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Circular approach to timber construction takes President’s Medal, Bronze

Pamela Buxton

Typically, 81.6% of a tree is lost making it into timber. Tengku Sharil Bin Tengku Abdul Kadir’s Bronze Medal-winning One Tree Manual would cut this to 20-10%

Using timber in many ways to cut waste, while processing it through the building.
Using timber in many ways to cut waste, while processing it through the building.

Tengku Sharil Bin Tengku Abdul Kadir
One Tree Manual
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Tutors: Julia Backhaus; Ben Hayes

One Tree Manual explores a more circular approach to timber construction, resulting in an architecture for a timber institute derived from the properties, materiality and growth cycles of a Scots pine tree.

Briefed to explore the symbiotic coexistence between buildings and ecologies in the Anthropocene, Tengku Sharil Bin Tengku Abdul Kadir aimed to rethink construction in respect to where building materials are derived from, and how this resource is used. 

‘How we think about that is sometimes overlooked because we are constantly talking about the design itself,’ he says. 

Sharil’s starting point was the realisation that 81.6% of a tree is typically wasted in the conversion of a tree to timber. His aspiration was to get this down to zero in his proposal for a timber institute in suburban Stockholm. The site is a field alongside a forested area with no urban logging restrictions. The institute is proposed as an experiential learning centre for timber production within a new, live plantation.

He first investigated the different timber products derived from conventional timber production, looking at where in the tree’s life these came from, and analysed where the waste occurred in the process. He then proposed an alternative, more circular production process that maximised the tree’s potential as a resource, including producing cast paper from pulped timber offcuts for use as timber screens and roots as biomass. Pine resin is turned into an amber, light-filtering material for use as the wall of the institute library. Sharil estimates this strategy would reduce tree wastage to around 20-10%.

The architecture of the institute is generated by the requirements of the timber production, with visitors experiencing the lifecycle of the pine tree as they journey through the building, passing through the canopies of the trees along a raised walkway. The trees are incorporated within the timber structural system of the building, with pines planted in a regular 5m grid as the main structural columns, and a rubber-lined, expandable joint enabling the structure to incorporate tree growth.

The resulting institute is a built ‘timber atlas’, encompassing growing, manufacture, learning and making. 

Timber Institute, Stockholm – an experiential learning centre for timber production.
Timber Institute, Stockholm – an experiential learning centre for timber production.

Bronze Commendations

Kate Buurman
The Mothers of Gingerbread
Newcastle University 
Tutors: Kieran Connolly; Luke Rigg

Nabil Haque
Mono No Aware
University of Cambridge
Tutors: Rod Heyes; Prisca Thielmann

Heba Mohsen
Florida Peak
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Tutors: Pascal Bronner; Thomas Hillier

RIBA Award for Sustainable Design at Part I

Sonakshi Pandit
Urban Catalyser
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
​Tutor: Moa Carlsson; Simone Ferracina

Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing in Part 1

Edwin Davis Maliakkal
The Fifth Orchestration
University of Nottingham
Tutor: Mani Lall

Bronze Medal Judges 

Chair: Professor David Gloster RIBA Director of Education 
Graham Farmer Head of architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University
Oliver Froome-Lewis Programme director of the BSc in Architecture at the University of Reading
Tara Gbolade Co-founder of Gbolade Design Studio and co-developer of the Architects App
Sara Shafiei Director of the MSci Architecture Programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Nicky Watson Chair of the RIBA Education Committee, RIBA Board trustee, RIBA Council representative for the North East and director of JDDK Architects

For more award winning student work see

RIBA President's Medals 2020 student awards are sponsored by Arper


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