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The Wood Awards shortlist

Gone are the days when timber meant a bit of cladding

It’s an impressive shortlist for this year’s Wood Awards – always one I enjoy helping to select for the very good reason that you get to see not only excellent architecture and craft skills, but also smaller projects by interesting practices that don’t crop up so much in other awards. It’s also the only one of its kind I know of that includes interiors and furniture as well as entire buildings – ‘excellence in British architecture and product design’ as they put it.

The 20-strong shortlist ranges far and wide. Long gone are the days when the use of timber in buildings came down to a bit of exterior cladding or interior panelling. As all readers of RIBAJ know, buildings of considerable size are now built with timber structure – whether framed or in CLT (cross-laminated timber) – before you get to the skin of the thing. This is a matter of warmth and texture as well as rapid erection and sustainability. It has been great to see this approach – championed especially by younger architects, and then enthusiastically adopted by the profession as a whole – move from the fringes to the mainstream.

The five categories are Commercial and Leisure, Education and Public Sector, Interiors, Private, and Small Projects. Our genial and efficient chair is architect Michael Morrison of Purcell. Furniture is separately judged, with Max Fraser as chair. 

  • Commercial and leisure - Alconbury Weald Club, fine community spaces with CLT structure by AHMM.
    Commercial and leisure - Alconbury Weald Club, fine community spaces with CLT structure by AHMM. · Credit: Rob Parrish
  • Commercial and leisure - Gloucester Services by Glen Howells Architects, a destination in itself.
    Commercial and leisure - Gloucester Services by Glen Howells Architects, a destination in itself.
  • Commercial and leisure - Sky Health and Fitness Centre by woodmeisters dRMM.
    Commercial and leisure - Sky Health and Fitness Centre by woodmeisters dRMM. · Credit: Paul Carstairs.
  • Commercial and leisure – Stihl Treetop Walkway, Wesonbirt Arboretum, second on the shortlist for Glenn Howells Architects.
    Commercial and leisure – Stihl Treetop Walkway, Wesonbirt Arboretum, second on the shortlist for Glenn Howells Architects.
  • Commercial and leisure – Welcome Centre, Mottisfont Abbey, Hants by Burd Haward Architects for the National Trust.
    Commercial and leisure – Welcome Centre, Mottisfont Abbey, Hants by Burd Haward Architects for the National Trust.
  • Education and Public Sector – Harmondsworth Barn conservation and repair by Ptolemy Dean Architects. It is 590 years old, you know.
    Education and Public Sector – Harmondsworth Barn conservation and repair by Ptolemy Dean Architects. It is 590 years old, you know.
  • Education and public sector – Maggie's Manchester by Foster + Partners. Timber trusses and laminated veneer lumber, though anything but lumbering.
    Education and public sector – Maggie's Manchester by Foster + Partners. Timber trusses and laminated veneer lumber, though anything but lumbering. · Credit: Nigel Young/Foster Partners.
  • Education and public sector – Mellor Primary School near Stockport by Sarah Wiggleworth Architects. Serving the Forest School ethos, made of glulam frames.
    Education and public sector – Mellor Primary School near Stockport by Sarah Wiggleworth Architects. Serving the Forest School ethos, made of glulam frames.
  • Education and public sector – St Clare's, Oxford by Hodder + Partners. New quad made of oak-veneered prefab units.
    Education and public sector – St Clare's, Oxford by Hodder + Partners. New quad made of oak-veneered prefab units.
  • Education and public sector – Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, Yorkshire, by FCB Studios. A new community for Benedictine nuns.
    Education and public sector – Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, Yorkshire, by FCB Studios. A new community for Benedictine nuns.

Look at the slideshow and you’ll see what a great shortlist we have this year. For instance there’s a motorway service station, Gloucester Services, by Glenn Howells Architects, who also contributes the Stihl Treetop Walkway at nearby Westonbirt Aboretum;  you find not only the Manchester Maggie’s Centre by Foster and Partners, but also the Mellor Primary School by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects as published in RIBAJ – two buildings as different as could be in their aesthetic, which serves to demonstrate the versatility of timber.

  • Interiors – Christ Church Crypt, Spitalfields by Dow Jones Architects. European oak in Hawksmoor's crypt.
    Interiors – Christ Church Crypt, Spitalfields by Dow Jones Architects. European oak in Hawksmoor's crypt.
  • Interiors – Portledge rear staircase by Witcher Crawford architects and designers. A new stair in the medieval wing of Portledge House, Tiverton.
    Interiors – Portledge rear staircase by Witcher Crawford architects and designers. A new stair in the medieval wing of Portledge House, Tiverton.
  • Interiors – Tufnell Park Road, London, by TYPE Studio. A lovely infill extension in chestnut and larch to a Victorian terrace house.
    Interiors – Tufnell Park Road, London, by TYPE Studio. A lovely infill extension in chestnut and larch to a Victorian terrace house.
  • Private category – Ansty Plum house, Wiltshire, by Coppin Dockray. A nice retrofit and extension to a 50 year old house in Douglas fir by David Levitt.
    Private category – Ansty Plum house, Wiltshire, by Coppin Dockray. A nice retrofit and extension to a 50 year old house in Douglas fir by David Levitt.
  • Private category – Contour House, Baslow, Derbyshire by Sanei Hopkins Architects. Timber structure, stone clad, it snakes along the hillside.
    Private category – Contour House, Baslow, Derbyshire by Sanei Hopkins Architects. Timber structure, stone clad, it snakes along the hillside.
  • Private category – Woodpeckers house by Strom Architects, New Forest, Hampshire. Timber-framed replacement for a 1930s bungalow. on wooded site.
    Private category – Woodpeckers house by Strom Architects, New Forest, Hampshire. Timber-framed replacement for a 1930s bungalow. on wooded site.
  • Small project - Kingston Ancient Market Place & Stalls, by Tonkin Liu. Delicate perforated CLT.
    Small project - Kingston Ancient Market Place & Stalls, by Tonkin Liu. Delicate perforated CLT.
  • Small project – Doors for 55 St James's Street, London, by Sarah Kay. In German and French oak, an unquestionable sense of arrival.
    Small project – Doors for 55 St James's Street, London, by Sarah Kay. In German and French oak, an unquestionable sense of arrival.
  • Small project – Hollow, Bristol, by Zeller and Moye with artist Katie Paterson. Meditative space made up of over 10,000 unique tree species.
    Small project – Hollow, Bristol, by Zeller and Moye with artist Katie Paterson. Meditative space made up of over 10,000 unique tree species.
  • Small project –The TWIST, by the Architectural Association at Timber Expo 2015. Gone but not forgotten, a dramatic geometrical experiment in plywood.
    Small project –The TWIST, by the Architectural Association at Timber Expo 2015. Gone but not forgotten, a dramatic geometrical experiment in plywood.

