The Google London headquarters building at King's Cross will undoubtedly form the new benchmark for office and workplace design. Its bold approach by BIG and Heatherwick Studio takes the challenging and demanding specification Google require, and they have created a truly bespoke and mature office building, employing many unique features.
Situated between the new King's Boulevard to the west, and King's Cross station to the east, the building’s footprint is constantly varying from 60 m wide to the north, to just 20 m to the south over its 330 m length. To respond to the Google brief criteria of providing loose fit and adaptable spaces, and a building that can respond to the varying needs of the Google business, BIG and Heatherwick chose to adopt a mixture of ‘permanent’ concrete floor structure (the infrastructure) and less permanent timber floors. The concrete floors span the full width of the building, whereas two timber floors below set inwards, creating double- and triple-height spaces below. 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 has met 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, reflecting the building’s predominantly displacement ventilation system. The concrete floors are constructed in a similar vein, adopting bespoke prestressed, 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 lap pool.
The building is being constructed on and around existing assets forming access to King's Cross station, and adjacent to Network Rail live railway, all adding to the challenges this building poses to all involved. We are currently collaborating with the Lend Lease construction team and key subcontractors in readiness for piling to start at the end of 2017.
A new benchmark for workplace design at Google's King's Cross HQ
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Heatherwick Studio