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Future Tech: 

Inside Apple’s new $5bn spaceship HQ

apple campus

Ready for lift-off? Apple’s ‘spaceship’ HQ to be ready by 2016

Welcome to Campus 2.

It may look like a giant donut or a glorified car tyre from above, but Apple’s new headquarters is a $5bn investment that’s set to look every bit as iconic as its products. This is the HQ that Steve Jobs said could be “the best office building in the world,” and now – after years of plotting, planning and approving – the foundations are finally in place at Cupertino, California.

With construction set to be complete by 2016, Apple’s spaceship-like complex is entering its crucial final phase. The images you can see are artist renderings of a site that’s set to house 13,000 employees, but the real business of bricks, mortar and glass – lots and lots of glass – is still being prepared. The team responsible are British architects Foster + Partners, responsible for the likes of London’s Wembley Stadium, Millennium Bridge and the Hearst Tower in New York.

What’s the big deal?

The construction of Campus 2 is a major move for Apple, understandably concerning the company’s shareholders when it leaped from a $3bn project to one almost double that cost.

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To put that incomprehensible figure into perspective, it’ll pay for a typically high-tech HQ on the 176-acre site, covering an area of 2.8 million square-feet. That didn’t really put anything into perspective, did it? Well, the most expensive office building currently is Taiwan’s Taipei 101, costing the equivalent of $1.76bn.

It’s worth factoring in the 6km of glass that will form the building’s enormous transparent walls, and facilities that include restaurants, cafes, a 1,000 seat underground auditorium and a wellness centre that caters to Apple’s 20,000 strong community in Silicon Valley. That’s not counting the miles of jogging and cycling trails that surround the perimeter and the vast green park space in the eye of the giant ‘O’.

Parking won’t be a problem either. There should be plenty of space in the 300,000 square foot car park that’s hidden away below the landscape – because why ruin the view? Just don’t forget where you parked or you may never leave.

Okay, it still seems very expensive.

A good proportion of the cost comes down to the green credentials of Campus 2. Apple is aiming for the building to be 100% self-sufficient, with the majority of power generated by an on-site low carbon Central Plant, supplemented by solar power. The campus will also be comprised of 80 per cent green space, and because of the natural ventilation of the main building it will go without air conditioning for 75 per cent of the year.

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Running alongside the outside of the campus will be 7,000 trees. Apple being Apple, these won’t be just any old trees – instead they’ve hired a leading arborist from Stanford University to landscape the area and restore some of the indigenous plant life, including apricot orchards.

Just like Apple’s products, every inch of Campus 2 has been meticulously well designed. As one of Steve Jobs’ last big projects before his untimely death, there will be no room for complacency or straying from his vision – with every floor and ceiling polished and perfected. This can verge on the ridiculous, as Business Week notes that “all interior wood is to be harvested from a specific species of maple, and only finer quality ‘heartwood’ at the centre of the trees is to be used.”

Fussy? Perhaps. But it’s exactly this kind of stubborn and singular vision which brought us lifestyle staples from iPhone to iPad. Unlike those products Campus 2 isn’t made for us, but for Apple’s employees it may be the company’s greatest design yet.

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