Red toilet in forest
Timber toilet in American oak forest – ©Tony Neilson

The calming effect of timber structures

They say wooden buildings are good for your blood pressure – like finding a ‘dunny’ in the bush perhaps?

That’s probably not what the Planet Ark Environmental Foundation had in mind recently when praising the Tasmanian Government for becoming the first Australian state to introduce a wood-first building policy.

But it is a relevant parallel thought, and reminded me of being ‘caught short’ while photographing American oak forests in Kentucky some years ago. Desperation was setting in when this beautiful, red-painted bog with gleaming white upright toilet lid showing through an open door shimmered in the distance.

Not a mirage

It was no mirage, and I can thus agree with Planet Ark’s wood promotion campaign manager David Rowlinson, that people are generally happier and calmer in wooden structures.

“Exposure to buildings made from timber [with] wooden furnishings and fittings has proven benefits to physiological and psychological health and wellbeing, similar to those experienced by spending time in nature,” he says.

“We know that workers are less stressed and more productive, students learn better, patients heal faster, and people are generally happier and calmer in indoor areas that have wooden elements.

Greater self-esteem

“Researchers have also reported that people experience higher levels of self-esteem, improved cognitive function and decreased blood pressure when exposed to wood in their built environment.”

Full marks to the Tasmanian Government for its Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP) in construction and refurbishment of public buildings. Despite numerous procurement and performance provisos, the island state has joined two local government authorities and 12 councils across Australia with WEPs.



©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.


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