Having inhabited a variety of workspaces—from a farmhouse in Denmark to an entire city block in New York—Google are no strangers to unique and inspiring offices. The ambitious design plans for the new headquarters, designed by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick, have only recently been proposed to the Mountain View City Council in California. Already causing a stir online, the plans reveal a vibrant and self-contained town built from scratch. Flexible, eco-friendly and visually outstanding, the core concept is to create not only a new home for the world's most innovative company, but to also create a community, and enhance the local natural habitat.
The ambitious design will come as no surprise to those of us who have seen the scale of previous ventures. Despite having been champions of the most innovative commercial architecture for some time, Google are still embarking on new and exciting projects, and we are fortunate enough to be able to share and discuss this particular project with you today. Let's take an in-depth look at the individual components of Google's soon-to-be built Mountain View HQ:
The project aims to unite nature and modern architecture to form a vibrant and dynamic space. Green spaces and large-scale office buildings will exist side-by-side as part of an expansive, but also self contained, community. However, though the design is certainly 'exclusive', it isn't invite only; whether you want to go for a run, have a picnic with friends, or just check out the views—everybody is welcome!
Google already have office buildings on this site: the proposal is to redevelop, and significantly increase the square footage of the headquarters. Mountain View was chosen by the company 15 years ago as the location for the HQ because of the beauty of the bay, the close proximity to great universities, the family-friendly environment and the chance to work in a city at the heart of Silicon Valley. Google want to give back to the community that has supported and welcomed them from the beginning.
Instead of constructing immovable concrete buildings, the team decided on adaptable, lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily.
Always ahead of the game, it was important to Google that the design incorporated climate control features. The large translucent canopies, which hang over the reinforced structural poles in a tent-like fashion, let in plenty of light and fresh air.
The canopies cover each site, creating an 'indoors' that looks more like a park. The blurring of boundaries between nature and architecture is exactly what Google, along with the architects, set out to achieve with this design. Bike lanes, grassy knolls, cafés, and offices form the landscape of this vast area which embraces the order and beauty of both natural and man-made spaces.
On the topic of green spaces, one of Google's key priorities with this project is to bring new life to the unique natural environment. Whether it's enhancing burrowing owl habitats, or widening creek beds, Google are doing their best to protect and encourage local wildlife, and make the new HQ an ecologically sensitive area.
Saving energy is also on the agenda—Google's recent agreement to offset their energy consumption in North Bayshore with renewable energy includes the development of this proposal.
Keeping the community, and not just the business, in mind, Google realised that this project was an opportunity to give back to the Mountain View area. The plans incorporate numerous bike paths and retail opportunities, such as restaurants, providing jobs and revenue, as well as giving other local businesses the chance to flourish.
The Google HQ is to be a 'neighbourhood' and not a 'fortress'—this means the area is not just for employees, but for anyone who wants to enjoy the stunning surroundings and make the most of the green spaces. In fact, Google hope to embody the liveliness of an urban neighbourhood that people really feel a part of.
Let's take a moment to focus on the people behind the project. The Google HQ design is the result of a collaboration between prominent British architect and founder of Heatherwick studios, Thomas Heatherwick, and renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG.
emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes, and Ingels was selected by Google for his community focused approach to design, in line with their objective to provide a space which serves and facilities the community. Heatherwick was selected for his attention to both scale and beauty, as evidenced in his extensive portfolio.
The professional partnership between the two architects and their respective companies has resulted in a design more creative and unique than could have been devised by one single mind, and one single approach.
Creativity breeds creativity and so, logically, a creative approach to office design will filter down into the attitude of the people who work there. Google's working environments are known for accommodating the needs of employees, allowing them to take time out and relax when necessary to increase their overall productivity, and of being both stimulating and comfortable. This design lives up to, and even surpasses, expectations—a truly spectacular project!
We hope you've enjoyed this exploration of the new Google HQ. For related projects, take a look at the following ideabooks: