Over the past week, the city council of Mountain View, California, has approved the project for the new Google campus.
Approved the project for the new Google campus. The large building is more than 180,000 square meters, built by the Bjarke Ingels Group and Thomas Heatherwick, and should be ready by late 2019.
The project, known as Charleston East, has undergone many changes since it was officially presented in 2015. In particular, the Google campus project – essentially it is a series of buildings placed below a series of transparent shelters would be it had to be much smaller in terms of size and extension. Now the network of domes designed by Frei-Otto has been replaced by an opaque coated solar panel and in rendering the project would seem to be much darker than expected, but at least no longer a physical representation of the metaphorical bubble of Silicon Valley.
The architects, originally, had also proposed for the Google campus the assembly of prefabricated structures by means of a fleet of robotic cranes. Idea that seems to have fallen by the wayside.
What remains of the original project?A network of cycle paths and open spaces are still present and essential in the project. Google has also planned to plant at least 300 trees on the site to compensate for the 200 that will be cut. In addition, the company promises to make the campus accessible to non-Google employees, unlike the traditionally off-site locations of competitors like Apple. Yet it is difficult to ignore the design symbolism. The downsizing of the dimensions and the ambitions of the project are a suitable metaphor for today's Silicon Valley: a sector that once offered a brilliant vision of the future that is now more closely associated with a dystopian nightmare in which our own gadgets are at spying on us while a group of Machiavellian CEOs are engaged in dubious business practices and algorithms clash with democracy.