Please send your submission in PDF format by email to our University Engagement Manager Tim Belden at .


Following the success of our last three Student Design Competitions - Velocity in British Timber (2014), Airspeed (2015) and Arboreal (2016) - TRADA has announced a brand new competition for 2017.


This year’s competition – dubbed CO2nnect - challenges students to think about the wider issues surrounding carbon sequestration and the possibility of re-using timber modular buildings.


Students face a challenging brief to design a modular timber panel system that can be easily transported for re-use. They will be competing for the top prize of £1,500 and up to three further prizes of £500, plus recognition by the industry of their innovative design.


The idea of plug and play wall panels is not new. This competition challenges students to think about the details of the connections and sub-assemblies, so that panels can be easily disassembled and moved to either other configurations within the building, or elsewhere for re-use in another building.


The possibilities of easier re-use allows the carbon locked up with the timber to stay sequestrated for longer. This improves the strength of the argument for using the sequestrated CO2 figures for timber when considering the carbon footprint of the building.


Heritage organisations such as the National Trust and others are challenged to provide building facilities such as restaurants and cafes, at low cost, but value for money. By having a modular construction system that is both flexible and multi-use, as well as being able to be constructed quickly on site, they can erect buildings to bring in additional revenue to fund the continued protection of our national heritage.


This is therefore not only a challenge in creating a beautiful building which can be symbiotic with the historic buildings on the site, but considering the commissioning and decommissioning of the quick build wall panels themselves. It also highlights some of the challenges faced by the heritage construction sector.


Heritage is an important part of our economy with approximately £7 billion, or approximately 15% of total repair and maintenance output in Britain, being linked to work carried out on pre 1919 buildings.


Heritage tourism is also a very important industry worth £12.4bn a year to the UK and taking into account indirect economic benefit heritage tourism is responsible for £21bn of UK GDP annually.


So encouraging students to see that cutting edge designs and application of technology apply equally to the heritage sector as well as the new build sector is part of this year’s competition. It will hopefully open up students' eyes to a greater number of opportunities for careers once they have completed their studies, than they may have first imagined.


Students studying a construction-related undergraduate or postgraduate course are eligible to enter. Full details of the brief are available to download here. For more details, contact Tim Belden - our UEP manager - via email at


[1] Traditional Building Craft Skills, National Heritage Training Group, 2008.

[2] Economic impact of heritage tourism, Oxford Economics, 2009.  This includes museums and green heritage sites as well as visits to the built historic environment.

[3] Economic impact of heritage tourism, Oxford Economics, 2009.  This includes museums and green heritage sites as well as visits to the built historic environment and the indirect economic impact resulting from these sectors.

Charlie Law, Sustainable Construction Solutions

Carol Costello, Cullinan Studio

Andrew Wylie, Buro Happold

Simon Fineman, Timbmet

Simon Smith, Smith & Wallwork

Rupert Scott, TRADA

Tim Belden, TRADA

TRADA Case studies


Major Sponsor

Timber Trade Federation



Lonza Wood Protection
Stora Enso


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


Past Competitions




Arboreal (2016)


The competition required students to design a brand-new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in South Oxfordshire. 


The following video is from our 2016 Arboreal Competition:



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.


The following videos are from our 2015 Airspeed Competition:



Velocity in British Timber (2014)


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 these competitions are now closed, lecturers are welcome to use the briefs as practice for their students.

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