Walthamstow Wetlands

The Brief

Located in the Lea valley, Walthamstow reservoirs are a unique location in terms of their industrial heritage and ecological value, but access to the public has been limited for over 150 years. The aim of this collaboration between Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water was to open up the landscape as a resource for local communities to access and enjoy, whilst at the same time protecting the habitat and rich mix of wildlife on the site.

A decommissioned Victorian pumping station – the Engine House – was repaired and upgraded to become the new Wetlands Visitor Centre housing exhibition, learning, retail and café space. The industrial structure was repaired and new external steel gantries added to create a platform opening up views across the valley. A 24 metre high new structure in brick was built on what remained of the original chimney, and the unique design provides nesting sites for swifts and bats. Extensive landscaping centred on the creation of a “green core” of naturalised landscape connected by new entrances, pathways and 2km of new cycle routes.


Waltham Forest Council


London E17


Kinnear & Witherford Watson Mann


53,000 ft²


  • Community


  • Project Management

The Challenge

The site is owned by Thames Water and has a SSSI/RAMSAR designation as a wetland of international importance. In addition to managing the usual complexities associated with working on a Listed Building, a key part of our role was to manage the competing demands of multiple stakeholders and funders, who included Thames Water, HLF, London Wildlife Trust, the GLA and Waltham Forest Council.

Having a project that combined the restoration of heritage assets with landscaping on such a large scale, and in such important habitats, required versatile project management planning as we engaged and led the team which included many specialist advisors. Initial works focussed on landscaping and the restoration and improvement of the banks of the reservoirs together with dredging. This allowed for planting to have longer to establish itself and for access paths to be in place prior to the start of the building works beginning to the Engine House.

The Outcome

Delivered to the highest design standards, the project creates a new landmark in North London and has won many industry awards and accolades including a RIBA London Award 2018 and a RIBA National Award 2018.




Water supplied to
0 m people
Number of reservoirs
“Hugely popular, it is an intelligent integration of architecture and landscape to create a new public space.”
The RIBA Journal

Other Projects We’ve Completed Include

White Eagle Lodge

The Cathedral & Abbey of St Alban

The Rose, Campbell Park