Part of the proposed office
Google has unveiled final plans for its luxury £1billion UK super headquarters with sleep pods, sports pitches and a rooftop ‘field’ with 200 metre running track to ensure ‘wellness’ for up to 7,000 staff.
The tech giant’s 870,000 sq ft building planned for Kings Cross in London will be the first office it has designed for itself outside California.
Described as a ‘groundscraper’ because the building will be as long as the Shard is tall – designers say when completed it will be one of the best places to work in the world.
The new office has been likened to a giant playground for staff and has a half Olympic sized swimming pool, ‘wellness and fitness centre’ with a gym and a large indoor sports hall for games of basketball and football.
Its breathtaking 300 metre long landscaped roof terrace will have ‘fields, gardens and meadows’ and a large rooftop cafe providing free food and drink to allow ‘Googlers’ to ‘escape from work’ and ‘relax’.
Inside the open plan office there are ‘pause areas’ surrounded by plants, trees and ‘living walls’ of greenery – and sleeping pods if staff need a nap or stay overnight after a long day.
Google has submitted plans to Camden Council for approval around two years after boss Larry Page ordered previous extravagant proposals be ripped up because they were too boring.
Google – which employs 4,000 people in the UK but has plans to employ up to 3,000 more – has commissioned a new 11-storey building with a floor space equivalent to more than ten football pitches.
It has already committed to a further two buildings on the King’s Cross Estate, which will eventually house 7,000 workers across three offices.
Joe Borrett, director of real estate and construction, said: ‘We are excited to be able to bring our London Googlers together in one campus, with a new purpose-built building that we’ve developed from the ground up.
‘Our offices and facilities play a key part in shaping the Google culture, which is one of the reasons we are known for being amongst the best places to work in the industry’.
It is being designed by Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group. Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group, joint architect of Google’s new building, said: ‘Our design for the new Google Campus at King’s Cross is rooted in the local character of the area, taking advantage of the contextually defined building envelope while creating continuously cascading work environments that will connect Googlers across multiple floors.
‘By opening up the ground floor and activating the roofscape, the light and airy workspaces are sandwiched between the terraced gardens on the roof – and market halls, auditoria and shops on the ground.’
In 2015 Larry Page, who co-founded the American technology giant, ordered the UK team to go back to the drawing board. Google originally hoped that the £1billion development would be ready in 2016.
It is known for its unusual offices around the world, which often feel more like a playground than a work space. The sprawling Mountainview site boasts an on-site bowling alley, a volleyball court, yurt-shaped meetings rooms and ‘pods’ for staff who want to sleep, not to mention 19 free restaurants and 60 snack kitchens.
Google’s offices in London’s Victoria – one of two in the capital – includes a room stocked with musical instruments, like a teenage boy’s fantasy bedroom.
The latest office plans look more like a luxury hotel in places.
Thomas Heatherwick, Founder of Heatherwick Studio, who jointly designed the new building, said: ‘As my home and the home of my studio for more than 15 years, I have a close relationship with King’s Cross.
‘The area is a fascinating collision of diverse building types and spaces and I can’t help but love this mix of massive railway stations, roads, canals and other infrastructure all layered up into the most connected point in London’. So what will become of Google’s existing quirky chintz-covered, pub-themed ‘hubs’?
Before its super-HQ is finished, Google’s three main offices are in central London – two close to Victoria station and the other near Covent Garden – and has another in London for its artificial intelligence arm, known as DeepMind.
Its main building is Central St Giles, a typical London tower block painted bright colours and filled with typical Google quirks. Based over five floors its strange rooms and spaces include a ‘Granny’s Flat’ with chintzy furniture and wallpaper as well as padded meeting rooms with airlock doors, including one decked out like an old London pub.
It has a kooky ‘Lala library’ with a comfy furniture and a large library for staff to use to relax and contemplate their work, while for major meetings there is the Flower Power boardroom.
Outside there is a grand and green roof terrace and a ‘Hedge Your Bets’ secret garden – complete with powerful WiFi allowing people to work from there.
Employees can plant and grow things at the building’s allotments but are thrown off if their work is not up to standard.
This competitive edge runs through all Google’s work because staff are encouraged to just take work off others if they believe they can do it better.
Those working there are served breakfast at their desks and have kitchens packed with free food and drink, while on a Friday the canteen, where food is also free, is converted into a free bar.
Describing life there Lee Penson, founder of its PENSON designers said: ‘It’s all about human beings and that’s it. Think sunken snugs, comfort, fun, comfy slippers, squishy carpets, cushions, daybeds, nice fresh food, gardening, vegetables, health, visual stimulation, relaxation, exercise, fresh air and you’ll get what it’s all about as a HQ.’.