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Google submits plans for Heatherwick and BIG’s £600m HQ at King’s Cross


Internet giant Google has submitted long-awaited plans for a massive new headquarters at King’s Cross designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio

Sitting just north of the mainline station, the £1 billion project known as the Zone A Building will provide 80,819m² of space for the company on developer Argent’s flagship regeneration site.

The delivery team behind the scheme, which has been on the drawing board in various guises for more than five years, includes AJ100 big hitter BDP as executive architect and landscape specialists Gillespies.

The huge office scheme was effectively put on hold in November 2013 after Google asked for AHMM’s consented scheme (pictured below) to be redesigned. Heatherwick Studio and BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) were subsequently brought in to come up with a new concept for the same site.

Both BIG and Heatherwick Studio are also working on Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California. The pair described the the King’s Cross scheme as a ‘Silicon Valley startup garage meets the London train sheds’.

Submitted as a reserved matters application to Camden Council this week, the King’s Cross project rises in height from seven to 11 storeys and will house more than 4,000 staff.

According to the submitted urban design report, the building will be lifted ’to create a column-free, varied and open ground plane that can change with time, akin to historic buildings such as Ledbury Market’.

The block will sit on a ‘plinth’ of shops, punctuated by office entrances, running along King’s Boulevard.

As well as a three-lane, 25m-long pool, the building will feature a huge landscaped roof including a 200m running and walking track.

Plans for the new London HQ have an estimated construction value of more than £600 million – £400 million for the shell and core, and around £200 million for the fit out.

Google’s staff are currently spread across offices in Covent Garden and Victoria, and the new offices will bring them together under one roof.

The tech giant already has a presence at the King’s Cross redevelopment site, having taken space inside 6 Pancras Square– a building designed by Wilmotte & Associes and fitted out by AHMM. 

AHMM's original proposals for Google new HQ (approved September 2013) - model shot

AHMM’s original proposals for Google new HQ (approved September 2013) - model shot

AHMM’s original proposals for Google new HQ (approved September 2013) - model shot


Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio
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.’

’This new building for Google is made from a family of interchangeable elements’

‘Influenced by these surroundings, we have treated this new building for Google like a piece of infrastructure too, made from a family of interchangeable elements which ensure that the building and its workspace will stay flexible for years to come’.

Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at Bjarke Ingels Group
’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.’


Readers' comments (5)

  • Chris Rogers

    Yikes. Big, isn't it? Not sure why the offset floors at the S. end, nor the eye-disturbing 'staircase' motif on the long elevations, which simply draws attention to its size rather than hiding it (as I'd assume most would prefer).

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  • When I first saw the CGI's I thought it must be the old AHMM scheme. Heatherwick must have had some input, but its difficult to see where. BIG have just done one of their simple diagrams. Whether it works or just becomes another office megastructure with little flexibility we shall see, but it certainly isn't a signpost for the future of office design. Frank Duffy and John Worthington must be tearing their hair out.

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  • A graceless overbearing lump of a building whose novelty features fail to compensate for the lack of scale awareness exemplified by the crude end elevation confronting the plaza between the two stations - big brother's watching you..

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  • Industry Professional

    Looks like the garden bridge has landed ....

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  • J Hawkins

    What 'glare free' and 'non veiling reflection' winter sunlight gains admittance on the south facing elevations due to the apparent vertical rather than the normal horizontal solar screening elements? The 'BIG' website likes employees on their CV page to have LEEDS accreditation.

    A solar tracking video would reveal whether K glass would be a waste of expenditure on the southern end...As for the large elevational extent of glass cladding...have things moved on from the Farnsworth House, designed in 1945 in designs for those abiding in the northern temperate zone?
    Anymore 'Passiv' than Mies Van Der Rohe in 1945, apart from the 'timber clad' appearance? Answers welcomed.

    Apart from all that CO2 related stuff, the office workstations do convey a sense of place due to idiosyncracy. Thanks to Google I could check the date of the Farnsworth House. Perhaps building design by algorithm will be next?
    Someone is bound to have tried. Again, answers are welcome.

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