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 patients1. Research shows people respond emotionally to wood and are attracted to its visual variety and natural expressiveness; the visual presence of wood in a room is both psychologically and physiologically beneficial2. When construction began in 2011, the Emergency Department and Critical Care Tower expansion was the largest health care project in the history of British Columbia, serving Fraser Health Authority’s fastest growing community. The project adds acute care beds, a new emergency department, a specialized mental health and pediatric area, an adult intensive care unit, a neonatal centre of excellence, more space for the clinical academic campus of the University of British Columbia’s School of Medicine, and a laboratory with the latest medical technology.
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 2. Wood is a natural choice for sustainable building construction; wood-based building designs have a lower energy and carbon footprint.
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 materials1. Research by the University of British Columbia and FPInnovations found wood interiors reduce stress by creating a comforting, supportive and healing environment2.
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 vapours3.
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.
1 - Fell D.2002. Consumer Visual Evaluation of Canadian Wood Species. FPInnovations, Vancouver, Canada.
2 - Rice J, Kozak Robert A, Meitner Michael J, and Cohen David H; 2006 Appearance Wood Products and Psychological Wellbeing, Society of Wood Science and Technology.
3 - Wood in Healthcare: A Natural Choice for Enhancing Human Well-Being.