The Wood Awards go from strength to strength. Last year my predecessor reported that there was a high standard of entries but no obvious winner in any category. This year was different as there were several possible category winners from the outset – but the final debate among the judges in September was no easier. That is part of the strength of these awards, whereby the panel of judges, who in all spent 116 judge-days during the summer personally inspecting the shortlist, ensured the entries were assessed by a range of different experts in the fields of architecture, design and craft. In the initial, individual, anonymous task of trawling through a huge entry, 87 of the projects secured at least one vote. That said a great deal about the ever increasing standard of projects entered and moved us to issue a ‘longlist’ for the first time. My thanks to all the judges for their time and dedication.
As the awards have matured, they have also gained strength both from long-term sponsors, and welcome new ones. These sponsors represent many facets of the international and domestic wood industries, all of which are seriously committed to the sustainable use of responsibly and legally harvested wood in buildings and furniture.
Since the Wood Awards were launched 12 years ago, built on the original Carpenters’ Award from 1971, we have seen a magnificent array of building projects – from enormous concert halls to little bridges and every kind of house, office, church, school, museum, retail store and swimming pool. This year was no exception and they came from all over Britain – from the Isle of Tiree off mainland Scotland to deepest Sussex under the South Downs. Some years ago now, the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) project was submitted for the awards, whereas this year there were many, showing the importance of innovation and technology in wood as a modern building material.
It has been a joy to re-join the awards and to see the progress of the awards themselves; witnessing at first hand the growing acceptance of wood as a sustainable material with the lowest impact on the environment that we have for buildings, interiors and fit-out. So, thank you Michael Morrison, immediate past Chair of Judges, for your guidance in the last few years and I hope all will be satisfied with the choice of winners we made from what was a very strong entry in 2014.
Michael Buckley, Chair of Judges, Wood Awards – Buildings