Following the success of our last two National Student Design Competitions - Velocity in British Timber (2014) and Airspeed (2015) TRADA has announced a brand new competition for 2016.

Leaving behind machinery the new competition – dubbed Arboreal – focuses on wood science and the future of timber as a material for a tree and forestry charity and will task architectural and engineering students from across the country with designing a brand new flagship timber structure at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire. 


The design brief includes creating a new two-storey timber structure to serve as a multi use building, housing offices, seminar space, exhibition space and a field laboratory.


In the new design students will need to reflect the ethos and vision of the charity. At the same time, they’ll need to incorporate cutting-edge materials and technologies throughout to act as inspiration to visitors and users and create a sustainable building both with the materials they propose and long term usage of the new building.


The Sylva Foundation was established in 2009 as a charity to work across Britain caring for forests to ensure they thrive for people and for nature, and supporting innovation in home-grown wood. Innovation is at the heart of much of its work, and this together with wide partnership working and effective communications, means that the small charity achieves wide impact. It underpins its work with sound science — much of which it commissions or supports directly — working closely with universities and researchers.


Students from University of Coventry, Wolverhampton University, University of Strathclyde, Edinburgh University and Aalborg University in Denmark have made the shortlist for the competition will be presenting their designs in the final round of judging at The Sylva Foundation on July 5.


The judges were impressed with the quality and breadth of this year’s entries. There were plenty of positive comments about the structural concepts presented, use of materials and quality of the models.


Presentations by those shortlisted, final judging and the Awards ceremony for this year’s competition takes place at the Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire on Tuesday 5th July.


The following videos are from our 2015 Airspeed Competition:


Gabriel Hemery   Sylva Foundation
Andrew Wylie   Buro Happold
Simon Smith   Smith and Wallwork
Charlie Law   Sustainable Construction Solutions (and member of the Grown in Britain Executive)
Tim Belden   TRADA


TRADA Case studies



The year's competition is supported by generous sponsorship from Arch Timber Protection, Timber Trade Federation and Timbmet.


 If you are interested in supporting the competition in anyway, or want more information, contact our university liaison manager, Tim Belden

Airspeed 2015



The competition tasked students with designing brand new landmark timber structures within the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington to celebrate the pioneers of aviation and provide secure accommodation for the largest jet and propeller-driven aircraft.

Although the Airspeed competition is now closed, lecturers are welcome to use the Airspeed brief as practice for their students.


Velocity in British Timber


The competition required students to design a cycling super-hub for Sheffield and proved hugely popular, with students from 18 universities across Britain submitting entries. 

Although the Velocity in British Timber competition is now closed, lecturers are welcome to use the Velocity brief as practice for their students.


Wood Information Sheets
Case studies
Eurocode software
Wood species database
TRADA books online