Google‘s new "super" headquarters in London by designers PENSON may be home to some Union Jack flag themes, but it also has some of the amazing amenities associated with the company, like balcony gardens and places for staff to grow their own veggies.
Located in the Central St. Giles Building in London's Covent Garden, the new 16,000 square foot space also includes such cutting-edge ideas for the workplace like a gym, dance studio (Twitter's new HQ has a yoga studio), a cafe and a large event hall the designers have dubbed "Town Hall," not to mention sweeping views of London.
Pension really delivered on Google's new digs. The designers call the design a London townhouse-hybrid because they have included classic features like woolly living rooms and rooftop gardens.
Pension has named different parts of the office things like Secret Gardens, Allotments, Google Green, Google Park and Grannies Flat, seeking to combine office seriousness with a bit of playfulness.
The new design wasn't massively expensive (at least as much as it could have been) due to a seemingly intelligent use of the existing space and materials. Just a shy of reaching LEED Platinum status, the space is full of reclaimed or recycled materials to great effect, in compliance with Google's famed "Red List" that focuses on removing toxic ingredients of materials. Timber flood boards make it smell fresh.
The Allotments (for staffers to grow food) on the 9th floor of the building are made of little timber tubs. Employees have to put their name on a waiting list to get their own, and if a lucky allotment-tender doesn't take proper care of their space, a wait-lister gets a chance at the plot. This way, while at work, the lucky gardeners get to spend some off-time working with herbs and veggies and work together in a non-work way. Seems fairly great.
Keeping with the theme, The Secret Gardens are private booths on a balcony (the designers say it's sun-trapped, but I'm less inclined to believe that) that create a fun outdoor workspace with real hedge walls. The idea of being able to work outside, weather permitting, sounds really ideal.
The Gardens connect to Google's cafe, and Google Park, which is a big garden. The cafe was designed with a retro-feel and has a view over the city. The Google Green looks out across this area, linking together the cafe, Gardens and the Town Hall, and features couches for Town Hall overflow or informal meetings.
The Town Hall seats 200, and is equipped with a velvet curtain and video wall, the Gym has showers, massage and change rooms, and even a totally necessary "bike-dry" for bicycle commuters to place their soggy bikes to dry during the work day and pick them up when they are ready to ride home.
The super HQ follows along the new trends in office buildings, especially for the more "progressive" tech companies like Apple, Google Facebook and Twitter. However, I'm all for fresh air and for trying to figure out how to make a workplace, and a job, more enjoyable for all involved.