Most Seattlites are probably familiar with Amazon’s Spheres: three connected domes full of tropical rainforests and other flora, designed as a space for Amazon employees to take screen breaks, relax, and feel closer to nature.
While these Spheres feel like something straight from science fiction, they represent a growing trend in both residential and commercial architecture—biophilic design. Many major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Google, have started to incorporate biophilic design into their work spaces in order to encourage happier, healthier employees.
Biophilic design results from “the much-studied idea that human beings are happier when surrounded by nature” and is all about bringing the outdoors in. This 2018 UK study, for example, found that exposure to trees, sky, and birdsong can improve one’s mental wellbeing. In Japan, “forest bathing” refers to the popular therapeutic practice of leaving behind electronic devices to wander slowly and mindfully in a forest.
According to Olympia’s KMB Architects, biophilic design brings natural elements such as plants, running water, light, and even natural artifacts such as driftwood or stones inside. It also includes non-visual connections with nature, such as the sound of rain on the roof, natural textures, or fireplaces to evoke warmth. Often, biophilic design features circadian lighting, which “slowly varies the color of the light throughout the day to mimic sunlight and ease visual fatigue.”
Because of the Pacific Northwest’s access to gorgeous mountains, water, and forests, it’s no surprise that Seattle is a hub for biophilic design—this year’s Living Future unConference in downtown Seattle focused on this design trend.
If you’re interested in finding a home where you can feel at peace, get in touch with Pickett Street at email@example.com or (425) 502-5397. Then check out these examples of biophilic design around in the greater Seattle area.
The Spheres feature over 400 species of cloud forest plants from all over the world. Employees can work at various spaces around the spheres, including treehouse meeting rooms, tables nestled among plants, and a cafe on the bottom floor.
If you’re curious, Amazon offers free tours of the spheres on the first and third Saturdays of every month, between 10am and 6pm.
Known as the greenest commercial building in the world, this space features solar panels, rainwater harvesting, compostable toilets, and many other environmentally friendly design features.
The Bullitt Foundation’s CEO Denis Hayes asserts that the Bullitt Center was designed to be a “living building” and represents “efforts to learn from nature how to exist comfortably and productively in a particular environment, making the least possible demand on resources.”
3. Sitka Apartment’s The Island Treehouse
Calling themselves an “oasis in the city,” these apartments were inspired by the San Juan’s calm. Residents enjoy access to the Island Treehouse, a 235-square-foot communal space with cozy wood-paneled walls, a fireplace, and stunning views. Residents can also enjoy herbs and veggies from the rooftop garden.
4. The Bertschi School’s Living Science Wing
How lucky are these kids?! This elementary school houses its science program in a wing that includes a 165-square foot vertical green wall, skylights, a salmon tank, a green roof, and many other biophilic features. In order to maintain a net zero energy balance, students work with an extensive monitoring system to keep an eye on the building’s energy use.
For more examples of biophilic design, check out these gorgeous ideas for a biophilic home, or this cool West Seattle backyard studio. And don’t forget to: 1) reach out to Pickett Street Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 502-5397 to talk about your real estate options and then 2) enjoy the first week of 2019’s fall.