Apple is in the process of building a giant new “spaceship” HQ at its traditional location in Cupertino, California. But when it’s finally done, it may not be the most striking building in the company’s collection.
Earlier today, Apple announced that it will move into Battersea Power Station, a former coal-fired power station on the River Thames in London. It’s the opposite of a modern building — it’s a hulking monument to heavy industry that’s been sitting unused for decades. And it’s the perfect place for Apple to open an office.
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The company is leasing six floor in the main building, and hopes to end up with 1,400 staff located there. This isn’t some major transition to having staff in London, but rather moving workers from a bunch of spread-out offices into one central location.
Battersea Power Station has a long and quite weird history. It sits in the west of London, right on the banks of the river. Back when it was built, it was industrial dead space, but it’s now prime real estate very close to the center of London.
The all-brick building was built in the 1930s, designed by the same architect who designed London’s iconic red phone booths. At the time, it was the biggest brick building in Europe, and remains one of the largest in the world today.
Since electricity generation was stopped in the 1980s, it’s been sitting derelict, waiting for a new lease of life. Moving an Apple campus there actually makes a lot of sense. It has a long design heritage that should make Jony Ive proud, a great location, and high walls to help maintain Apple’s famous need for secrecy.