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The Spheres

The Spheres are unique structures built by Amazon at their headquarters in downtown Seattle to provide a space where employees can think and work differently surrounded by plants. And we say, bravo Amazon! Typical urban offices are sterile without plants and Amazon sought to enhance their headquarters with a direct link to nature via 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries. This mini forest is all contained behind 2,643 panes of glass and a steel frame in the geometric shapes of a pentagonal hexacontahedron.

Three spheres house over 2,600 plants from 30 countries' cloud regions. Photo

Three spheres house over 2,600 plants from cloud forest regions of over 30 different countries. Photo courtesy of Amazon

Plantscapers’ applaud Amazon for their innovation and insight with this incredible playground filled with nature. The potential for enhanced employee work performance, increased health and the ability to take creativity to a new level is all due to the incredible benefits of being around plants. Employees can come and innovate and collaborate, all under the umbrella of a natural environment. The human psyche is soothed and the brain works much better all due to people’s innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Edward O. Wilson popularizes biophilia in his book, Biophilia (1984)

The plants in The Spheres are organized into several different unique green spaces. One such space is the vertical gardens of the Canyon Living Wall that consists of over 25,000 plants woven into 4,000 square feet of mesh and stretches 4 stories high. The living walls also highlight flora from the world’s cloud forest and were chosen for their ability to thrive in conditions comfortable for people.

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The Australian tree fern was the very first planting inside The Spheres. Photo courtesy of Amazon

The tallest plant in The Spheres is a Ficus rubiginosa tree. Rubi, as she is affectionately called, was trucked in from Somis, California. She was planted in a tree farm back in 1969 and after a 3-day, 1,200 mile venture on the back of a flatbed truck stands proudly at 49 feet high and 30″ around the trunk under the glass domes.

Though Amazon has taken a much more complicated process to provide a natural environment for their employees, simply placing beautiful plants in decorative containers brings the same biophilic effect to any space. The effects of plants on the environment is well-studied and is even part of the Well Building Standard where plants are considered part of the process to provide a healthy building