The four most powerful American technology companies, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, are expanding their footprints on this side of the Atlantic. But what exactly are “GAFA” tenants looking for when searching for office space?
Google needs plenty of space to innovate
Google has unveiled plans for its new London HQ, a ‘landscraper’ as long as The Shard is tall, to run parallel with King’s Cross station. Designed to accommodate over 7,000 employees, the building will include a range of amenities including cafés and meeting rooms, a 25-meter swimming pool, massage rooms, a sports area, and a 210-seat auditorium for product announcements and talks. Its roof will be covered in a 300-meter-long garden, divided into different zones, including a “pause area” filled with wildflowers and woodland plants, a cafe, and a 200-meter “trim trail” for runners.
Apple chooses unique sites for their tech enabled offices
Apple plans to significantly increase its foothold in Ireland, starting with their European Headquarters in Cork, and their recently confirmed plans for a €850 million data centre in Athenry, County Galway. Apple’s latest move into Ireland’s West Coast provides the ultimate vote of confidence in the country’s digital infrastructure, and its position as a European hub for business.
Apple will also be opening a new campus in London’s iconic Battersea Power Station in 2021. This move is, in its own way, revolutionary; it proves that symbols of history can be renovated to redefine high tech office spaces. With 1,400 staff across six floors in what was once the central boiler house, and with room for up to 3,000, the Battersea offices will be one of Apple's biggest outside of the US.
Facebook wants practical office features, without the corporate feel
Facebook, having outgrown its current UK offices near Warren Street Station, will soon be moving to a six floor development in Rathbone Square. In line with Mark Zuckerberg’s ethos, the design of the new HQ won’t be especially radical, but neither will it be particularly corporate. It’s expected to echo its New York counterpart which features an office library, free vending machines, a canteen with a pizza station, and even and in-house pastry chef.
Amazon likes to be inspired
Amazon recently opened the doors to its new headquarters on the border between Shoreditch, the original ‘creative capital’, and the City of London. The 15-storey ‘Principal Place’ in London will host 5,000 employees who will be immersed in the rich culture of Shoreditch, as the building will showcase a selection of art provided by local artists.
Amazon is also rumoured to open a North West regional HQ in Manchester, one of the UK’s most vibrant and successful innovation districts. The city has a strong identity as a leading creative hub, and with high profile tenants BBC and ITV based at MediaCity UK and global tech firms Oracle and Texas Instruments at Millyard, Amazon will not lack sources of inspiration.
As you’d expect from these tech giants, each of these developments offers state-of-the-art design features and a wealth of amenities and services aimed at making the workplace experience as enjoyable as possible for their very high-profile tenants. And from roof gardens to running tracks, pizza stations to stand-up desks, office buildings across the UK and Ireland are set for some very exciting developments in the coming years as businesses inevitably follow in the footsteps of these captains of industry.
Fundamentally though, in addition to the quality of life, transport links, and physical infrastructure they offer, the success of each of these organisations, and the people that work for them, depends on connectivity. Indeed, Amazon recently specified this as a top priority in its request for proposals for a second headquarters in the US.
As WiredScore’s founder and CEO Arie Barendrecht points out, “The key thing to realise is almost every important thing we do at work, every application we use, relies on connectivity.”