When Facebook decided to open its headquarters in Hyderabad — the social network giant’s first corporate office in India — it was clear that it would bring with it a distinct work culture in the country. The aim was to build a workspace that would resonate with local employees, while retaining the company’s identity. And Bengaluru’s KGD Architecture was entrusted in realising this vision and designing a HQ that would be worthy of this multimillion dollar company. The firm was commissioned this project after an extensive filtration process, which saw 11 firms competing over four rounds.
The design brief was straight forward. Firstly, since no job is small or big at Facebook, this aspect needed to shine through in the design scheme. Then, given that the office would mark the company’s entry into the country, the need was to represent Indian culture and bring in a local flavour, while staying clear from typical office ambiences. Additionally, the brief emphasised the need for a workspace where employees can gather, socialise and collaborate. The work environment had to go beyond desks and find different avenues where ideas can be born and bred. ‘Open culture’ was the goal and KGD had to find a local-inspired design narrative for it.
KGD Architecture’s managing director Nejeeb Khan and his team came up with the concept of ‘The city of Facebook’. “Developing the concept on the lines of a social community, the interiors were divided up into various neighbourhoods and revolved around creating a distinct character of Facebook’s own city.” explains Khan. The 12th floor space, spread across 65,956sqft, provided “immense opportunity to explore and endless possibilities in planning the new facility. Enormous north light exposure, 3.9m-high floor height and beam-less ceiling slab were advantages that helped in conceptualising the space.” With simple, straightforward planning, raw and unfinished aesthetics and familiar city-life imagery, the design cohesively unites the different functional requirements of the office.
The concept takes shape in the form of an ‘evolving city’. It is seen in the raw material finish of the beaten metal reception desk, polished concrete floor and the exposed brick wall. A network of streets then leads to the different work areas, collaboration hubs, hangout spaces, meeting rooms, etc. The office also houses a ‘green park’ with its living green wall, casual and home-style furniture, where employees can work privately or huddle in small groups. Similarly, the layout is interspersed with ‘informal lounges’ that also function as collaborative spots and can be easy identified by the suspended wooden rafter ceiling and warm ambience with plants and hanging pendant lamps.
The workstations are grouped in different configurations, each responding to diverse modes of working. Based on the functionality, some setups are kept linear, while some are grouped in 90-degree angles, and for some areas, special emphasis is given to acoustics and privacy.
Flanked by a brick wall on one side — to highlight the street character of the office — each space can be identified by a reclaimed street pole that serves as a wayfinder.
Since the office isn’t restricted to workstations and a city would be incomplete without a park, the design brings the outdoors inside by including Oasis Square in the plan.
An Indian street vibe is seen throughout the office. “The main street is marked with brick facades, ending with an old engraved traditional door — the Buland Darwaza — on one side and a live green wall on the other side,” shares Khan. “The cafeteria, which is named the Dhabba, is designed as an all-hands area and built as another building within the interiors with an industrial look and feel.” An autorickshaw is transformed into a seating nook, charpais act as flexible furniture that can be reorganised for a quick meeting session in case no meeting rooms are available. With a seven-star buffet offered to employees, this space is the heart of ‘the city of Facebook’ with a game zone-street side park developed on one side, adding to the overall character.
Creating a vibrant and unique landscape for the office was not the only highlight of this project. The interiors were also designed, keeping in mind LEED Platinum certification. “Great emphasis was laid on the MEP design, especially the HVAC systems, to ensure operational costs were more effective. It was further improvised by using censor-controlled lighting systems, among others,” explains Khan.
The end result is that the Facebook HQ imbibes the essential parameters of a modern office, global with a rich and dense programme but in a design scheme that is warm, inviting and familiar for its many employees and visitors.
Project: Facebook headquarters
Client: Facebook India
Project area: 65,956sqft