Health & Transparency:
Designing for Human Well-being
Health and well-being embraces both physical health, and the psychological aspects of human performance.
Over time, most physical issues related to construction and design have been dealt with incrementally through legislation that has banned the use of toxic or otherwise dangerous substances in buildings.
In addition, new standards have been introduced to ensure adequate ventilation, reduce condensation and inhibit the growth of moulds and mildews.
Designers are also interested in potential psychological and related physiological benefits of environmental design factors. For example, intuition tells us that a connection to nature improves our sense of well-being. This can be achieved through access to daylight or views, or by providing a visual or tactile connection with natural materials such as wood.
An October 2005 article by Douglas MacLeod in “Canadian Architect” stated: “Some architects are pioneering the idea of evidence-based design as a means of rigorously examining past buildings in order to build better new ones. Evidence-based design borrows from work done in evidence-based medicine to carefully observe, quantify and analyze the way people use buildings.”
Leading Canadian architectural firms working in this area include Toronto’s Farrow Partnership. The company’s experience suggests there are tangible benefits to be accrued from a more human-centred approach to building design. For this reason, wood has begun to emerge as a material of choice in its recent designs of health care facilities. In writing about the Carlo Fidani Peel Regional Cancer Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Sean Stanwick of The Farrow partnership stated: “Wood was selected for its inherent emotive qualities, and for its ability to connect to our inner selves by evoking images, feelings and sentiment.”
The 315-bed Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre was the first hospital in Canada to gain approval for the use of wood as a primary structural element in its main public area. Architect Tye Farrow says the wood not only resonates as an aesthetic element, but is comforting as well.
Architect Bing Thom said he chose wood for key structural components in the retail and commercial development at Surrey Central City, BC “to provide a warm and tactile contrast to the smooth synthetic environment of the modern high-tech work space.”
Abodo offers a range of natural wood solutions that are free from toxic materials – for both eco decking and eco timber cladding applications.
So, Keep Calm, Choose Wood!