As the second largest engineering office in Europe (after Google Zurich), Google’s UK office in London is a busy mix of technical Googlers, direct advertising sales and a variety of other essential business and administrative functions.
Google Search is now the most-used search engine on the World Wide Web, receiving several hundred million queries each day through its various services. Developed in 1997 by Larry Page and Sergery Brin, Google Search provides over twenty-two special features beyond the word-search capability. These include maps, film show times, time zones, weather forecasts and synonyms.
As a result, the direct advertising sales teams offer support across a range of industries including: media and entertainment, retail, finance, healthcare, business and industrial, technology and consumer products. Other areas include human resources, finance, legal, marketing and communications, business development and infrastructure engineering.
Google engineers are dedicated to developing a range of products including next-generation mobile applications, information-retrieval algorithms, systems software and innovative search products. One of their focuses is Adsense, which is an integral part of the Google advertising infrastructure as it is enables publishers to earn revenue by displaying relevant ads on their site. In addition, Google aims to match advertisers to operators and programmes, in order to deliver more relevant ads to viewers and provide more accurate and timely reporting on TV viewership. This will in turn enable Google to create automated online services that will improve the efficiency of the marketplace.
Duncan Taylor, Cameron Black, explained:
“We’ve been involved with Google for a number of years now and this is by far the most exciting project that we have undertaken for them to date.
“The space was fully fitted out so we stripped it back to open plan, reconfigured all of the services to match the new layout and installed the new partitions and ceilings. Following this, we installed the flight pods, VC booths, meeting rooms, state-of-the-art Tech Talk, flooring and signage.
“Regarded as one of the funkiest workspaces in London, this is one of the most high profile projects that our company has been involved with. Although we were faced with the normal pressures of high specification, fast-paced fit out, for Cameron Black it has been one of the most enjoyable projects that we have had the opportunity to work on. This was largely due to the team effort from everyone involved, including the client, architect and consultants.”
Architects for the project, PENSON Group, produced a unique design that incorporates high-tech features and the creative flair that has made Google so successful. The space works around the Googlers and not the other way around.
Along with a range of collaboration and working spaces, the development comprises an exciting mixture of spaces, gaming rooms, music studios and flight pods. In addition, there are lounges and kitchens, along with a park, coffee lab and an amazing auditorium labelled ‘Tech Talk’.
One of the most exciting features is the installation of flight pods, which PENSON Group invented especially for Google. These pods look amazing and solve a number of programme, landlord and technical problems by allowing for supersonic fit out speeds. They also appease acoustic issues and provide semi-private seating opportunities, providing an exciting alternative to meeting rooms.
Corridors are nonexistent due to the shrewd maximisation of the existing footprint. In order to stop the areas from becoming blocked off, large isles of walkways feature interconnecting lines that create a joined-up approach, in the process breaking up the floors whilst keeping the space open.
Most of the walls across the space are magnetic white board laminated and allow scribbles across the entire floor. In addition, all of the desks are fully height adjustable and screens are framed with self-illuminating Perspex.
Another interesting feature is The Coffee Lab, which is made from compressed sheets of spent fresh coffee shavings and overlooks the internal park. Also included in the space is the Android studio, which is responsible for all Android developments. The space has electrically adjustable studio tables for working whilst standing or collaborating at low level, whilst magnetic walls feature throughout in order to allow for the pin-up presentations of software or new patents currently under development.
Other schemes that have been considered include acoustics, day-lighting, zoning and socialising.
Lee Penson, PENSON Group, said:
“This was a high profile, high class and quirky interior fit out and design to a budget within normal high class perimeters.
“This project for Google underlines our position within the media and office sectors, not only exposing our supersonic design flair, but also our delivery capabilities. Handing over 300,000 sq ft for Google in less than a year from start to finish to this level is no mean feat and as the remainder of the Google programme is released, the underline will simply get thicker. This is a good looking, functional, commercially and forward thinking project.”
Henrique Penha, Google, added: “Working with the team at PENSON was a pleasure; they truly understood the functional and aesthetic attributes we were after when redesigning Google’s new engineering offices in London. Together, we pushed the ambition of the project into every phase, giving the Engineering teams in London a place to incubate and execute on numerous Google projects and products.”
