How Google and Facebook will create techno powerhouse at Kings Cross

Leading world brands will make area a centre of innovation

Two of the world’s top four most valuable brands* are scheduled to establish their headquarters in the Kings Cross area in the 2020s.

Google (ranked 2) and Facebook (4) are in the process of adding another chapter in the remarkable turnaround of the area close to the rail station that links to the north-east of England and eastern Scotland.

Forty years ago, Kings Cross was a down-at-heel district known as an unwanted haven for drug takers and prostitutes. Now it is on track to be a centre for creative thought and innovation.

It is difficult to imagine a more marked transformation in the capital apart, perhaps, from that seen in Docklands.

There will be shops at street level of the Google building

Construction has already started on the Google HQ which sounds as if it will be an amazing place to work. The building will have shop outlets on the ground floor and the roof will made into three split-level garden areas where staff can relax and recharge their batteries.

Those Googlers with energy to burn will have an on-site “wellness centre” available. The centre will include a swimming pool, gyms, an indoor sports pitch suitable for several sports and a massage area.

The company is describing the 11-storey purpose-built headquarters as a “landscraper” given that its width is longer than The Shard is high. It will offer more than a million square feet of space.

Google employees will be able to get food in four cafes, including a main one which spans three storeys.

Combined with the company’s current King’s Cross office around the corner, and a third building that it also plans to move into, a new campus housing 7,000 Google employees will be formed.

Joe Borrett, Google director of real estate and construction, said: “We are excited to be able to bring our London Googlers together in one campus, with a new purpose-built building that we’ve developed from the ground up. Our offices and facilities play a key part in shaping the Google culture, which is one of the reasons we are known for being among the best places to work in the industry.”

Facebook will be building at Canal Reach overlooking the high-speed track

Nearby Facebook is in the process of putting together a campus of its own at Canal Reach with two buildings totalling 600,000sq ft of new offices – double its current London space. This will give it 6,000 workstations but the number of jobs this will create is yet to be quantified.

In 2017, Facebook opened its newest London site at Rathbone Place and announced that it would create 800 new jobs. It also has offices in Brock Street.

Some of Facebook’s most significant global products have been developed in the UK.

Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise collaboration tool, is built and run out of London, connecting businesses around the world including Virgin Atlantic, Royal National Institute for the Blind and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland).

The company’s London virtual reality team is at the forefront of defining the social future of VR and building core software products, services and applications for Oculus.

London is also home to the engineering team responsible for the safety and security of the global Facebook community. At the end of 2107, Facebook also opened a dedicated space for start-ups called LDN_LAB within its Rathbone site, in a first for a Facebook office.

*According to ForbesApple (at 1) and Microsoft (3) complete the top four. Fifth is Amazon.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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