Wood: Nature Inspired Design

Wood: Nature Inspired Design

Research Report


Research Report

March 21st, 2015


PDF (7.96 MB)

Over recent years there has been an increasing recognition of the benefits that humans gain from contact with trees and nature. Modern society has changed its relationship with nature. In the space of a single generation children’s play has moved from outdoors to indoors, the iconic backyard has shrunk, parents have become increasingly anxious about children’s safety, working hours and stress levels have risen and technology (especially screens) has encroached into almost all areas of life.

The health and happiness benefits associated with spending time outside in nature are well known and have been studied extensively by the scientific community and reported on by Planet Ark. This love of time in nature has been termed biophilia1,2 and explains our innate need to connect with the natural world. This relationship can be extended into the built environment where we work, rest and play. This report outlines the importance of connecting buildings with the natural world and how with ‘Nature Connected Design’ (biophilic design3) and using wood we can bring nature indoors and provide a healthier, happier environment.

Some of the elements of nature connected design are discussed and how these can be realised through the use of thoughtful construction and the use of wood. Nature connected design is not a prescriptive list; rather it is a series of principles that can be blended into variable palettes to reflect the benefits of time spent in nature.

Additionally, this report updates our previous review of studies analysing the health and wellbeing benefits of wooden interiors in homes, businesses, places of learning and places for healing, along with the results of an independent survey identifying the attitudes and opinions of Australians on wood.

Multiple physiological, psychological and environmental benefits have been identified for wooden interiors:

  • Improvements to a person’s emotional state and level of self-expression

  • Reduced blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels

  • Improved air quality through humidity moderation

  • Its use as a long-term store of carbon, helping to fight climate change

Surveyed Australians appear to be innately drawn towards wood. The results indicate that wood elicits feelings of warmth, comfort and relaxation and creates a link to nature. However, Australians, appear to still be confused about wood certification.

Promoting nature connected design and the benefits gained from using timber to the general public, home owners, designers and architects is therefore of significant importance.

Sean O'Malley

Planet Ark - Sustainability and Science Consultant

David Rowlinson

Make It Wood Program Manager

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