In addition, Scott Brownrigg Interior Design has now completed two floors at 123 Buckingham Palace Road, in the process creating a combined 77,500 sq ft of innovative, inspiring office space for over 60 Google staff.
Phase One of the project comprised the creation of a dynamic and collaborative work environment on Level Three. Like many other Google offices worldwide, the office has a strong local theme. Joe Borrett and Jane Preston from Google, working with the Scott Brownrigg Interior Design Team, chose a theme of London-Brighton.
Many iconic elements are incorporated into the office design. For example, the meeting rooms are brightly coloured timber beach huts and giant colourful dice accommodate individual conference booths. In addition, original dodgem cars and traditional red telephone booths are all work spaces that are available to both staff and visitors.
Open plan workstations for all staff are mixed with a few offices, meeting rooms, open break out seating areas and support spaces for printing and IT technical support. In order to accommodate for the health and welfare of Google staff, the development also includes a fully fitted gym and shower facility, massage and spa treatment centre, and an Asian Fusion/Sushi restaurant that is free for all staff.
Ken Giannini, Interior Design Director of Scott Brownrigg, said: “It is little wonder that Google is one of the most desirable places to work in the UK. We have enjoyed every minute of this exciting project. All of the Google staff are up for innovation, brilliant ideas and they like to be challenged. We also recognise that Google is a serious business and demands efficiency, value and solutions that can support their business practices. This project has it all – a fun working environment that also incorporates lots of practical solutions.”
Joe Borrett, Head of Real Estate and Construction for Google, added: “The office was designed and delivered in a very fast timescale (four months) and the team of consultants and the contractor pulled out all the stops to get it done. It was an impressive effort.”
Jane Preston, UK Facilities Manager at Google, said: “The first impressions by visitors and our staff has been very positive. The project fits well with our real estate and HR strategy and will definitely help support our growth plans. We see the work environment as a major recruitment factor for us to compete for the best talent and this new office certainly does that.”
Phase Two of the project continued with the London-Brighton theme, but aimed to offer a more sophisticated design twist.
The development contains both open plan and cellular spaces, along with significant support and welfare space for over 300 staff. A variety of work settings have been created, including a 70-person events space, a mixture of meeting rooms to accommodate 12-16 people, individual video conferencing booths and various huddle areas.
Upon entering Level One, visitors are greeted by a 3D Union Jack wall, which on closer inspection is composed of layers of postcards and overlapping transparencies. The adjacent entrance houses 120 scooter mirrors, which splay out from a central scooter parked on Brighton beach and catch the reflections of people passing by.
Punch and Judy themed meeting rooms have been stripped of their classic design to create a modern offering of glazed interlayer panels and graphics. In addition, the graphic of a swarm of starlings has been used on the office glazing throughout. All of these elements create a dynamic sense of movement, making the space a more interesting place to work.
The Pavilion Cafe is adjacent to the main entrance and is a nod to the Mods and Rockers era, albeit with a decidedly modern attitude. The light enters via two black glass clad portals and reflects against the dark, shiny surfaces. Interestingly, reclaimed flooring has been used under the seating area. Lightly sanded, the flooring gives the space a truly authentic look and a feel that is similar to walking on Brighton Pier.
Level One has also incorporated a fully operational kitchen, two micro-kitchens and a supporting cafe to seat 120 people. In addition, a Yoga/Pilates studio is available and has the ability to separate into two individual rooms for maximum flexibility.
The ‘Creative Lab’ department worked closely with Scott Brownrigg Interior Design to inform their unique space. In order to create a college reel, raw concrete wallpaper has been used and wrapped around the core and a large bespoke collaborative desk with edge lit acrylic has been installed.
Sarah Simmonds, Senior Designer from Scott Brownrigg, said: “The design has evolved from Level Three in the sense that we wanted to create a dynamic environment, but in a less obvious way. We made a conscious decision to not use the brand colours, but similar to Google, who are a layered organisation, look closely and you will discover more than what is on the surface.”
Scott Brownrigg Interior Design
Scott Brownrigg has consistently been rated in the top 20 of the UK’s top 100 architectural practices, offering integrated architectural, planning and interior design services across a wide range of public and private sectors including education, transportation, business space, defence, regeneration, hospitality and leisure, residential and industrial.