I’m fascinated to see that Hodder and Partners has adopted an oak-clad CLT system for its new quad at St Clare’s Oxford, and delighted that Stanbrook Abbey by FCB Studios has made the cut – it’s the lead building study in our August issue, see it here. Conservation is not forgotten: the restoration of the medieval Harmondsworth Barn near Heathrow by Ptolemy Dean shows how durable timber buildings are – this one is dated to 1426/7.

  • Bespoke category - Charles-Byron's Log Stack Cabinet highlights the beauty of European Oak end grain.
    Bespoke category - Charles-Byron's Log Stack Cabinet highlights the beauty of European Oak end grain. · Credit: Maker Byron and Gomez.
  • Bespoke category - Pantori by Steph Leake, inern at Jack Badger Ltd. It's a freestanding pantry larder in European oak and English Ash.
    Bespoke category - Pantori by Steph Leake, inern at Jack Badger Ltd. It's a freestanding pantry larder in European oak and English Ash.
  • Production made - Dyehouse Fall Bench in French Green Oak made by Dyehouse.
    Production made - Dyehouse Fall Bench in French Green Oak made by Dyehouse.
  • Production made - Ercol's Flow Chair in European Beech.
    Production made - Ercol's Flow Chair in European Beech.
  • Production made - Planks Collection by Benchmark in British Douglas Fir or European Oak.
    Production made - Planks Collection by Benchmark in British Douglas Fir or European Oak.
  • Production made - Sebastian Cox kitchen by DeVOL and Sebastian Cox. English Beech, English Ash and Birch ply. Maker DeVOL.
    Production made - Sebastian Cox kitchen by DeVOL and Sebastian Cox. English Beech, English Ash and Birch ply. Maker DeVOL.
  • Production made - Stretch extending dining table in European Beech, Birch or Oak by Pengelly Design Ltd, maker Holz-in-form.
    Production made - Stretch extending dining table in European Beech, Birch or Oak by Pengelly Design Ltd, maker Holz-in-form.
  • Production made - Well Proven Stool by van Aubel and Shaw, uses a composite of sawdust and soya based resin on American Ash, Cherry and Walnut legs.
    Production made - Well Proven Stool by van Aubel and Shaw, uses a composite of sawdust and soya based resin on American Ash, Cherry and Walnut legs.
  • Student designer -  Geometry table in European Oak and steel by Michael Stevenson of Building Crafts College.
    Student designer - Geometry table in European Oak and steel by Michael Stevenson of Building Crafts College.
  • Student designer - Juan Junca of the Building Crafts College produced the Milena easy chair in European Oak .
    Student designer - Juan Junca of the Building Crafts College produced the Milena easy chair in European Oak .
  • Student designer - the One-sheet dining chair b Terry Davies of Rycotewood Furniture Centre uses just one sheet of Finnish Birch ply.
    Student designer - the One-sheet dining chair b Terry Davies of Rycotewood Furniture Centre uses just one sheet of Finnish Birch ply.
  • Student designer - Jan Waterston of Rycotewood Furniture Centre made this wraparound bicycle-inspired chair in English Ash and American Ash veneer.
    Student designer - Jan Waterston of Rycotewood Furniture Centre made this wraparound bicycle-inspired chair in English Ash and American Ash veneer.

Of course there are some very desirable private houses including Sanei Hopkins’ ‘Contour House’ in the Peak District which is entirely stone-clad, but timber beneath the skin. The Small Projects category includes something as small as a pair of doors by designer Sarah Kay in St James’s, Westminster, and the perforated CLT of Kingston Ancient Market Stalls by Tonkin Liu.

Thanks to all the judges and to the industry sponsors of this not-for-profit competition, now in its 45th year. As ever, we are delighted to present the shortlist to our UK and worldwide online audience:  this is an award which deserves the widest airing.

The Wood Awards

Arnold Laver sponsors the Arnold Laver Gold Award.
Major Wood Awards Sponsors are American Hardwood Export Council, Carpenters' Company, TRADA and Wood for Good.
Other sponsors include American Softwoods, British Woodworking Federation, Furniture Makers' Company,
Forestry Commission, the Timber Trade Federation and 100% Design