How MediaCity keeps health and wellbeing at the forefront
It may be Selling Sunset in LA but in Salford it’s all about selling the MediaCity experience to potential occupiers who want desirable space conducive to the health and wellbeing of its employees, writes Jo Whittaker of Peel L&P.
Without doubt, the quality of our daily environment influences our health and wellbeing. However, it has only been in recent years that developers have elevated this element to the top of the design process. Wellbeing is now considered a key pillar in the placemaking mix, both on an academic and practical level.
We recognised the importance of wellbeing early on when developing MediaCity – particularly when it came to providing appealing public realm. The lessons we have learned are valuable to developers across the property community.
Ten years ago, MediaCity’s wide-open spaces, including its vast piazza – large enough to accommodate 185 double deckers – and its award-winning gardens seemed excessive to some. People wondered: ‘Was all this space really necessary?’
The answer has been a resounding ‘yes’.
All its airy expanse and endless water frontage overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal has come into its own, bringing the MediaCity community and its locals together in a way that is proving to be significant beyond measure.
I asked Josie Cahill, MediaCity place director, about how people interact with the space.
“Occupiers and visitors to MediaCity love the car-free spaces for walking, running, cycling and the open water swimming here is also incredibly popular,” she said.
A successful approach to wellbeing requires more than just ample open spaces. We want to ensure the place has a sense of community as well. At MediaCity this has been achieved through a robust events programme that offers activities that are free for everyone to attend.
Josie said it best: “Whether its meeting work mates in our independent pop-up Box on the Docks, enjoying Wimbledon on the big screen, or wandering through Quays Cultures’ annual light installations – it all adds to the experience of being here.
“This summer, we’re hosting our first We Invented the Weekend Festival, which we’re incredibly excited about,” she continued. “Occupiers love the fact this is accessible to them and it’s right on their doorstep.”
If developers are serious about boosting health and wellbeing in their projects, they need to look beyond just the public realm. We have embraced that concept at MediaCity.
The health and wellbeing of occupiers isn’t just considered the responsibility of the individual business, but part and parcel of the MediaCity experience.
This week, MediaCity is hosting Wellbeing LIVE – a jam packed day of all things wellness, from workshops on how to beat the burn out, coping with financial stress to interviews with Radio 1 presenters Dean McCullugh, Katie Thistleton and comedian Russell Kane. All the events are free and accessible to all within the community.
This isn’t a one off. The events programme has integrity with ARRIVE – Peel L&P’s newly expanded and refurbished flexible workspace, delivering a rich and varied line up with a bias towards health and wellbeing.
Rebekah Beere, head of operations for ARRIVE, told me how the workspace incorporates this wellbeing focus.
“Creativity and collaboration has always been at the core of MediaCity’s identity and continues to be a common thread which binds the SME community together,” she said. “Some of this happens by a chance conversation in the communal hubs but what we’ve realised is there’s a real hunger among our occupiers to totally absorb the MediaCity experience while enjoying the space we have to offer.
“Our community co-ordinators organise a range of regular events from net walking to lunchtime yoga as well as socials in the communal hubs with invites extended to friends and family, a touch which our occupiers appreciate,” Rebekah continued.
“We’ve also recently responded to feedback by introducing sleep pods which effectively gives occupiers the space for down time should they need it at any point during the day. We spend the majority of our time at work so we try and create that home from home feel within our workspaces.”
By providing gorgeous public realm, hosting dynamic community events, and listening to occupiers we have been able to deliver a health and wellbeing programme that does more than just pay lip service to the idea. If developers truly believe that wellbeing should be a priority, that kind of commitment is critical when we’re making a place.
The results are well worth it, as we have found.
MediaCity has evolved from a cluster of corporate buildings rising from the banks of the Ship Canal when it was first open for business in 2011. It now has heart and is proving to be good for the soul. It might not be LA, but it still has sunsets to die for. Just check out its Insta feed.
- Jo Whittaker is the senior content manager for Peel L&P at MediaCity.