Google has submitted plans for an adventurous ‘landscraper’ UK HQ with a pool and a basketball court

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Google’s new King’s Cross office.
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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Google has finally submitted plans for its long overdue UK headquarters in King’s Cross, London.

The detailed plans show a Google building with a 3-lane 25 metre swimming pool, a 200 metre rooftop running trail, and a large sports hall with views over London.

The 11-storey “landscraper” building – described and depicted in a planning application filed to Camden Council – will be Google’s first wholly owned and designed Google building outside the US.

Referred to simply as “Building A” in the planning documents, the building has been designed by Olympic Cauldron architects Heatherwick Studios and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) around a “natural theme.” It’s unclear how much the building will cost.

Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studios, said in a statement that the new building will be made from a “family of interchangable elements” that “ensure the building and its workspace will stay flexible for years to come.”

Google hopes to start construction on the new 1 million sq ft building, which will be longer than the Shard is tall, in 2018, according to a press release on the King’s Cross development website.

But Google’s plans are well-behind schedule. The search giant announced in 2013 that it was planning to build a new UK HQ on the plot that it intends to build this new property on. At the time, it said the HQ would be ready by 2016. However, the initial £1 billion plans drawn up by AHMM were reportedly scrapped by Google cofounder Larry Page for being “too boring“. Google then took a lease on 6 Pancras Square – an existing property less than 200m away – and started moving Googler’s in last July.

The new building – combined with the current building at 6 Pancras Square and a mysterious third building – will create a Google campus in London with the potential to house 7,000 Google employees and is a clear indicator that the company remains committed to the UK, despite Brexit.

“We are excited to be able to bring our London Googlers together in one campus, with a new purpose-built building that we’ve developed from the ground up,” said Joe Borrett, director of real estate and construction, in a statement. “Our offices and facilities play a key part in shaping the Google culture, which is one of the reasons we are known for being amongst the best places to work in the industry.”


Designed to be low-energy and sustainable, the building sits on the northern fringe of Central London in an area that is now being referred to as the “Knowledge Quarter.” Institutions such as University College London and the Wellcome Trust have buildings nearby.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The building occupies the majority of a 330 meter stretch of land that runs parallel with train tracks that feed into King’s Cross Train Station.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Around 4,500 Googlers would be able to work at the building.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

A 300 metre-long roof terrace contains wildflower gardens and areas that are being referred to a “fields.” A number of relaxation areas can also be found on the roof terrace.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The roof contains a “trim trail” for runners and walkers with tranquil “pause areas” surrounded by meadow and woodland plants. It will provide Googlers with “the opportunity to exercise, meet or engage, away from the office floors.” There will also be an “amphitheatre” in the north-west corner that provides visitors with a 270-degree view of London.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The building has several floors containing floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The indoor sports hall would provide Googlers with the opportunity to play basketball and other sports while enjoying views over London.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

There will be retail units on the ground floor that the public will be able to access.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

A diagonal staircase — designed to make people interact more — will slice through the building’s 11 stories.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The building will also have a number of massage rooms, which can already be found in several of Google’s other offices.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Down at street level, the public will be able to access shops and cafes that are built into the Google building.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Designers Heatherwick Studios and Bjarke Ingels Group are also working on Google’s new global headquarters in Mountain View.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

On the south side of the building in London, Google will install timber mullions that can rotate 180 degrees, minimising glare on staff screens as the sun moves across the sky.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The northern end of the building overlooks Regents Canal and Granary Square, where a popular Kerb food market pulls in workers from nearby offices.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The building is formed of three component parts known as: roofplane, workspace volume, and ground plane.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

In a bid to make the building as environmentally friendly as possible, the designers also envisage solar panels with an annual output of 19,800 kWh, rainwater harvesting technology, and waste management facilities in the basement.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The Guardian’s headquarters are located on the other side of the train tracks, less than 200m away. They can be seen on the far right of this photo.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The designers envisage having a central core where Googlers can meet, with meeting rooms, cafes, and other facilities.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Canal boats will cruise past the Google office while engineers write code inside.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Google’s staff have a number of options when it comes to accessing the office. King’s Cross Station is well served by the London Underground and several mainline rail services. For those that live close by, there are rental bikes and bike storage facilities available.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Designs of the the interior suggest that there will be a lot of wood and vegetation.

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Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)