practical guidance on all elements of the Nature Reserve, including signage design and accessibility of pathways. It aims at showcasing the beneficial effects of nature and the importance of caring for the environment :
We are very pleased to work alongside Westfield London in designing and delivering the Westfield Nature Reserve. We are excited to share our passion for protecting natural habitats and the value of plants with the local community. With people spending more time indoors than ever before, we’re encouraging people to surround themselves in nature. Plants not only improve the quality of the air we breathe by removing harmful toxins they also reduce stress levels and improve our mental health. The Westfield Nature Reserve provides a great place to engage with the local community on the benefits of plants and greener urban areas.Duncan Newman
The Nature Reserve space can be used by students from local specialist schools such as Jack Tizard School and Queensmill School. These organisations support young people with severe learning disabilities and autism. Students will be invited to explore the space and offered the opportunity to learn about the importance of nature, biodiversity and horticulture.
The Nature Reserve is an example of a project in line with the Better Places 2030 strategy and its three pillars (Better Spaces – Better Communities – Better Together). It shows how working together with contractors, retailers and local actors can help the local communities and environment to flourish.
At Westfield London, we’re always looking to create new experiences and the Nature Reserve is a great example of how we can work together to create meaningful activations that align with our ethos and commitments to our local community.Jacinta Rowsell