Why Wood is Good for Health & Wellbeing

Wood - Nature Inspired Design front page © David Rowlinson

Planet Ark's new report; Wood - Nature Inspired Design

To coincide with World Wood Day 2017 Planet Ark has completed a new report - Wood - Nature Inspired Design - which outlines the importance of connecting buildings with the natural world and how with 'Nature Connected Design' (also called biophilic design) and using wood we can bring nature indoors and provide a healthier, happier environment for all.

A disconnect with nature

Modern society has changed its relationship with nature. In the space of a single generation children’s play has moved from outdoors to indoors, the iconic backyard has shrunk, parents have become increasingly anxious about children’s safety, working hours and stress levels have risen and technology (especially screens) has encroached into almost all areas of life.

Increasing urbanisation rates mean that people have less access to nature in their daily lives and Australians on average now spend over 90 per cent of their time indoors. This disconnect with nature and the outdoors corresponds with reports of increasing levels of obesity and nearly half of Australians experiencing a mental health condition within their lifetime.

Bringing the benefits of nature indoors

As it is not always possible to increase our time spent outside, particularly in areas like workplaces, schools and hospitals, understanding how to incorporate the physiological and psychological benefits of nature into our indoor environments is increasingly important.

Why we need to connect with nature

Our need to spend time in nature has been termed ‘biophilia’ and explains our innate need to connect with the natural world. This relationship can be extended into the built environment where we live, work, rest and play.

Benefits of wooden interiors

Multiple physiological and psychological benefits have been identified for wooden interiors, including:

  • Reduced blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels
  • Improvements to a person’s emotional state and level of self-expression
  • Improved air quality through humidity moderation

Environmental and health benefits of timber

Responsibly sourced, certified timber has clear health and happiness benefits, as well as being a key weapon in the struggle against climate change by both storing carbon and reducing carbon emissions.

Wood is one of the oldest and most versatile building materials we have, but now more than ever it has a large part to play in the construction of healthy buildings for us to live, work, learn and recover in.

Exemplar projects incorporating nature connected design

Marist College, Bendigo

JSRACS Senior Learning

Library at the Dock

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