White City is transforming into an exciting west London neighbourhood, thanks to a multi-billion pound revitalisation. We find out about the district's new residential development, White City Living by St James, which is offering people the chance to become part of the new community.
White City is fast becoming one of London’s most exciting new neighbourhoods. Surrounded by world-class education, culture, entertainment, and retail offerings, White City is well placed in west London’s zone two, boasting easy transport links including two Tube stations on its doorstep. As Upstream’s – a partnership between Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Imperial College London – managing director, Prema Gurunathan explains, “[White City] wants to be the best place in Europe for people to do business – for everyone.”
In White City, there is “a huge sense of regeneration,” Gurunathan continues. “We’ve started drawing in key businesses – the White Company, the BBC, Net-a-Porter… We’re branding this area as the White City innovation district, and using that as a way to draw people here and talk about it. There’s going to be a lot of collaboration and innovation… and there’s also a cultural offering as part of this. [For example] Westfield has Exhibition London, which is a huge exhibition space.”
It’s important to Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Gurunathan says, that the people living in White City – especially those in the estates – benefit from the changes. “We engage a lot with businesses but also with non-profits,” she says. “We want to create a recognisable community… There is a sense that things are happening here. There’s a sense that it’s going to be beautiful, and we want residents to be able to access the opportunities at their doorsteps.”
With White City changing and regenerating so rapidly, thousands of new jobs are being created and the area has begun to see an increase in foot traffic as people explore the new restaurants, start commuting to their new offices, or visit White City House, a Soho House offshoot. One thing that seemed to lag behind, however, was the residential offerings – and this has since been rectified. The first residential development, Television Centre, launched in 2016.
A St James development, White City Living, quickly followed; now three years in to a ten year project, the development has completed its first phase, and has recently launched its second: The Water Gardens. Set in the heart of the burgeoning White City neighbourhood, White City Living was previously a retail warehouse space, and has been designed by well-known architects Patel Taylor. Once the development completes its five phases, it will bring over 2,300 new homes to the area, set amongst a five-acre park and water garden.
“The thing that [St James] really bring to the area is the parkland,” says Katie Thompson, sales & marketing director of White City Living. “We’re the centre, we’re the heart of White City, and [parkland] was something that was lacking, so we took it onto our development. We took on eight acres of open space, including a five acre public park.” Rather than create one five acre park and put it in the middle of White City Living, St James decided to split the green space into two; once complete, the gardens at White City Living will feature more than 6,500 individual plants and trees – these have been specially chosen from over 40 different species, across four continents.
Splitting up the gardens into two “ensures that everyone within the development enjoys some greenery and open space,” explains Thompson. “It allows us to create a lot of different park areas for people to explore. There will be a water feature that appears across the development, popping up in different areas. There will be larger open, green spaces, and then as you get further in the development it gets denser, with smaller garden pockets. [The green space] will have lots of different functions. It’s all about making something that is flexible. We spend a lot of time on our landscaping; it gives it that calm influence – it’s a bit of an escape.”
Inspired by the Japanese-British exhibition held in White City in 1910, the Water Gardens launched in January 2020 and comprises of 526 new homes, spread across three buildings. The first collection of properties available to buy are the Waterside apartments; these include one, two and three-bedroom homes with views of White City Living’s amazing water feature; a central stream that makes its way through 150 metres of lush landscape, before cascading over waterfalls and moving under bridges to reach a clear pool.
The Water Gardens phase, Thompson mentions, has been “designed to give the buildings the best aspects. One of the buildings sits on a cascading waterfall. Meanwhile, we’ve developed the design [of the Cassini tower] where the curved shape goes all the way around, giving beautiful 360 degree views. Some of the spaces that will be in the Cassini tower will be fantastic … [the building] goes up to 34 floors. [In every building in the Water Gardens phase], the apartments have huge windows that are full height, running wall to wall. Everyone has outdoor space by form of balcony or terrace.”
Thompson explains that St James felt it was important to maintain a distance of 65-70 metres between each building, and create differences in elevation, giving residents privacy from the neighbouring complexes. “We try and think of all these things when we’re designing, and we’re very conscious that we don’t want big ‘chunks’ of building,” she says. “When [Taylor] was designing it, it was almost to mimic the New York skyline.”
“If you were standing in the park, rather than looking at a big chunk of building you would be able to point out your own apartment,” Thompson continues. “You feel like you’re part of that building. The other nice thing is there’s lots of white façade and bronze detailing [on the buildings], so the sun is even hitting our north facing apartments, and the apartments are really bright. It’s about making sure that it’s an enjoyable living environment outside as well as inside.”
As well as sophisticated apartments and a rich landscape, residents of The Water Gardens will have access to White City Living’s range of facilities, which act as an extension of their home. The Water Garden Lounge offers residents a calm place to work, relax or socialise while looking out over the water. Residents will also have access to The Club Lounge, which consists of an indoor open fire, private dining room, two 12-seater cinema rooms, a fully equipped business suite and a multi-purpose entertainment suite.
“It’s a nice space, a good setting to relax,” says Thompson “It’s got a members club feel, and is included within their service charge. Residents can also hire out the private dining room, which has a fully functional kitchen - it’s a chef’s level kitchen. The private dining room opens out onto a bigger entertainment space so you can host up to 150 people, and you’d pay for the cleaning of it but otherwise it’s free to use.”
White City Living also offers residents a range of wellness amenities, including a 17-metre swimming pool with an adjoining sun terrace, a gym with personal training areas, and spa facilities that include two treatment rooms and a steam room. “The facilities are for the entire development,” Thompson explains. “We work with experts to plan the shared space to accommodate for the number of people living here, and we try to over plan as well. The facilities are big enough for everyone here – but, for example in the new phase, we have put another lounge space in, which has a different interior.”
If this wasn’t enough, residents of White City Living only need to step out of their homes to find a range of shopping, dining and entertainment offerings on their doorstep. White City is growing fast, becoming a hub for education, technology and innovation – but it also boasts Europe’s largest shopping centre, Westfield London. With over 400 stores inside its doors, Westfield London offers White City Living residents everything they could need – including over 100 restaurants, cafes and bars, all within a 10-minute walk.
“It’s not just about shopping and retail,” Thompson explains, discussing Westfield. “It’s got cinemas, restaurants, kid’s facilities, bowling alley, PutShack… it fits in really nicely with us. It’s also got a Home quarter; shops that are on the Kings Road have opened up their second stores in White City. John Lewis opened last year – it’s the biggest of its type – and they’re really focusing on lifestyle and making things easy for the West London buyer. It really compliments what we’re doing in the area.”
With a mixture of contemporary architecture, stunning interior finishes, beautiful landscaping, and endless possibilities on the doorstep, it’s clear why White City Living is going to become a thriving residential hub for the neighbourhood. As St James move through the phases of White City Living, the developer is also aware of needing to futureproof, and the potential that some architecture might be tweaked. “It’s a ten year project,” says Thompson. “We want things to change, we don’t want to keep them the same, so [between phases] we pick out the bits that we know people love and make them better. We want the [White City] story to continue.”