Amazon has turned property portfolio management into an exercise in neighbourhood design.

The Mighty River is now officially running through ‘rainforest’ – well, sort of. One of the leaders in the new era of intelligent buildings, tech behemoth Amazon, has gone back to nature to create a cutting-edge space that is extremely green. Part of a collection of 40,000 plants, the main living wall – cleverly constructed of little fabric pockets so its plants can cohabit without destroying each others root systems – stretches a full four stories.

Watered from the top down and kept within a highly controlled climactic environment, it shares space with a very large tree, over 15 metres tall and 6.7 metres wide. Why? Because they believe that the vital missing ingredient in workplace life is nature and by putting it back in the mix, employees will be more engaged, productive, creative – and more likely to stay with the business. It is pretty impressive as you can see in this video.

Of course, being Amazon, the place has tech credentials as well as environmental ones. For the construction geeks out there – the ‘Spheres’ have over 2,643 panes of ultra energy-efficient surface glass that can also keep out unwanted infrared wavelengths, in a construction of overlapping pentagonal hexecontahedron Catalan solids. Catalan is a word that had to be created to explain the innovative five-sided weight distributing shapes used to create the structure.

But it would be a mistake to look at the Spheres in isolation – it is in fact one part of a much larger project, the complete revitalisation of a neighbourhood. The total scope covers 306,500 square metres – that’s three city blocks. The overall design includes, amongst other things, a two way cycle track, dog parks, three high rise office towers, a mid rise building, a meeting centre, restaurants, marketplaces, cafes and multiple outdoor areas. It is all located in downtown Seattle, close to apartments, transport and an abundance of workforce after-hours amenities. Why is that smart? Because people often choose where to work based on what the neighborhood can provide.

Is wider innovation in workplace design shifting from smart buildings to smart neighbourhoods? Whether through individual corporate efforts or private public partnerships, it is very likely to. Find out what's coming in the future workplace and how to plan for it, today, in the first in our free Property 4.0 research series. Download your copy now

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