Google first announced its intent to build a new UK headquarters on a plot of land behind King's Cross Railway Station way back in 2013, but the architects’ plans were scrapped because Google CEO Larry Page apparently wanted to rethink the company’s global property strategy to make sure each office was, forgive the pun, on the same page.
The publication of a YouTube video showing proposed plans for new buildings at the Mountain View Campus, in California, on Friday would suggest that Google and Page have done some serious thinking about what they want Google’s offices around the world to look like.
The plans, drawn up by London design firm Heatherwick Studio and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, depict a series of gigantic tent-like structures that share many similarities with the Eden Project in Cornwall, or the Center Parcs holiday villages scattered across England. A selection of photos can be viewed here.
The spaces would add 2.5 million square feet to Google’s existing campus and support an additional 10,000 employees on top of the existing 20,000 Googlers that already work there.
Speaking in the promotional video for the new Google Campus, Heatherwick says: “These are greenhouses that enclose and protect pieces of nature.
“We want to create, in effect, a piece of glass fabric and drape it across some tent poles. We’re blurring the outside world and the inside world.”
In the video, Google’s vice president of real estate, Dave Radcliffe, says: “The idea here is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas.
“How will we work five years from now? How will we work 15 or 20 years from now? We don’t know what it’s going to be but we know that it needs to be this incredibly flexible space for it to work.”
Page expressed his support for the plans by commenting on the YouTube video with an enthusiastic: “Nice video about our proposed campus released today!”
King's Cross dilemma
Whether these greenhouse designs will be reflected in Google’s new UK headquarters remains to be seen but there are signs that some of the prospective inhabitants of the new King’s Cross office may be growing impatient.
European director of Google for Work (previously Google Enterprise), Thomas Davies, recently said “the clock is ticking”.
"Given the heritage that we’ve had in the UK and Ireland, Larry actually wants to make a statement, that says, ‘You know what, this is a very special place for us and a very special building for Googlers,'" he said. “What I can say is all of the best experiences that we’ve learnt in Mountain View and Zurich about innovation - we’re having the best of that in London."
Google initially said that its £1 billion UK headquarters would be finished next year (2016) but, after a series of setbacks, the company recently told Techworld that there is no target completion date.
As the company stalls on its UK HQ, it announced last month that it will lease a recently-built property at 6 Pancras Square [opposite the plot for its new office].