European Land has launched a “floating pocket park” as part of a series of initiatives to connect people with the water at its canal-side development Merchant Square.
The 7,850 sq ft floating park created by garden designer Tony Woods of Garden Club London allows office workers and the public to walk over the water on a series of decked platforms and walkways.
As part of the developer’s place-making strategy it also offers free superfast broadband around its estate. “The purpose of that is you truly step out and if you want to relax, you can draw up your Netflix account… or you can come out in the middle of the afternoon and do productive work on the garden,” says European Land chief executive Andrew Scrivener. “Our best moments and our best ideas are not created when you’re sat in a row of desks.”
European Land, the Reuben brothers and Jarvis family joint venture, owns and manages the 11-acre mixed-use neighbourhood, where it is currently delivering 2 Merchant Square, a 162,000 sq ft office building. “When you rent 1,000 sq ft of office in Merchant Square, you get 10 times as much space for free out in this external environment, so you don’t have to go and find another venue, in order to find somewhere to be creative,” Scrivener says.
The park, which will feature a series of pop-up events over the summer, is part of European Land’s plan to create a “holistic space” where it can “add real value to the working environment through things that we’re providing as part of the estate.” GoBoat London, the city’s first self-drive boating experience which allows groups of up to eight to hire a boat to relax or have floating meetings, has also launched this summer at Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal.
The initiative is supported by the Paddington Partnership – a collaboration between European Land and three other landowners at Paddington Basin – British Land, Derwent London and Land Securities. Scrivener says: “We sit down as a partnership on a quarterly basis and we share notes about what each of us are doing, and then we also then actively engage in joint projects, of which GoBoat is one of those, in order to make a difference to the place as a whole.”
The partnership has also improved signage in the area and connects all of their office occupiers through a corporate social responsibility programme. As long-term investors, the place-making strategy “supports the value of our existing assets and our future assets”, Scrivener says. “It’s a closed circle; so we invest in the location, the location invests in us.” He adds: “We live with the estate, we understand how people use the estate, what they want from the estate, we talk to people… see what they like and what they don’t like. We can adjust our plans, because nothing should be set in stone, just because you drew a plan 10 years ago doesn’t mean that you have deliver that in 15 years’ time. Because these estates take a long time to build out and that is the real benefit of what we’ve got here.”