The future office is built on sustainable timber

Jul 14, 2020

Nicole Bittar


Contrary to space-age preconceptions, the future office will not be a slick and shiny, soulless domain. While technological advances are projected to fast track and streamline the way we conduct business, our workplaces of tomorrow will embrace sustainability and renewability with a focus on humanity.

Future office design trends denote an organic look and feel that pay homage to the comforts of home. The accent will be on showcasing the natural elements of sustainably sourced timber as a highly efficient, workable and timeless raw material.

Architectural and commercial design predictions highlight a range of key construction and interior trends for the future office. Lightweight, eco-friendly products, multi-purpose functionality, natural or adjustable lighting and ergonomic design shine as guiding lights for the workplace of tomorrow.

Renewable wood is already being used in structural elements, such as walls, wall panels, doors, flooring and countertops, internal and external window frames, office furniture and accents. The biophilic qualities of bringing nature indoors is also reflected in customised décor, including wood and moss walls or vertical gardens, custom-made seating and feature coffee tables crafted from reclaimed or recycled tree offcuts.

How wood embraces future design

Sustainably sourced timber offers wide-ranging benefits, such as improving air quality and reducing pollution levels. It is also designed to last for generations.

When used for buildings, furniture and objects of interest, renewable, recycled and reclaimed timber, responsibly obtained from reliable local sources, also limits carbon output while breathing new life into the raw material.

Replicating or reflecting nature in a home or office environment is also proven to promote a sense of calm and wellbeing, reduce stress levels and, in doing so, inspire peak performance for the product and employee.

Renewable wood also suits every design style with an individual warmth, character and charm that offers an organic feel and classic appeal. Sustainable timber is earmarked as the ultimate renewable, so it makes perfect sense to build the workplaces and homes of tomorrow with an accountable, replenishable and enduring natural material of today.

Built to last

Creating the next-generation office also largely depends on following a circular economy model. Previously, the construction industry adopted a linear economy of using mined, manufactured and disposable materials.

The circular economy centres on sustainable, renewable and regenerative building practices; the hallmarks of which are refurbishment rather than demolition, with an emphasis on storing or separating materials for future re-use.

Equally important is the need for increased energy efficiency in the office environment. This serves to reduce operational costs and helps corporations and businesses meet or exceed global emissions targets. The self-generation of light, heat and electricity via solar panels and low-carbon elements, such as heat pumps and heat panels, will be standard practice for powering the offices of tomorrow.

A building that is designed to embrace modular elements for adaptation, reconstruction or deconstruction not only extends its life, but it does so by using or restoring a sustainable, salvaged or re-usable raw source. The uptake of wood as a building material offers enormous future potential. It is fast and efficient to build with and its strength and durability are matched by natural character and beauty. 

Wood is the only building material that helps to combat climate change by reducing and removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. When a tree is harvested, it stores carbon for the life of the wood product. As a natural insulator, due to the air pockets in its cellular structure, timber buildings can reduce power bills with their superior energy efficiency and cost effectiveness over other natural and all man-made materials.

The more is more ethos applies to sustainable timber. If responsibly sourced, with government and commercial incentives for regrowth; if it is harvested and constructed with minimal or zero-waste practices and a focus on re-usability; if its presence promotes a feel-good glow, the future looks bright for the timber industry and next-generation office.


Ormond College Masters Office, Nest Architects