Legend says that there is a place, high above the dreams of mortal men, situated between Nirvana and Utopia, where lush tropical gardens interweave with pristine pathways and vibrant communities of superhumans....no it's not the Hanging Gardens of Babylon - it's plans for the new Google HQ being built in Kings Cross, London within the next few years.
Google boss Larry Page reportedly tore up original plans because he felt they were too dull - in the linked article, we can see why that is a bit like Noah tearing up the original plans for the Ark because it was too small.
Why is this proposal so special? First of all it will be the first dedicated, Google owned "campus" outside of the US. Second, it will be a unique type of building called a 'groundscraper' because of its immense size and sprawling mass. Thirdly, and most importantly, it isn't just a building; it's a philosophy. It will be the embodiment of the Google ethos.
Let's look at what that actually means: Google believes in holistic excellence in the workplace. Every element of the employee experience at Google is geared towards a fantastic experience. Not just in their work, but in their play, during their (rare) lunch breaks where all the food is free, after work socials, and in rest and recreation. The new Googleplex is, deliberately, a place where employees might never want to leave.
The reason they do this is excellence. Imagine an environment where everyone is happy. It's no secret that some of the most brilliant minds in the world work at Google. So imagine working alongside those people. Imagine regular talks and workshops with some of the world's leading thinkers. Picture yourself working in an organisation that encourages lateral 'out of the box' thinking, nurtures creativity, and supports the idea that work is fun, and innovation is everything. Where the usual, restrictive rules of '9 till 5' don't apply and progressive theories such as 'deep work' and pomodoro technique are applied instead. Envision a structure which pushes the boundaries of every architectural norm of the last century, literally placing a garden of paradise on the roof. Inside that structure are great spaces dedicated to health, fitness, relaxation, thinking, idea generation and empowerment. Everything is chrome, glass, brightly coloured acrylic, pristine ceramic, carbon-fibre, or simply...alive. It's more akin to a museum, or a work of art. With a national park thrown in for good stead.
Ask yourself, what kind of person flourishes in that kind of space, with that kind of thinking? The answer: a superhuman. A person nourished with the thought processes of collective brilliance, fed by an environment designed to stimulate every possible intellectual need. This person is able to think and act beyond the norms of most human beings. They call this person: the Googler.
Now tell me you wouldn't want to visit that space? You wouldn't want to know and understand the careful and refined thinking that has gone into every element of that environment? A personal tour by the most progressive minds on earth. Of course, your interpretation device would be supplied by Google, so expect state-of-the-art binaural sound, location triggering, AR, VR, and all the latest trends you'd expect from a company that excels in integrateding digital with the world around you - including a project for 3D indoor location mapping (Google Tango) and pioneering low-entry VR glasses (Google Cardboard).
You may be able to picture that kind of a tour. Now picture Larry Page tearing up those plans because they're too dull ... what literally, on heaven and earth, in Nirvana and Utopia, would be the final product?
Now that would be the multimedia tour to end all multimedia tours.
“By opening up the ground floor and activating the roofscape, the light and airy workspaces are sandwiched between the terraced gardens on the roof – and market halls, auditoria and shops on the ground.”