Health benefits of wood
As well as glass, wood is also a prominent material for this project. While Douglas fir was used for the large, sculptural structure that supports the new floors and glass roof, Gustafs’ wood panels in a customised Oregon Pine veneer were used for the internal vertical surfaces.
Gehry was looking for a similar veneer to what he had specified for his previous masterpiece, the Walt Disney Concert Hall; a Douglas fir with a textured finish, highlighting the structure and wood grain. After experimenting with different techniques of brushing the Oregon Pine veneer, the Gustafs team found a solution that Gehry exclaimed was “spot on!”.
Wood is often the go-to choice for care environments as it is said to make people feel calmer, lowering heart rates and stress levels. According to Wood for Good, an organisation that promotes the use of timber, “A Japanese study found exposure to wooden panels significantly decreases blood pressure, while exposure to steel panels makes it rise”. It also points to another Japanese study in a care home, where wooden furniture helped to increase interaction between residents.