James Johnson & Company Ltd
James Johnson & Co. was established in 1991 and has achieved recognition as one of the leading specialists in bespoke joinery. The company provides blue chip clients, architects and interior designers with products of exceptional quality and reliability.
For the Google Office project, James Johnson & Company Ltd manufactured and installed meeting rooms, feature A/V walls, desks & ceilings, flight pods, magnetic writing walls, coffee lab, micro kitchen, games room and back-lit circulation node paneled lobbies.
Company Managing Director, Mike Craven, said: “At James Johnson & Company Ltd, we are experienced in dealing with fast-track fit-outs and we offer a quality of service that is second to none.”
Russell Property Services
Established in 1986, Russell Property Services is a specialist in the commissioning and validation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This includes implementing water flow, heating and ventilation systems.
The company is experienced in working on projects including large commercial buildings and developments for pharmaceutical companies in the south east of England. Previous projects include a number of high-profile developments, such as London’s landmark skyscraper the ‘Gherkin’.
For the Google Office project, Russell Property Services provided validations prior to the fit-out and undertook commissioning management once the project was completed. This involved providing reports and a full set of drawings for everything that was installed.
Russell Property Services Managing Director, Stewart Russell, said: “At Russell Property Services we always aim to complete a job on time at a very reasonable rate.
“We are always proud of the high level of customer satisfaction that we provide and have years of experience in undertaking large-scale jobs.”
Pristine London specialises in soft strip, strip-outs, clearance and demolition work. All operatives are trained to a high standard and are adept at working in buildings with live services.
For the Google Office project, Pristine London stripped out the existing office in preparation for the new fit-out. This involved working in a live building around existing services and overcoming the difficulties encountered when the goods lift stopped working. During this situation, Pristine London worked closely with Cameron Black and the building management team in order to revise the schedule and deploy additional teams to help with the clearance of waste. These amendments ensured that the programme remained unaffected.
Pristine London prides itself on its ability to meet tight deadlines in a controlled, safe and environmentally friendly manner and always leaves a site in pristine condition. The company consistently exceeds their clients’ recycling targets and is in the process of becoming carbon neutral across all of their UK operations.
Castleton Signs Ltd
Castleton Signs are one of the longest established signage companies in the UK. They offer a full consultancy, design and manufacturing capability. This includes site surveys and wayfinding audits, planning permission and specifications, installation and maintenance.
Castleton develop and produce all types of signs, whether for commercial, functional or purely decorative purposes, with a focus on custom made solutions.
On the Google Office project, Castleton Signs supplied all architectural manifestations and signage. This involved consulting closely with main contractor Cameron Black and designers Pensen Group at every operational stage.
Castleton Signs Ltd Managing Director, Robert Winterborn, said:
“Our team of designers, project managers and installers bring a wealth of specialist knowledge, experience and technical expertise to every signage project we undertake. The Google project involved wonderfully innovative design concepts which we translated into effective signage solutions. The end result speaks for itself.”
Tremlett & Turner Ltd
Bristol based company Tremlett & Turner Ltd is a shop-fitting contractor that specialises in joinery work for shops and offices around the UK. For the Google Office project, the company constructed internal meeting rooms, display cabinets and desks.
Tremlett & Turner Ltd Director, Mike Tremlett, said: “Over the past 18 years, Tremlett & Turner Ltd has established itself as a leading contractor that offers competitively priced high quality office and shop fit-outs. We have worked with Cameron Black for ten years and so it is great to work with them once again on a high-end project like this.”
PENSON Group focuses on providing talented architecture, interior design, structural, civil and mechanical & electrical engineering consultancy services, specialising in all sectors of buildings and uses
The company is unique because their chartered architects, designers and engineers collaborate to simplify communication whilst improving coordination and efficiency. PENSON Group works hard to create award-winning solutions whilst paying close attention to every project’s commercial and deliverable needs.
Their quietly competent approach means that they receive repeat business for large and small organisations in both public and private sectors.
PENSON Group is currently undertaking a £1.2 billion project in Australia, where they are creating a new media and leisure village.