News 21.12.2023

Gillespies 2023 Highlights

The future of the built environment is poised to be a complex yet exciting landscape, that interweaves multiple threads of sustainability, resilience, people, inclusivity, technology and innovation. We believe each of these elements will play a crucial role in shaping our cities of tomorrow – a future that will strive to rebalance our fragile planet’s equilibrium while supporting humanity’s needs.

Planet

As a practice, we’re driven by the idea that by designing intelligently with nature we can bring about positive, meaningful change. The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) mandate will emerge next year as a beacon of hope for our planet's ecosystems, ensuring that all our actions leave a positive ecological legacy.

This year, we are working on several projects that will help us achieve this goal. These projects include Oxpens, a new sustainable, low-carbon innovation district in Oxford that will provide nature-rich public spaces, and Bushfield, a new knowledge and innovation hub in Winchester. The latter will provide over 26 hectares of publicly accessible, undeveloped and green open space for Winchester residents. This will be a valuable addition to the site's existing ecology and achieve a biodiversity net gain of over 10%. One of our major accomplishments this year is the launch of our practice roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality and Net Zero. Working with our partner Positive Planet, we have already made significant progress in our target of becoming carbon neutral in operations by 2025, and we are proud that 35% of our employees have already received Carbon Literacy Training.

We know we have a long way to go, but we are continually exploring new, innovative approaches that will help us achieve our goal of creating a better, healthier world for all living things. You can read more about our approach to climate-resilient design and carbon neutrality on our website.

People

Our diversity and strength of individual ideas is what makes us Gillespies, and this year we have seen a number of new initiatives that have seen staff take our messages out to the world. Giacomo Guzzon spoke at the prestigious Bergamo Landscape Festival, where he discussed how we can create and nurture plant communities in times of climate change. Sheena Bell took part in IEMA 2023 Connect, a conference for environment & sustainability professionals and Neil Matthew gave a talk about the innovative use of SuDs at Elephant Park. We are now represented on a number of influential Design Review Panels. We recognise the importance of our role in the wider community and continue to make a positive contribution through our project work. As part of our social value programme we have taken in students interested in a career in landscape, run workshops and volunteered for the City of Trees charity in Manchester. The London office moved premises at the beginning of the year, and we now have a very smart, plant-filled city centre address to host visitors.

Settings for new stories

Landscape is the means to reconnect us to the natural networks of which we are all part. By doing this well, we can create resilient and healthy spaces. We recognise the importance of creating inclusive places that cater to the diverse needs of all individuals and in particular urban dwellers, who can greatly benefit from connections with the natural world. 2023 saw the opening of the Level 27 garden at Landmark Pinnacle in West India Quay, an exquisite indoor garden with planting expertly curated by Gillespies and horticulture expert Phil Griffiths. Here, residents can find sanctuary amongst tropical planting, helping to foster a greater awareness of the natural world and improve wellbeing. Another major highlight was the successful on-site delivery of the landscape at the multi-award-winning Mayfield Park, a brand-new park in the heart of Manchester. Our work on the roof of Google’s new Headquarters in King’s Cross London is starting to take shape, and we are so excited to see our vision come to life.

We continue to apply our expertise and diverse cultural perspective to all types and scales of projects across the globe, with new projects this year in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Asia and the Americas. Highlights include the completion of Oriental One, a contemporary mixed-use destination in Shanghai. Our appointment on the Belfast Stories project, which is set to open by 2029, will deliver a unique destination in Northern Ireland, and we are undertaking our first project in Serbia.

This year, we have helped a number of developers and public authorities bring their stories and visions to life. Recent highlights include the completion of a 2.5 acre new park at Thames City in Nine Elms for client R&F Properties and the retrofit of the amphitheatre at Sheldon Square in Paddington for British Land. This space has been turned into a highly sustainable destination that is already proving immensely popular. We have also commenced the onsite retrofit of 3 Sheldon Square. This project involves a shift towards a wellness and people-focused approach to office design, with the addition of pre-fabricated red-steel balconies adorned with cascading plants to bring people closer to nature. We are also delivering exceptional new public spaces at Rochdale Town Hall, Stockport Exchange and Northampton Market Square, all on site, and have commenced work at Coney Riverside in York, North Quay in Canary Wharf and are delivering an ambitious vision for a new Health Innovation in Newcastle Upon Tyne , to name but a few.

As we close this chapter, we approach next year’s exciting challenges with fresh eyes and fresh thinking, guided and motivated by our four new pillars.

We believe every story deserves an exceptional setting. We can’t wait to hear yours.

Images: Bushfield Knowledge Park, Giacomo speaking at the Bergamo International Festival, Landmark Pinnacle, Sheldon Square and Mayfield Park.