EMEA Engineering Hub
Amazingly inspiring new work environment for Google
Google Switzerland GmbH
Floor Area: 12`000 m2
Completion: March 2008
- Strategic Project Management
- Construction Management
- Research & Brief Development
- Full Architectural Services
- Workplace Design
By being incredibly innovative, flexible and tailored for the particular needs and culture of the company and its employees, Google’s EMEA Engineering Hub in Zurich, Switzerland, is a great example of a modern workspace design, which cultivates an energized and inspiring work environment that is relaxed but focused, and buzzing with activities. At the time of completion in 2008, this office was one of the early examples of the future workplace design development.
The EMEA Engineering Hub is located within the ‘Hurlimann Areal’ within easy walking distance of Zurich city centre. The site was originally a local brewery that has been regenerated into a vibrant mixed-use development of apartments, shops, offices and a spa hotel. The Google building is a contemporary seven storey shell and core office block offering 12’000 m2 floor area for up to 800 staff.
Zooglers collaborate in design development
A key element in the design approach was that the Googlers in Zurich (fondly referred to as Zooglers) should participate in the design process to create their own local identity. Under the guidance of the Director of International Real Estate at Google in Mountain View, an interactive and transparent approach to the architectural process was implemented from the beginning. “A diverse team of local Zooglers were formed as the steering committee to represent the entire office. This committee reviewed, challenged and approved the design throughout the project. This unique method of engagement provided open collaboration, unique perspectives and ideas, and supplied a direct sense of ownership throughout the Zurich office,” explains architect Tanya Ruegg.
Diverse, yet harmonious work environment
The architects began with a rapid process of research and analysis to map out the opportunities and challenges posed by the building as well as the emotional and practical requirements of the Zooglers. The latter was achieved by conducting a survey of all the Zooglers, complemented by a series of workshops and interviews. This research, guided by a psychologist, extended beyond purely functional aspects, and provided information about the Zooglers personality types, representational systems, values and motivational factors. This process revealed that the optimal working environment for Zooglers needed to be diverse and at the same time harmonious whilst making it a fun and an enjoyable place to work in.
Communal areas over personal workspace
The Zooglers decided early on that they preferred to reduce their personal net area of workspace in order to gain more communal and meeting areas. The working areas were therefore designed with a high degree of space efficiency. Additionally, they had to be able to accommodate frequent staff rotation and growth. “The office areas are organised along a central core and are a mixture of open-plan workspaces for 6-10 people and enclosed offices for 4-6 people. All office enclosures are constructed using a glass partition system, which maintains transparency and optimises daylight while reducing noise and achieving the required degree of privacy for working teams,” tells Tanya Ruegg.
The completed Google building is a true reflection of a forward-thinking company that was prepared to adopt innovative approaches proposed by the architectural team to determine the optimal design concept to nurture the talent and creativity of their Zurich employees.