Google’s London headquarters at King's Cross will form a new benchmark for office and workplace design. The bold approach of BIG and Heatherwick Studio takes Google’s challenging and demanding specification and creates a bespoke, mature office building that employs many unique features.
A new benchmark for workplace design at Google’s London HQ
Situated between the new King’s Boulevard to the west and King’s Cross station to the east, the building’s footprint varies from 60 m wide to the north to just 20 m to the south over its 330 m length.
To respond to the criteria of providing a building that can respond to the varying needs of the Google business, with loose fit and adaptable space, BIG and Heatherwick Studio chose to adopt a mixture of permanent concrete floor structure and less permanent timber floors. The concrete floors span the full width of the building, whereas two timber floors below are set inwards, creating double- and triple-height spaces. This strategy is applied to the ground floor plane, demanding a column-free western elevation, which has formed the basis for the rooftop transfer trusses and hung outer floor plates.
Although adding complexity to the build, this approach meets the challenges set by the architectural response to the unique office brief, net area demands, and the wider King’s Cross and public realm.
The timber floors are formed from CLT, spanning onto steel beams with an ‘inverted’ integrated services zone that reflects the building’s predominant displacement ventilation system. The concrete floors are constructed in a similar vein, adopting bespoke pre-stressed, precast panels supported by the steel frame. Off-site construction has been targeted to speed up construction and negate formwork risks near the live railway. Significant weight is applied to the roof structure, which houses planting, trees, amenity space and even a multi-use games area and 25 m pool.
The building is being constructed on and around existing assets forming access to King’s Cross station and adjacent to live Network Rail lines, all adding to the challenges this building poses.