Architecture critic compares Google's new HQ to a 'Truman Show-style nightmare of total surveillance'

Last week, Google released new renderings of the campus it plans to build in Mountain View, California. But not everyone is enamoured with the design.

Edwin Heathcote, an architecture critic at the Financial Times, published a scathing critique of the campus this week, saying that “the designs for Google’s huge new Mountain View HQ look oddly like a vision of the future from somewhere in the past.”

The campus was designed by star architects Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. The renderings show an incredibly futuristic construction made up of translucent canopies and modules that can be changed to adjust the buildings’ layout. The images also promise an adaptable environment with lots of light, bike paths, and even retail opportunities for local businesses.

Heathcote compares the architecture to various sci-fi cliches, like glass biodomes and alien settlements.

He then compares the Google HQ to the tech campus depicted in Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel “The Circle,” which Heathcote says is a “‘Truman Show’-style nightmare of total surveillance.”

Though Google says it plans to keep the campus relatively open to the public, Heathcote is sceptical.

“Google has the opportunity, the power and the money to build an entire city and anchor a new vision of urbanity — but instead it has retreated into a predictable, perhaps even slightly sinister vision of a private world enclosed under glass,” he says.

Still, some critics have praised the design — Clive Wilkinson, the architect behind the original Googleplex, told Fast Company that the new HQ “seems extremely community-oriented, extremely people-oriented. The idea of multiple places for enjoying nature and the outdoors being integrated, these moves are extremely positive.”

This is the first time Google will design and build offices from scratch. The plans have been submitted to the Mountain View City Council.

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