Specifying timber for healthy buildings

Specifying timber for healthy buildings

Date Published

18 August 2022

Document Type




The impact our buildings have on how we work, heal, learn and rest is highly significant, whether it is productivity in offices, patient recovery, student performance, or our own comfort at home – all are influenced by the indoor environment and the design, products and systems used to create and furnish our buildings.

Modern construction has seen a rise in the use of natural materials, including timber. This Wood Information Sheet (WIS) looks at the increasing evidence base that underpins the use of timber in construction, especially in interiors, where people will interact with materials either directly by visual or haptic senses, or indirectly through smell, air quality, humidity buffering and thermal comfort.

This WIS is an overview of the subject with signposts to more detailed sources that are listed at the end.

Key Information

Health and well-being benefits for building occupants can be achieved by implementing biophilic design.

Timber can influence light, acoustics and comfort, and is a key design material within interiors for improved well-being.

Not all VOCs are harmful and some may even have positive therapeutic impacts.

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Case studies

Zaha Hadid Architects has designed a new building for St Antony’s College, Oxford, a beautifully crafted structure with a sinuous, shimmering stainless steel façade, positioned with great care alongside its period neighbours.

Abbotsford was the home of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), author of Ivanhoe, Waverley and The Lady of the Lake and in his time the most popular novelist of the day with readers all over the world.