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29 May 2017 Comments (0) Architecture

The giant biosphere of Amazon

After the Apple “spaceship” that landed in Cupertino in April and Google’s “floating datacenter” in San Francisco, it is now Amazon’s turn to revolutionise its offices.

Twenty years ago, on 15 May 1997, the company created by Jeff Bezos, entered the market. Two decades later, not only has Amazon survived, it has truly become the great river its name suggested. By developing its logistics centres all over the world, the company has increased its workforce from 250 to 270,000 employees. Workers that the e-commerce giant, whose management methods are known to be intimidating, now intends to pamper.

How? A new head office in the Denny Triangle district, in Seattle, the city where it all started… Spread over 80,000 m², Amazon’s new headquarters will embody the financial power and planetary influence of the Web giant. But with an intentionally disruptive touch. By 2018, employees will work in three quite traditional 38-storey buildings, at whose feet amazing biospheres will have flourished. Three glass bubbles twenty metres high, mixing vegetation and offices.

Green therapy

With their own microclimate, these three glass domes will be decorated with 400 varieties of tropical trees and plants. Lush vegetation (40,000 plants in total) crossed by internal streams and suspended bridges. Flooded with natural light, the complex will serve as a “place of refreshment” for Amazon’s employees. According to Dale Alberta, the project’s chief architect, these biodomes will help employees ” think more creatively and come up with ideas that wouldn’t have emerged in traditional offices.” Why spheres? “It is the most effective way of containing volumes without enclosing them. The idea was to create a protective envelope, which stimulates calm, fellowship and imagination” explains the NBBJ architect, the agency behind Amazon’s new campus.

Maybe becoming aware of the time spent in front of screens, technology giants have lately become rivals in ingenuity in their attempts to put their staff back in touch with nature. Airbnb installed a planted wall in the hall of its headquarters in San Francisco. Apple is going to plant a 8,000-tree forest on its new campus in Cupertino. Meanwhile, Adobe has incorporated vegetable design elements in the middle of its buildings in San Jose, California.

The workspace has become a new forum for expression. Amazon has understood this. Ambitious in architectural terms, the project will also incorporate a park, a cycle path, restaurants, shops, sports halls… I.e. a “city in the city”, designed to allow employees to find everything they need without leaving their office.

To show how the project is progressing from day to day, an Instagram account has been created: seattlespheres

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