8 mad HQs from the world of technology
20th Jun 2013 | 10:00
Crazy places you wish you could work
In the world of tech, where you work is just as important as who you work for. Buoyed by bulging budgets and filled with design-led forward thinkers, these crazy tech HQs make for some of the best places to work across the globe.
Join us for a whistle-stop tour of some of the maddest, most awesome headquarters from around the world of technology.
The undisputed king of the crazy workplace has to be Google. But it's not just Google that's taken your average cubicle-fest and turned it on its head.
From Facebook to McLaren, Apple to Airbnb, having an awesome office helps tech companies attract the best and the brightest. And who wouldn't want to work in a buzzing environment that more resembles a high-end apartment than a boring office block.
1. Google, Victoria
Like the mighty Googleplex in Mountain View California, most of the search giant's offices have a touch of the wild about them. A great example is Google's bachelor pad-look-a-like London Victoria office, which features an indoor park complete with a rowing boat, a recording studio, pool tables, and write-anywhere whiteboard-walls.
Then for meeting spaces, your average conference rooms have been swapped out for a collection of sofas and deckchairs, making hashing out the specifics of the next Gmail redesign all the more innovative.
It was the brainchild of Henrique Penha, Android's lead designer, who designed the breakout rooms and office layout to make people sit, and therefore think, differently.
2. Google, St Giles
Masterminded by Renzo Piano, Google's newest London office doesn't break with tradition either. Situated just off London's Tottenham Court Road, in Central St Giles, it's filled with Star Trek-inspired tables, airlock-style doors, yet more comfy-looking sofas, and cubbyhole-meeting rooms galore.
If that wasn't enough, it's also got a roof terrace with one hell of a view over central London, for when the Sun's out, or the 'nine to five' turns into after-work drinks.
3. Skype, London
The new trend for swanky offices isn't lost on Microsoft either. One of its newest offices, Skype's new EU headquarters in London, is also filled with fancy furnishings, amazing spiral staircases, indoor courtyards, and a couple of pool tables thrown in for good measure.
Of course, being Microsoft, there are still a few regular desks and Skype conference rooms dotted about the place, for when the sofas just don't cut it.
4. Apple Spaceship, Cupertino
While still in the initial stages of development, Apple's planned 'spaceship' campus in Cupertino California ranks highly in the mad tech HQ stakes. If artists' impressions of what the final building will look like are anything to go by, this thing will resemble the best of sci-fi spacecrafts.
The four-storey, completely circular building includes a massive open space in the middle, filled with fruit and olive trees. Once finished, it will be a Mecca for Apple engineers, shielded from the outside world by 12-metre-high walls of glass.
Covering over 64 acres, it'll house 14,000 staff and will attempt to be self-sustaining, generating all its own electricity. The plans show that cars will be funneled into underground roads, meaning the complex will look more like a nature reserve than an office block. The project, estimated to cost somewhere in the region of $4-5 billion, is expected to break ground this summer, with a completion date of 2016.
5. Facebook, Menlo Park
Facebook, having already out-grown two headquarters in California, moved into a large office complex previously owned and operated by Sun Microsystems in Menlo Park. But, of course, being the young tech company that it is, plain and boring wasn't an option. Facebook had Gensler, an architect and design firm, essentially recreate the buzzing, urban downtown location where Facebook first started.
Filled with food outlets for almost everything under the Sun, as well as coffee places to make sure all the Facebookers are properly caffeinated, the whole complex has been designed to allow co-workers to blend with one another from disparate parts of the company.
Vast open-plan offices mix with small breakaway rooms, where even Mark Zuckerberg himself sits at a regular office desk in the mix. Speaking of the desks, they're all height adjustable, while treadmill-equipped versions are also available for those who like to stroll while they type. Adding to the false-urban environment, the walls are covered with unique graffiti and art specifically created for Facebook, so that no two spaces look alike.
6. Nvidia, Santa Clara
Spaceships for office buildings seem all the rage these days, as even Nvidia's taking that alien look one stage further. Its new planned headquarters is another Gensler-special located in the heart of Santa Clara, California. The theme behind the new creation is definitely triangles. Formed from two enormous triangular buildings covering over 11 acres just across the road from Nvidia Building A, the roof of each building is then made up of further, undulating triangles with a central glass triangular top.
The idea is that this mad complex of interlocking triangles represents the rasterisation of computer graphics, creating a physical interpretation of what the company's graphics cards do in the virtual world. The result is a crazy, alien-looking pair of buildings that should be completed in July 2015, breaking ground this summer.
7. McLaren Technology Centre, Woking
Known for its incredible supercars and Formula 1 team, McLaren's technology centre pretty much started the craze for custom-designed, bespoke buildings for high-tech workers. Following on from McLaren's laser-focussed drive for perfection, the high-design, immaculate McLaren Technology Centre is the epitome of precision engineering.
Designed by Norman Foster, open-plan offices are built directly on top of the manufacturing and development facilities, meaning ideas can be rapidly fired down to the people who actually make the awesome technology. From desk jockeys to design studios, McLaren's Woking HQ is simply beautiful.
8. Airbnb, San Francisco
A newcomer to the world of wild office design, Airbnb has taken its customers' rental places and recreated them inside its own office. The result is a weird mix that rivals Google for sheer randomness. For instance, smack-bang in the middle of a set of desks is a wooden hut that looks like it should be on a beach somewhere.
Also on offer is a breakout meeting room done up to look like an artist's pad straight out of Berlin, matching a real place down to the correct curtains. If that wasn't enough there's even a New York apartment room with walls covered in art and a comfy-looking armchair to sit in while you muse over the latest quarterly earnings.
The result of all these imported spaces is an eclectic mix of modern, highly-stylised office desks and cubicles slammed into real-world locations, mirrored down to the level of matching carpets. Interesting, to say the least.