Heatherwick and BIG design Google’s moveable HQ

The European architects have designed a complex that can be reconfigured to suit the firm's changing needs
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Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google
Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google

Google is to ditch its conventional suburban office buildings in Silicon Valley in favour of some mobile blocks. The designs of the internet giant’s new headquarters, the North Bayshore campus proposal, are the combined efforts of up-and-coming Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels Group and British designer Thomas Heatherwick.

With a combined age of just 85, Google has opted for a considerably younger pairing than its high-tech Californian neighbours. Apple has employed Norman Foster and Facebook is working with Frank Gehry - 79 and 86 respectively.

 

Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google
Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google

The Danish architects and London-based design firm plan to redevelop four sites in Google’s Mountain View home. “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,” says David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president of real estate and workplace services.

 

Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google
Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google

The translucent canopies will be draped on columns over the top of some more solid buildings. “With trees, landscaping, cafés, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature,” says Radcliffe. To create some of this space, parking will be subterranean.

 

Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google
Google's North Bayshore campus proposal, by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy of Google

Radcliffe explains his reasoning behind the joint commission: “The BIG studios, they're ambitious. They do a lot of very community-focused projects. Thomas on the other hand has this attention to human scale and beauty that I haven't seen in anyone before. You bring those two people together: someone who really thinks about function and form, and you couple that with beauty," he said. It’s unclear how the two studios are dividing the workload. Now it is up to the City Council to approve this proposal.

 

For a greater understanding of the firms behind this bold plan, take a look at BIG's page and Heatherwick Studio's page on the Phaidon Atlas, our peerless architectural resource. Sign up for a free trial here.


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