Leading the way in sustainability: Introducing 20 Water Street

Inspiring Spaces

Earlier this year (April 2022), JLL opened one of the most sustainable buildings in the UK; its new office at 20 Water Street, Wood Wharf, London E14.

Sitting at the heart of Canary Wharf Group’s (CWG) new five million sq ft district, comprising mixed-use space and nine acres of waterside boardwalks and green space, the Canary Wharf workplace is JLL’s first office specifically designed to embrace a new way of hybrid working.

We visited the office recently and were struck by how calming the space was. The neutral colours, natural materials and internal greenery make for a welcoming setting above the undeniable tranquillity of the waterside.

Nestled amongst the cluster of skyscrapers which are still home to some of the world’s biggest banks, Wood Wharf marks another step change in the area’s colourful history. Once the centre of the fruit and veg trade from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands (from which it takes its name), later a rival to the City of London financial district, the area has been somewhat neglected in recent years, until the inception of Crossrail brought new opportunity.

Both JLL and Canary Wharf Group will work in partnership to improve sustainability performance and exceed BRREAM targets. The green lease clause will see Canary Wharf Group and JLL procure renewable energy for the building, ensure it is energy efficient, minimise waste and maximise recycling, and agree a series of performance and energy targets to enhance best practice and participate in an estate wide sustainability forum held with tenants.

JLL’s vision for the workplace of the future

The project had to be an exemplar for both JLL’s people and clients and to meet JLL’s targets for their Net Zero Carbon 2025 milestone. It was designed with a clear focus on collaboration, sustainability and inclusivity, (targeting WELL Platinum, SKA Gold, BREEAM Excellent).

JLL appointed Tétris to deliver a space that met all JLL’s Inclusive Workspaces Standards, putting people at the heart of the design to ensure the space promoted employee wellbeing. In completion, the space features a mix of meeting and hybrid rooms, breakout areas, cafes and kitchens, huddle spaces, demo and innovations zones, standing rooms, acoustic meeting pods, garden lounges and balconies. There are also male, female and gender-neutral toilets following the new guidelines from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Adaptability and flexibility were also central to this project, with a plan that allows for the reconfiguration of internal spaces without costly and wasteful demolition. This also supports agile working, with modular parts that can be easily adapted to meet evolving needs both now and in the future. JLL incorporated features such as height adjustable workstations, furniture that accommodates different body shapes and sizes, and a variety of working and social environments for neurodiverse needs.

Since Covid restrictions lifted, we’ve heard much about the role the workplace needs to play to draw people back, and this space certainly meets the brief – you’d be hard pushed to find a better work environment for collaboration, creativity, or focus. It’s clear this space is not just paying lip-service to the value of the watercooler moment either, with social moments encouraged throughout; cosy corners for informal 121s, standing huddle desks to inspire creativity, or quiet spaces to settle into a bean bag and relax (ample plug sockets, excellent Wi-Fi, and beautiful furnishings wherever you choose to be).

Innovation is evident throughout the spaces, with the design ensuring the right infrastructure for future-facing smart technologies to be implemented, with a user-friendly human interface. The workplace benefits from AI powered sensors to monitor occupancy and air quality, the technology can point out to the user a specific area/desk that would suit their needs, as well as smart lockers and ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi complementing JLL’s own intelligent workplace app.

An exemplar approach to sustainability

80% of the furniture in the office is from remanufactured or refurbished sources including JLL’s former office at 40 Bank Street. The assets not re-used from the previous office were rehomed, with 1,250 items used in schools and elsewhere in the JLL portfolio. Stand-out examples include worktops made of 100% recycled post-industrial waste, an acoustic soffit spray from recycled natural materials, and recycled leather waste used as finishing material for the reception desk and more.

This is a workspace that cultivates a sense of place and belonging, while creating an environment that is comfortable, sustainable, inclusive, flexible, reassuring, innovative, reflective and exemplary.

And when you’ve finished admiring the furniture, the planting, and you’ve wrestled yourself out of one of the beanbags in the quiet room, it’s hard not to enjoy the riverside. Whilst much of the development is still underway and hidden by hoarding-lines, a host of bars and restaurants have popped up either side of the river to entice you to stay that bit longer, well why not, it’s a lovely place to be.

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