While his Silicon Valley office scheme for Google, designed in concert with hotshot Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, awaits next steps now that the proposed site was awarded to another company, Thomas Heatherwick was reportedly just given another opportunity to work for the tech titan. Reports have surfaced suggesting that he was asked to draft a new concept for the company's forthcoming London headquarters in King's Cross. Google CEO Larry Page branded a previous proposal by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris "boring," despite reports that at one point, the scheme included docks for airships. A zeppelin port may not be a requisite for today's modern office, but Heatherwick will have to find others ways to exceed expectations and deliver the unexpected. To help inspire the new office space, here are a few off-the-wall, tech-savvy and otherwise unorthodox schemes that will make Google's English workforce feel like they have a cool office.
Hydroponic Garden/Hip Coworking Space
If Heatherwick wants to be trendy, he could do a lot worse than replicating Second Home, a buzzed-about new London co-working space, on a massive scale. Started by tech entrepreneurs Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton as an upgrade for startups who have grown out of incubators and shared spaces, it's a curvy, colorful spin on the anti-corporate office, designed by SelgasCano, the Spanish team doing this year's Serpentine Pavilion. Their 25,000-square-foot design features a greenhouse worth of hydroponic plants and a café the flows into workspaces, all the better to provide connections and the kind of planned serendipity that's supposed to feed the idea economy.
3D Printed Office Partitions on Demand
If you've ever craved privacy within an open office environment, consider this concept your 3D printed salvation. The winner of the Workplace of the Future competition, this theoretical layout would utilize an industrial-sized 3D printer and a roll of soundproof, lightweight paper to immediately print partitions, room dividers, and even private space as the company scales and grows. This concept maintains the flexibility of the Googleplex plan, but brings it to a more micro level; one could even print meeting notes on the wall (or, heaven forbid, motivational posters for the break room).
A Conference Table Fit for Dr. Evil
While Google's oft-repeated corporate motto, "Don't be evil," suggests the Dr. Stangelove conference room found in Airbnb's new office might be unwelcome, the Edward Snowden in all of us believes all that data collection has to be part of some nefarious plot. If Google is looking for something big, bold and powerful, a conference table fit for the nuclear football certainly projects the right image. Give Google a reason to flex their muscles.
Fully Operational Metal Shop and Tech Lab
While Google's core search business continues to be the company's main profit center, increasingly, other interests from virtual reality to self-driving cars—don't mention the glasses—have gotten more and more attention. To continue to broaden the company's reach, as well as employees skill sets, Google should replicate the kind of perks found in the new Autodesk office off Pier 9 in San Francisco. With a fully operational metal shop and 3D printing center available to all, employees have already built a bike entirely on-site.
Sand-Filled Geodesic Surf Dome
Finally, Heatherwick could just give in to idea of employee perks, and the concept of creating a workspace nobody wants to leave, and try and replicate the "laptop in the sand" approach of The Surf Office. Sure, it's going to be a challenge replicating a beach environment in London, but hey, this is the guy whose planning to build a garden bridge across the Thames. Surely a wave machine, sand and geodesic dome aren't out of the question.
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