Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Heatherwick and BIG’s £600m Google HQ at King’s Cross set for approval

  • 1 Comment

Camden Council is set to back plans for a 300m-long headquarters for internet giant Google at King’s Cross designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio

Sitting on a ‘long, tapering plot’ just north of the mainline station, the project known as the Zone A Building will provide 80,819m² of space for the company on developer Argent’s flagship regeneration site.

The office will be the largest single building at King’s Cross Central, rising in height from seven to 11 storeys and housing more than 5,000 staff. The huge scheme will sit on a ‘plinth’ of shops punctuated by office entrances along its King’s Boulevard facade. The building will feature a three-lane, 25m-long pool and a massive landscaped roof including a 200m running and walking track.

Because of its size and importance, the reserved matters application for the building has been referred to the borough’s planning committee, who will consider the plans next week (10 August).

According to the council’s planning officers, the proposed design ‘responds robustly and thoughtfully to the historic forms and functions in which it would intervene’.

The report, which recommends approval for the designs, adds: ‘The gentle varieties and rigorous repetitions in the façade mitigate the intervention of this large new form into the townscape and wider context.

‘The building takes a new approach to the traditional office floorspace through creating triple and double height spaces which open up the function of the office space up through the elevation whilst maximising the daylight and sunlight onto the office floors.’

However, the Regents Canal Conservation Area Advisory Committee has objected to the proposal stating that it has ‘considerable misgivings’ about the northern end of the project, and the elevations overlooking Granary Square.

The body said: ‘The division into four horizontal layers [at this northern end] with uniformly repeated cornices is crudely handled and the treatment is overemphatic, whereas a calming effect is called for at this scale.

‘The handling of the elements within the panels at the subsidiary scale seems over complex and ill-thought through. The inevitable shade that will be cast on the square is already on the downside.’

The major office scheme has been on the drawing board in various guises for more than five years.

It 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 devise a new concept for the same site.

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

The King’s Cross team also includes AJ100 big-hitter BDP as executive architect, engineers AKTII and landscape specialist Gillespies.

Plans for the 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 & Associés 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

Reason for Referral to Committee: This application is being referred under part (ii) details of the siting, design and external appearance of more than 1,000m² of non-residential floorspace of the King’s Cross Delegation Agreement agreed by the Development Control Committee on 26 July 2007.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • A good attempt at downplaying the sheer size of the building, but the Camden Council planners' statement that 'The gentle varieties (sic) and rigorous repetitions in the facade mitigate the intervention of this large new form into the townscape and wider context' is surely giving it the benefit of the doubt.
    Image 6/21 - of the lower, narrower 'city' end of the building, facing the plaza between the two stations - shows what appears on first sight to be a three storey elevation fit for giants overlooking the pedestrian plaza, and there's surely some unintended symbolism in the way this overscaled megastructure worms its way through between the King's Cross suburban platforms and its various more human-scale neighbours across King's Boulevard, to glare balefully down upon the mere humans in Battle Bridge Place.
    The Regents Canal Conservation Area Advisory Committee's description of the northern end of the structure as 'overemphatic' could surely equally apply to the southern end.
    It's very, very difficult to understand Camden Council's planning officers' statement that 'the proposed design responds robustly and thoughtfully to the historic forms and functions in which it would intervene' unless that's what they'd call the behaviour of the intruder in Ridley Scott's classic film of 1979, 'Alien'.
    Any similarity to the behaviour of Google (and the parent that it spawned - Alphabet Inc.) is, of course, entirely coincidental.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.