Photo: Greg Gilbert,The Seattle Times
Spaces

Amazon introduces giant treehouse ‘spheres’ to relax employees

While many of us have desk plants, Amazon is building a entire forested office, a biosphere of three enormous domes filled with greenery, designed to help employees breathe better and feel unstressed at work.

Amazon’s new workspace—three glass and steel domes reportedly called “The Spheres” — will be home to a large amount of plants, and will open in 2018. The structure is not meant to be a full-time office space; about 800 employees at a time can work in the Spheres, which is like a forested conference space without walls or partitions.

The structure “got a ceremonial first planting of the 400-plus species of plants that will eventually reside inside” on Thursday, according to SFGate reported. There are roughly 40,000 plants destined to live in the domes, according to Wired.

“They are the result of innovative thinking about the character of the workplace and an extended conversation about what is typically missing from urban offices — a direct link to nature,” Amazon reportedly said in a statement.

The building’s focus on natural greenery is changing the way people think about the classic office space.

Suspension bridges for hallways and birds’ nests for meetings

CNBC reported that the domes will be part of Amazon’s headquarters, and that “they are meant to be a greenhouse-like setting for employees to chill.”

Bloomberg reported in 2016 that Amazon has labeled the structures “Biospheres,” workers will have the option to stroll along “suspension bridges” and work in “meeting spaces resembling bird nests perched in mature trees.”

Although SFGate recently reported that there won’t be any “enclosed offices or conference rooms,” and that two other high-rises have opened for “the growing new campus” in the Denny Triangle, the plant-filled spheres are getting the lion’s share of the attention for their futuristic planning. Bloomberg article points out the significance of where the collection of structures is located: within a thriving urban district hospitable to community living.

“But the most trend-setting and appealing feature of the new complex is most likely its location: plopped between glass and steel high-rises on a busy street in downtown Seattle where food trucks are abundant, apartments are within walking distance and Happy Hour greets employees at quitting time,” Spencer Soper and Peter Robinson wrote for Bloomberg.

Sphere-inspired clothing

Amazon already knows the spaces will have star power. The spheres have an Instagram account –@seattlespheres — and an employee even designed a dress modeled after the geode-like Seattle structure.

The Evergrey reported that Amazon workers have taken photos of the domes as part of a “company photo contest” last week, and that artist, designer and Amazon “design technologist” Sheridan Martin went to work on a dress inspired by them. Search the hashtag “#amazonemployeecontest” on Instagram to see additional photos of the building, and check out Martin’s Instgram page (@sheridanzig) for more on her work.

It looks like Amazon’s new structure is already changing the ways people think about and interact with their workspaces.

There is no word, however, on what employees who have hay fever will do.