Planet Ark

October 13, 2017
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We live in a slick world where trends to make our homes appear fresh and modern influence the materials we use. To what effect does this influence our health and moods?

While your new home or renovation might wow your friends with glistening tiled floors, vivid white walls and sleek modern minimalistic furniture, you may be depriving your body and brain of some important health benefits associated with building and furnishing with wood.

The range of health and well-being benefits of living, working and learning in environments rich in wooden furnishing and fixtures include:

  • We may interact more with each other when surrounded by wood. Research specifically into residents in aged care facilities showed interaction levels where higher when the facility was built and furnished with wood.
  • Enjoy lower heart rates and stress responses. Students in classrooms that feature more wood have lower heart rates and stress responses compared with students in classrooms featuring plastic and metal.
  • Enjoy your living and working space more with wooden furniture. Another study concluded, two out of three workers prefer offices with wooden chairs, desks and blinds over the same office with those items made from plastic.

 

The studies examining the effects of wooden rooms and furnishings clearly demonstrate that the presence of wood has positive physiological and psychological benefits that mimic the effect of spending time outside in nature. The feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions. Wood products within a room have also been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity.

Increased knowledge about these benefits has resulted in a number of architects and designers who are now specifically designing schools and health care facilities with significant amounts of exposed wood. The award winning Dandenong Mental Health Centre is a case in point.  The facilities designers specifically chose wood, both new and recycled, to provide warmth, texture, patterning, tactility and a non-institutional feel to the facility.