Global internet group Google has had a branch in Zurich (ZH) since 2004. Its workforce, which is focused on engineering, has grown steadily ever since. The expansion largely revolves round the Europaallee development zone, a new, mixed-use neighbourhood near Zurich’s main rail terminal. Over a period of four years, the company aims to increase the area covered by its premises to a total of 60,000 m2.
The first stage consists of four floors of the Sihlpost building. This 1930 edifice, at the entrance to Europaallee, was sensitively renovated for its new function and for tenants comprising a variety of companies. The renovation was awarded the «LEED Gold Standard» label. One feature of the 123-metre-long building is its reinforced concrete, girder-less construction, which was planned by world-
renowned engineer Robert Maillart.
The building covers a total floor space of 9,000 m2, shared between Google and two partners, with the Internet group occupying 5,000 m2. For Google, office space for 300 workstations and 26 meeting rooms as well as a restaurant, three micro kitchens, break rooms for informal meetings and a conference room for about 100 people were integrated into the existing structure. The architectural concept creates themed worlds reminiscent of the building’s previous purpose: post office hall and dispatch area. In the post office hall areas, high-quality wooden partitions were fitted with ribbed glass inserts and brass fittings. The meeting rooms are in dispatch boxes made of maritime pine. They divide the floor areas into quiet workspaces with a long access corridor. A relaxation zone stretches under the flat sloping gable roof, which has a clearly visible load-bearing structure. It resembles a large apartment with bookshelves, lounge areas and sofa corners.
The offices are characterised by the diversity of their materials and colours, which gives an
individual touch. The basic structure of the building is marked by white-washed walls and anthracite window frames, doors and radiators. The rubber-nub tiles, fitted carpets and parquet used as flooring divide up the various areas. Natural surfaces, screens lined with needle felt, ceramic tiles and curtained glass partitions further enhance the diversity. Ducts that run openly along the ceiling
reinforce the impression of a place where a desire to improvise is important. Graphics, large lettering and subtle signage help people find their way. The informal, often apparently playful character of the tenant improvements is reinforced by a wide selection of tables and seating, some of which can be rearranged. Nothing in this relaxed atmosphere shows that the office has a complex building system.