Google has announced a $1bn (£871m) deal to buy the London development Central Saint Giles, calling the move a show of confidence in the return to more office working.
The US tech firm currently rents space in the brightly coloured development designed by the architect Renzo Piano, which is located in the centre of the capital, near Oxford Street.
The building – with its distinctive red, green, orange and yellow facade – includes 408,000 sq ft (38,000 sq metres) of office space, as well as more than 100 residential apartments, and is home to restaurants and cafes on the ground floor.
After the purchase, Google will have space for 10,000 employees in the UK, a significant increase on the 6,400 staff it currently has in the country, 700 of whom joined the company over the past year. The company has offices in London and Manchester.
Google’s new London headquarters – a huge horizontal building known as “the landscraper” – is under construction next to the railway lines that run in and out of King’s Cross railway station. The glass building will stretch out by a total of 330 metres, longer than the 310-metre-tall Shard skyscraper.
The main structural works are expected to be finished this year, and once completed it will stand 11 storeys tall, boasting a 25-metre swimming pool, indoor basketball court and massage rooms as well as a roof garden.
Despite the rise of home working during the Covid pandemic, Google reaffirmed its commitment to the project in summer 2020.
Google is also promising a multimillion-pound refurbishment of its Central Saint Giles offices to create a post-pandemic workplace that has “parity” to its King’s Cross base. Desks will be more spaced out, and the redeveloped building will include additional meeting rooms and covered outdoor working areas.
The investment is also likely to be seen as a boost for Oxford Street, the capital’s busiest shopping street, which has seen a string of well-known retailers close their doors during the pandemic.
Ruth Porat, the chief financial officer of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, said the purchase of Central Saint Giles reflected the company’s “continued commitment to [the UK’s] growth and success”.
She added: “Our focus remains on creating flexible workspaces that foster innovation, creativity and inclusivity.”
Post-Covid, Google will operate a hybrid workplace model, with staff splitting their time between the office and another location, and spending on average three days a week at their desks. Staff are also allowed to request working entirely remotely, although this will not be possible for all roles.