Wood for Health

Hypothesis: wood as an environmental-friendly, cost-effective, technical versatile and health-promoting material can and should be used to a much greater extent than today in interior architecture of buildings with high demands towards surface hygiene. This however requires a knowledge-based use, protection and maintenance of wood products for specific applications that takes heed of wood’s complexity as a natural material.

Wood for Health will promote safe and increased use of wood products through the development of antimicrobial surfaces, hygiene concepts and by providing the first extensive guideline for use of wood in healthcare buildings. This will be in response to demands from both the construction industry, investors and owners of healthcare buildings, who wish to extend their use of wood in construction but are unsettled regarding the feasibility and safety, particularly for hygienic reasons. Using as a case the fictional re-design of the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenborg conceptualized by the project partner White Arkitekter, the WOOD for HEALTH research team will explore the limits and potentials for wood products in health buildings with an emphasis on surface aspects.

The maxim of our guideline is to fulfill all formal technical requirements under consideration of reducing healthcare-associated infections (HCAI), but focuses on utilizing wood’s beneficial characteristics with respect to moisture buffering and psychological welfare. The necessary extensive documentation for the guideline is gathered in an applied approach that starts with defining the architectural and technical requirements to the wood surfaces of floors, walls and ceilings in the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in work package (WP) 2. Thereafter in WP 3 to 5, the aim is to meet these requirements with wood products whose uncoated and coated surfaces are holistically characterized for their technical, environmental and economic performance. This will include the development of high-performance antimicrobial and antiviral clear wood coatings that enhance cleanability of porous wood surfaces as well as are stable against detergents and the most typical sanitizing and disinfecting protocols, but still maintain wood’s moisture buffering capacity.

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