Visiting a hospital can be a stressful experience, so when the British Columbia Ministry of Health was designing the Surrey Memorial Hospital expansion, the architects were asked to come up with a warm, natural facility that would also meet rigorous building performance demands.
To achieve these ends, the design used wood in structural and decorative components. The lobby features exposed wood and provides a sense of calm for all in a stressful environment. Wood use throughout the public areas of the hospital expansion reinforces the connection to nature, helping to reduce stress and anxiety for both visitors and patients.
A Comfortable, Healing Environment
The hospital’s new lobby features exposed structural timbers, panelling, and millwork, creating the impression the ceiling is being held up by trees. Wood provides a tangible connection to nature and the outdoors, and offers an aesthetic appeal unmatched by other building materials. Research by the University of British Columbia and FPInnovations found wood interiors reduce stress by creating a comforting, supportive and healing environment.
Wood Finishes: Healthy And Healing
Wood products and finishes used for the millwork, interior walls and acoustic paneling in the hospital help to control air-borne contaminants because they are easy to maintain, dust-free after installation, and emit few, if any, harmful vapours.
Modern Wood Products: Efficient And Effective
Surrey Memorial’s roof was made with prefabricated panels designed to achieve long spans with minimum connections. Wood was used for exterior soffits and, in composite form, for some of the cladding and exterior walls.
Natural Choice, Clear Benefits
Surrey Memorial used wood for canopies and cladding because it responds well to rigorous maintenance procedures, resists weather and UV damage, and looks fantastic. Wood is a natural choice for sustainable building construction; wood-based building designs have a lower energy and carbon footprint.
“The use of exposed wood in a project is one of the ways that we can improve conditions for our patients. Wood conveys a sense of warmth and comfort that supports the healing environment and improves the overall patient experience.”Capital ProjectsReal Estate & Facilties, Fraser Health Providence Health Care
An increasing number of health-care facilities are incorporating wood to provide patients and visitors with a warm, natural aesthetic, and a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature.
Research begins to show the biophilic benefits of wood, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Study results show students who spent time in rooms featuring natural wood exhibited lower stress reactivity. During all three periods of the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was measurably lower on average in the rooms featuring wood than in the non-wood office.
The bold, striking use of wood throughout the space — uncommon in such health-care settings— softens the hospital’s institutional feel and creates a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature, while standing up to weather, wear and tear, and rigorous maintenance. As the research on biophilic benefits of wood continues to grow, one of B.C.’s busiest hospitals leads the way in offering patients a comforting, supportive, and healing environment.
For architect and timber advocate Peter Busby, wood is one of nature’s greatest innovations
B.C. forest products are a predominant structural and finishing material for a wide range of transit infrastructure throughout the province, including airports, bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations. Learn more about the use of wood in transportation projects.
Learn about the latest wood design and construction trends within these four building applications while earning Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) recognized continuing learning units towards professional development.
With its wide-ranging use of different wood species, the Prince George Airport demonstrates how a high-traffic building can benefit from the resilience, versatility, durability, and thermal characteristics of wood. These were important considerations for this northern city, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, which is prone to cold, harsh winters.
An effective insulator with a warm aesthetic, wood is particularly well suited to the demanding atmospheres of swimming pools — as well as ice rinks in arenas. Wood tolerates high levels of humidity, offers acoustic and thermal benefits, and absorbs and releases water vapour without compromising its structural integrity. Indoor pool design has evolved to include ample use of natural light and bold, innovative uses of B.C. wood from sustainably managed forests.
Interview with Darryl Condon, Managing Principal of HCMA Architecture + Design, who has embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. He shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
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