Brian Leslie, technical advisor for Canadian Wood, from British Columbia on trends and designs in office spaces using wood

Brian Leslie, technical advisor for Canadian Wood, from British Columbia on trends and designs in office spaces using wood

Nature and handicrafts have been sources of design inspiration ever since the first half-timbered house. Today in the wake of much environmental awareness, forests have again become an accepted source of inspiration. No other building material showcases the beauty of nature, radiates warmth and adds value the way wood does. Wood from sustainable, certified forests can create an architecturally expressive corporate statement and unique retail environment for shops and restaurants. Exposed heavy timber beams, wood window frames, wood flooring, panelling and cabinetry often create dramatic, exciting commercial spaces.

Trendy and utilitarian workspaces
The undeniable fact of urban living spaces is that space is an absolute premium and every inch of it must be used to the optimum level. This is a trend that is not too surprisingly spreading to the smaller towns as well as there is a certain economic and ergonomic merit in such thinking. This demands home office spaces that are compact, do not take up too much leg space and blend in with the savvy layout of the remainder of the home.
One such trend is the consistent use of wood in the same texture and colour for cabinets, shelves and the chair along with matching décor and dark wooden flooring gives the setting a flowing, coherent look.

Moving away from traditionally used colours, designers are now mixing light coloured wood with dark ones to add dynamism to a space. For instance western hemlock from Canada is a light coloured wood perfect for furniture and flooring. This wood type can be used together in its natural form and then stained to a darker finish for other applications in the room.
Sustainable wood is highly versatile as it can be combined with other materials as well. A brightly coloured floating wall mounted work station with a wooden shelf above gives an edgy look.

A part of any office space is conference tables. Conferences tables need to have a stature of its own. Solid wooden conference table stained to a dark walnut finish with leather cushioned chairs is a sure shot winner. 

Moving beyond space into wellness
Architects and interior designers are now working cohesively with clients to create a space where employees feel motivated. It’s not just about office cabinets anymore. Companies are investing heavily in keeping employees safe and happy starting from the space they work in. Designers have started using wood as it is a material that immediately connects to nature generating positive feelings because of its warm and natural attributes, and evidence suggests that this can contribute to an individual’s overall sense of well-being.

Not only have this but wooden floors contribute to better air quality by minimizing the accumulation of dust and microbes. They can be kept allergen-free with regular dust mopping, sweeping and vacuuming. Engineered wood products used for sheathing and for beams and joists are made with glues that do not contribute to allergies.

Wood helps make a building more comfortable by moderating indoor humidity. During times of high humidity, it absorbs moisture; during dry periods, it releases moisture to the air. Research has found that interior wood panelling can reduce peak moisture loads by 10 to 25 per cent, making it more comfortable and reducing the need for air conditioning and ventilation.

Worldwide View
Michael C. Green, a Vancouver, B.C.-based architect has been leading a movement on wood-based, eco-friendly architecture for years, and is now completing the University of Northern British Columbia’s Wood Innovation and Design Center in Prince George. In Vancouver, he’s building a 30-story wood-based structure for his architecture practice, MGA. These buildings are made using sustainable, legally harvested lumber.

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