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.
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
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.