Surrounding yourself with wood is good for your health, your emotions and your creativity

A study has revealed that Covid and other types of coronaviruses survive much less time on wood than in contact with plastic, stainless steel and masonry.

It is a sensation that people have been experiencing for centuries. Wood is really good for us. Its natural beauty, aroma, feel, the notion of life that a forest or just a tree transmits are evocations that are inherited by the elements built with it, whether furniture, doors, windows, toys, beams or buildings in general.

This collective intuition about the positive properties of wood, that fortunately is taking shape little by little in all areas, including sustainable architecture, is endorsed by a very interesting report brought to us by Stora Enso, manufacturer of renewable solutions in wood and paper for construction and packaging: 10 reasons why wooden constructions are good for you.

Oak House School

Oak House School | Arch: Trasbordo arquitectura y gerencia de construcción S.L. | Product: Ventilated façade – Accoya® tongue and groove units

Research carried out in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich

This study was undertaken by a team of the Chair for Timber Structures and Building Construction of the Technical University of Munich, and consisted of a bibliographic compilation of a large number of scientific publications on the subject.

In total more than 116 papers published in important media have been reviewed, and their conclusions can be summarised as three significant advantages of timber in our lives: wood protects our health, improves our mood and stimulates us intellectually.

  1. Wood is healthy

Wood as the safest raw material against Covid-19 is a conclusion that stands out in these pandemic times, but it is not the only one. While it is true that coronavirus will remain on wooden surfaces for only 12 hours, in comparison with the 96 hours that it can last on plastic, stainless steel or masonry, it is a good idea not to let our guard down with habits such as hand hygiene and risk prevention in general.

Furthermore, the report by Stora Enso and the University of Munich compiles cases that prove that living, working and even studying in wooden buildings helps reduce people’s blood pressure and heart rate.

Centro agrícola Salez, producto VIGAM

Agricultural centre, Salez | Arch: Andy Senn Architektur GmbH. | Product: VIGAM

At the same time, people exposed to timber environments see increased activity of the NK cells, immune system cells that destroy infected cells in the body.

Finally, this investigation also concludes that wood improves air quality wherever it is, and that helps preserve the healthiest humidity range (between 40% and 70%).

Centro agrícola Salez, producto VIGAM

Agricultural centre, Salez | Arch: Andy Senn Architektur GmbH. | Product: VIGAM

  1. Wood improves our moods

The beneficial power of wood also affects our emotions, in other words, our mental health. Aside from the positive responses to wood that most of us experience consciously (aroma, warmth, natural beauty), the study compiles conclusions such as exposure to timber environments improves our mood.

It also cites evidence obtained in domestic environments, schools and hospitals that shows that wood reduces stress and contributes to our well-being. In particular, the investigation alludes to an experiment at an oncological centre in Bratislava. After subjecting people to examinations in different rooms in the hospital, it was concluded that the level of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) decreases by 7.5% when the participants were in the waiting room, recently refurbished with wood.

Dos personas en una casa de madera sonriendo

  1. Wood helps us to be more creative

Finally, this interesting compilation of scientific studies on how wood is so good for life includes experiments related to creativity, concentration and productivity. In all of them wood acts as a powerful natural stimulant of ingenuity, that perfects intellectual aptitudes and the ability to make creative decisions.

In this regard, the positive aspects of wood are specifically mentioned, demonstrated through experiments and comparisons, on the performance of students in schools where this material predominant.  

Escuela Eichendorff, Stuttgart

Eichendorff School, Stuttgart | Arch: Hausmann Architekten GmbH. | Product: VIGAM

Being aware helps improve habits

In general, being aware of a problem helps us to improve, and eliminating a bad habit usually facilitates the acquisition of a better one. For example, incorporating sports into our life is much easier if we stop smoking, and vice versa.

Once we are aware of the danger for our world of continuing with our current model of consumption, the new good habit in architecture, construction and interior design is to opt for wood. It may seem ironic, as it is the natural material that has been part of human constructions since Prehistory, but it is a fact that sustainable architecture needs sustainable solutions, and with that ambition wood is recovering its primordial role.

Some countries and some cultures have already interiorised wood products as faithful accomplices to design, function and creativity. Others are still working on it, but thanks to certifications, timber roofs and pillars can be seen more and more, and we are finding more elegant, warm and beautiful façades made with wooden curtain walling.

At the same time, the formula of innovation, ecology and wood generates incredible resources such as ACCOYA® acetylated wood, a material with magnificent performance in exteriors, with a 50-year written guarantee.

In short, we are celebrating this interesting study that highlights what many wood-lovers have known for a long time: life with wood is much better.

If you would like to find out more about the complete study by Stora Enso, you can download it here.