UPDATE: The SF Gate reports that the architects of the Google Barge have now been revealed to be San Francisco-based firm Gensler and New York-based LOT-EK, a firm with experience adapting shipping containers for retail design.
A mysterious construction project in the San Francisco Bay has been making waves for the past couple of weeks. Moored off Treasure Island, locals apparently refer to it as 'the secret project' - and, until now, that's about as much as was known about it.
Despite months of rumors and complete radio silence from Google, spokespeople have finally released a statement on the project, stating: "Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."
While it's a shame about the dinosaur, Google's expansion into technology retail is possibly even more intriguing, as it's entirely new turf for the company: retail design.
More info and an artist's rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break...
The structure rises approximately four stories, and sits on a barge near the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The showrooms themselves are assembled from a series of shipping containers, each outfitted in ultra-modern chrome finishes and floor lighting. The shipping containers can be dis- and reassembled at any time, stuck onto boats, trains, barges and brought right to you, allowing for multiple configurations and ensuring no one visit to the space will be quite like the last. Of course, the space itself isn't the only moveable element; the barge is expected to move and visit multiple locations.
Plans also indicate a top floor "party deck" as well as "sails" that will "provide shade and shelter to guests [...and] would be lowered in bad weather."
The high-end, high-luxury floating store is being read by many as a direct challenge to Apple, who's reigned over this niche market for years. Following a lackluster recent product release as well as a shift in retail management (former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts has just taken over), Apple's sure to be carefully tracking every word said about this new potential threat. And if Google does prove successful, who knows? We might be seeing a lot more innovation in retail design.
See more renderings at CNET