Google finally gets the green light for its London ‘landscraper’ campus

Having been stuck at the design stage for years, Google has finally won approval to build its new London headquarters in the city’s vibrant King’s Cross district. Local council officials gave the project the go-ahead on Thursday.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group, the striking design has been dubbed “the landscraper,” as it’s far longer than it is tall.

Indeed, the 11-story structure will stretch for 330 meters and cover around 100,000 square meters, with the tech company occupying about 65 percent of the space. It will be the first wholly owned and designed Google building outside of the United States.

The first floor of the new campus will be home to a variety of shops and market halls and open to the elements. Entrances to Google’s office will be scattered throughout the space to create a “varied and open ground plane that can change with time,” the architects said in their plans submitted to Camden council.

So what will the 7,000 Googlers find when they move into the new building from their current offices dotted around town. Well, besides enjoying “light and airy workspaces,” they’ll also be able to make use of a multi-use games area for various sports activities and a three-lane, 25-meter swimming pool. If such exertions sound too much like hard work, they can head straight to the massage rooms and nap pods instead.

Perhaps the most striking part is the roof garden stretching almost the entire length of the construction. Decked out with wildflowers and woodland plants, the elevated green space will also feature a cafe and a 200-meter jogging course.

Heatherwick Studio founder Thomas Heatherwick described the King’s Cross area as “a fascinating collision of diverse building types and spaces  … Influenced by these surroundings, we have treated this new building for Google like a piece of infrastructure, too, made from a family of interchangeable elements which ensure that the building and its workspace will stay flexible for years to come.”

Bjarke Ingels, meanwhile, described the design as “rooted in the local character of the area [and] creating continuously cascading work environments that will connect Googlers across multiple floors.”

Google has been working on the design of its London office for a number of years. The original plan, which sported a similar-looking exterior to the final design, was the work of British firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) and was greenlit in 2013. But soon after, Google went back to AHMM and asked it to rethink the design. In 2015 the two parted company, with Google turning to Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group to continue the project.

Construction work on the new campus is set to start in 2018 … as long as Google doesn’t change its mind again.

Update: Google has received permission to begin construction of its new headquarters.