Decoding Design

Google Zurich reworks office design

Google Zurich reworks office design

Posting in Architecture

Google's EMEA Engineering Hub in Zurich represents a new type of working environment and a new way of designing the work environment.

The Google office in Zurich is probably cooler than yours.

At 12,000 square meters (129,000 square feet) Google's EMEA Engineering Hub in Zurich is the largest Google Engineering Center outside the US headquarters in Mountain View, California. The 800 employee office represents not only a new type of working environment but also a new way of designing the work environment.

To harness the company's distinct personality, the designers, Camenzind Evolution, applied 'emotional comfort', an approach to design that takes personalities and sensibilities into account. The research based design process was enhanced by a psychologist who analyzed the functional and emotional needs of the Zooglers (i.e. Googlers in Zurich).

The Zooglers participated throughout the architectural design process by providing insight, challenges, and stamps of approval. The very interactive and transparent project gave the workers a sense of ownership of their office.

According to the employee survey conducted by the designers and psychologist, the Google culture revolves around the following:open communication, creativity in all aspects of their work, and food and fun.

Some of the innovative schemes inspired by Zooglers' ideas include:
1. Personal workspaces that resemble living areas
2. A variety of sizes and types of meeting rooms scattered throughout, including many informal meeting areas with relaxed, lounge like atmospheres to foster creative discussion
3. Firepoles and slides as vertical circulation to introduce elements of fun and speedy movement. The unusual circulation pieces provide quick connections between floors. The slides and firepoles link special areas with specific groups and offices. The fastest, steepest slide connects to the main cafeteria.
4. Communal areas combine fun and entertainment or relaxation to accommodate individual preferences for socializing. Some rooms offer meditative, quiet spaces to clear the mind and literally consider ideas from a different angle. Other areas provide games and more active amenities.

Google's resulting EMEA Engineering Hub is a lively, flexible workspace that stimulates and supports the Zooglers' challenging and innovative work.

Images: Peter Wurmli for Camenzind Evolution

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure