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See what Google is planning for its spectacular new campus

Shimmering glass cocoons? Translucent circus tents? Blast from the past? However you describe Google's (GOOG) proposed new campus, the architecture is anything but dull, and sure to draw a range of critical reactions.

Google on Friday released renderings and other details of the multi-building compound, which would redevelop four sites at its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Thomas Heatherwick, one of the two architects leading the project, along with Bjarne Ingels, describes the architectural concept behind the building as taking pieces of "glass fabric and draping it across some tent poles."

A rendering showing the entry lobby of one of the buildings Google is planning on its new campus. Google

Renderings of the site show undulating canopies of see-through material set amid what Google calls restored "natural habitats," including wetlands and a landscaped park.

Google envisions buildings that are as modular as software (or a modular smartphone). David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate at Google, says in blog post that the design ditches concrete buildings in favor of "lightweight block-like structures" that can be easily moved according to the differing needs of the company's research teams. The canopies that enclose the sites will be climate-controlled, yet remain open to light and air.

"Instead of having buildings as these... boxes with walls and floors, dissolve the building into a simple, super-transparent, ultra-light membrane," Ingels said of the thinking behind the structures in a video released by Google.

"With trees, landscaping, cafes and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature," Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe notes that the company is committed to "doing everything we can" to save energy. Google highlights the broad environmental goals behind the design, from widening creek beds on the property to making life cozier for owls.

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