Wood has been used as a building material for millennia, but the biophilic benefits of wood are only recently being studied and understood. While many people agree wood is visually pleasing, researchers are discovering that wood can contribute to the health and well-being of building occupants.
One of the biggest causes of health problems in modern society is stress, causing any number of symptoms including anxiety, difficulty focusing, or interacting socially.
Research from the U.S., Canada, Austria, and other countries found that humans automatically relax when they are surrounded by elements from the natural world.
A 2010 study conducted by the University of British Columbia tested the stress-reducing effects of wood and plants in the context of an office environment by measuring the two branches of the autonomic nervous system responsible for human stress responses.
According to the study, the practical implication of this effect is that wood may be able to be applied indoors to provide stress reduction as a part of the evidence-based and biophilic design.
Research is beginning to show that wood can make a difference. Forest and Wood Products Australia commissioned a study that linked nature, biophilic design, and wood with improved physical and mental well-being. The study surveyed 1,000 Australian workers and found a correlation between the presence of wood and employees’ overall satisfaction at work, lower absenteeism, higher levels of concentration, and improved productivity.
Infographic excerpt from Workplaces: Wellness + Wood + Productivity
A study by Roger Ulrich compared outcomes in patients with views of a brick wall versus patients who saw nature and trees. While patients had the same type of surgery and were matched for other demographics, patients with windows that looked out on trees and landscape had improved patient outcomes, from shorter hospital stays to enhanced mood and less reported pain.
Although the term seems relatively new and is gradually trending in the fields of architecture and interior design, biophilia was first used by psychologist Erich Fromm in 1964, then popularized by biologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s, when he detected how urbanization is leading to a disconnection with nature.
The health benefits of wood and biophilic design are an emerging topic of interest and research. Explore the latest news and information on this evolving science below.