Google’s engineering team begins its move to AHMM-designed King’s Cross HQ as the largest area of urban redevelopment in Europe continues to take shape
Google has started the first phase of its move to 6 Pancras Square, King’s Cross in London which will be home to its ever-growing engineering teams.
The new offices are part of a wider regeneration scheme, managed by Argent, that is taking place across a 67 acre site to the north of King’s Cross station.
The office, with interiors designed by AHMM, will see more than 1000 staff helping build and run some of Google’s core products including Android, Google Play, Search and Advertising. Since the opening of Google’s first international engineering office in London more than 10 years ago, Google has continued to invest in developing and hiring engineering talent in the UK.
Around 800 engineers will move in during the first phase (164,000 sq ft) and there will be a total capacity of 2,500 after the second phase is complete later this year (occupying a total of 371,000 sq ft).
After 150 years of industrial use, the whole Kings Cross area is being transformed. A string of architects, construction firms and developers have been working on 2000 homes, shops, offices, cultural venues, bars and restaurants and a university.
The King’s Cross project is the largest area of urban redevelopment in Europe and it will include the largest new street in London since Kingsway in 1904 and the largest public square since Trafalgar Square in 1845.
Much of the area’s heritage will be maintained by refurbishing 20 historic buildings and structures, including the listed Victorian Gasholders to the north of St Pancras station.
Wilkinson Eyre (known for Gardens by the Bay and the Cooled Conservatories in Singapore, the masterplan redevelopment for Jeddah’s central district, and London’s other major industrial repurposing global icon, Battersea Power Station) has created the world’s most unusual apartment scheme, where the apartments are designed as wedge-shaped pie slices within circular buildings.
To be completed in autumn 2017, Gasholders London will be built on concrete cylinders of 8, 9 and 12 storeys, clad in glass and aluminium and encased within the Grade II listed Victorian iron pillars and struts of the 123 gasholder frames, each weighing about 8 to 10 tonnes and which have spent the last two and half years being restored by hand at specialist engineering works in Shepley, Yorkshire, north England.
Elsewhere, Camden Council approved plans before Christmas 2015 for a brand-new part of King’s Cross: Coal Drops Yard, next to the Regent’s Canal, Gasholders London and Granary Square, will offer an exciting array of boutique shops and restaurants, opening to visitors in late 2018.
The design by Heatherwick Studio combines the bold re-use of the historic buildings at Coal Drops Yard with high quality contemporary architecture that will create a unique new retail quarter and major new public space at the heart of King’s Cross.
Also at the Kings Cross site is the New University of the Arts London Campus - Central Saint Martins, designed by Stanton Williams and winner of a WAN Award for Education in 2012. The £200m campus unites the college's activities under one roof. Completed in August 2011, the 40,000 sq m campus for 4,000 students and 1,000 staff provides Central Saint Martins with a substantial building, connected at its southern end to an old Granary Building, a rugged survivor of the area's industrial past.
The design combines the 19th century Grade II listed Granary building and transit sheds with a 200m-long new building that uses industrial materials and creates robust spaces for the students, full of natural light. An internal street draws daylight in and acts as a central circulation spine with suspended walkways, cafes and surfaces for projections. The Campus has added to the already vibrant area bringing extra trade and life to the areas shops, bars and restaurants.
Google’s new office has been built with sustainability and healthy materials in mind. The project engaged a carbon consultant to drive down the carbon footprint, resulting in an overall saving of 2,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions, enough carbon to power 900 return flights from London to Hong Kong.
Speaking about Google’s new offices Simon Allford of architects AHMM said: “We are delighted that Phase One of this key project to house Googlers at KX is now complete. This is the first of a series of projects for Google where we are pursuing the key idea of an inventive and responsive architecture of Theatre, Stage Set and Props. The core focus has been to create a highly adaptable workplace that is required by an every changing technology company’.
The project also pioneered the Healthy Materials Program, an initiative developed with the goal of eliminating harmful compounds from Google offices to create a healthier space with improved air quality.
Andrei Popescu, one of Google’s UK Engineering Directors said: “The UK has an incredible amount of engineering talent and as our team grows and we have this incredible new working space, we’re looking for more talented programmers to join us in London. We build some of Google’s most loved products right here in the UK including Android and voice search and our Google Play and ads teams build products to help developers and small businesses grow their audiences. With four of the top 15 Computer Science universities in the world in the UK and the ability to attract top engineers from around the world to London, the quality of engineering talent is second to none.”
Joe Borrett EMEA Director of Real Estate, Google, said: “King’s Cross is Google’s future home in London. We look forward to moving into 6 Pancras Square and working with our partners, the local community and becoming neighbours of the Knowledge Quarter."