Case studies

Wood in Healthcare

Wood and biophilia in healing environments

Many factors contribute to a physically healthy indoor environment, including plentiful natural light, adequate fresh air ventilation, maintenance of comfortable temperatures and humidity levels and limited exposure to environmental contaminants such as dust and harmful vapours.

Just as the definition of green building has expanded with time, so has our understanding of human health expanded to include not only our physical condition but also our psychological well-being.

We have known intuitively for a long time that humans have an affinity for nature, and being in a natural environment—a forest, a park or simply our own garden—can make us feel more relaxed. The term ‘biophilia’ has been coined to refer to this phenomenon.

Scientists have now confirmed that this sensation of relaxation in the presence of nature is due to a reduction in stress reactivity in our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This is both psychologically and physiologically beneficial for those in contact with nature.

Surrey Memorial Hospital Critical Care Tower
Photo credit: Ed White Photographics, courtesy CEI Architecture and Parkin Architects
Wood in Healthcare Case Study

Using an approach known as ‘evidence-based design’, healthcare architects have begun to explore the physiological benefits of biophilia in the design of indoor environments.