Image of Google's Bay View campus reflecting in a lake
BIG and Heatherwick complete Google campus topped with "dragonscale" roofs

BIG and Heatherwick complete Google campus topped with "dragonscale" roofs

Search engine company Google has opened its BIG and Heatherwick Studio-designed Bay View campus in California's Silicon Valley, which features sweeping, scale-like panels across its roof.

Located in the city of Mountain View, California, the Bay View campus contains two office buildings for Google alongside an events centre and 240 short-term employee accommodation units.

Aerial image of the Bay View campus
Bay View was designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio

The 1.1-million-square-feet campus designed by London-based Heatherwick Studio  and Danish studio BIG contains three structures with loosely domed profiles that taper towards ground level.

Each structure is covered in a tent-like roof made up of a system of inward curving panels which were fitted with a combined total of 50,000 silver solar panels that can generate almost 7 megawatts of energy.

Image of the roof scale-like at Bay View campus
The campus is comprised of three buildings

The upper levels of the campus' two office buildings were designed with a flexible floor under the tent-like canopy supported on slim white columns.

Gathering and social spaces were placed below these large, open plan spaces.

Image of people running past the tapered roof line at Bay View campus
Its roof is covered in a solar skin

Various cubicles and partitions were used to zone Google's different work areas.

Roofed volumes were placed beside planter partitions while curtains and transparent walls similarly follow a gridded layout to create a "neighbourhood" feel.

"The second floor design has variation in floorplates to give teams a designated 'neighborhood' area that is highly flexible to change with their needs," said Google.

"The idea of the 'office' has been stuck for a long time," added Heatherwick Studio founder Thomas Heatherwick, "Yes, people have done different aesthetic treatments. But there hasn't been a fundamental questioning of the workplace at this scale."

"Our approach has centred on the emotions of individuals and the imaginations of teams and how you create a whole different atmosphere of work."

Office space at Google Bay View campus
The office buildings have open-plan upper floors

Each of the campus' inward curving roof and ceiling panels were connected by clerestory windows that bring light into the interior.

Automated window shades monitor light throughout the day and open and close when necessary.

As a result of Bay View's solar panel skin and nearby wind farms, Google explained that the building will be powered by carbon-free energy 90 per cent of the time. Its solar skin will generate around 40 per cent of its energy needs.

"To help deliver on its commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, the first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin, as well as nearby wind farms, will power Bay View on carbon-free energy 90 per cent of the time," Google said.

Image of the upper floor work area at the Bay View campus
The work area was designed to reflect a neighbourhood

According to Google, the campus is expected to meet a LEED-NC v4 Platinum certification while also becoming the biggest facility to achieve the International Living Future Institute LBC Water Petal Certification – a certification that recognises waste- and storm-water reuse.

The structures are surrounded by 17.3 acres of natural landscapes including wetlands, woodlands, and marshlands which form part of a Google initiative to restore natural habitats in California's wider Bay Area.

Google's Bay View Campus
The roof will provide 40 per cent of the offices' energy

"The result is a campus where the striking dragonscale solar canopies harvest every photon that hits the buildings; the energy piles store and extract heating and cooling from the ground, and even the naturally beautiful floras are in fact hardworking rootzone gardens that filter and clean the water from the buildings," said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

BIG and Heatherwick Studio are two of the world's most in demand architecture studios. They are also collaborating to build Google's London campus at King's Cross, which is set to feature a rooftop garden, running track and swimming pool.

Heatherwick Studio has recently completed a shopping centre in Shanghai covered in 1,000 Trees and is designing a volcano-like performing arts centre in Hainan.

BIG is currently designing a "flood-proof" floating city and the world's "largest neighbourhood" of 3D-printed homes.

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

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Google's Bay View Campus
Google's Bay View Campus
Google's Bay View Campus
Google's Bay View Campus