20 November 2018

2018 Wood Awards winners demonstrate the possibilities of timber

TRADA image

From a playful pavilion reminiscent of follies found in 18th century landscapes to one of the largest timber structures in the UK – this year’s Wood Awards had it all.


The winners captivated judges with their incredible workmanship and diverse but inspiring designs. They were announced on 20 November at a ceremony held at Carpenters’ Hall in London, where David Hopkins, Director of TTF and TRADA Board Member, had the honour of hosting.


TRADA is a proud sponsor of the Wood Awards, whose role in recognising, encouraging and promoting outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood aligns seamlessly with TRADA’s aspirations as an association.


TRADA’s Rupert Scott shared: ‘Congratulations to the winners and highly commended at this year’s Awards. As always, the contrasting mix of buildings and furniture doesn’t disappoint in showcasing the boundless possibilities of wood – from modest transformations to vast structures you can’t miss. We were absolutely thrilled by the amount of entries the Wood Awards received this year and hope the industry will continue to strive to make better, more beautiful buildings.’





The winners of the Wood Awards 2018 are as follows:





The judges selected Storey’s Field Centre & Eddington Nursery as this year’s Mears Group Gold Award and Commercial & Leisure winner. The Mears Group Gold Award is given to the winner of winners. Stephen Corbett, chair of this year’s buildings judging panel, comments, ‘The best building rose to the top, for its winning combination of architectural merit, structural ingenuity and flawless execution’.


Location: Cambridge

Architect: MUMA

Client/Owner: University of Cambridge

Structural Engineer: Aecom

Main Contractor: Farrans Construction Ltd

Joinery: C W Fields, M Borley & Sons Joinery Ltd

Glulam Structure: n’H International Ltd

Spiral Stair: Spiral UK Ltd, David Gilbert Joinery Ltd

Cedar Shingle Supplier: Marley Eternit

Wood Supplier: Brooks Bros, D F Richards, James Latham

Wood Species: American white ash, Canadian western red cedar, European oak, spruce


The 100-place nursery is arranged around three sides of a landscaped courtyard. On the fourth side is the civic scaled community centre including a 180-seat main hall. The principle rooms are lined in oak panelling. The main hall, influenced by the dining halls and chapels of Cambridge colleges, uses an exposed, articulated timber structure. The slender spruce glulam portal frames spring from the oak panelled base and pass in front of a backdrop of ash veneered panelling, the tones of the timber gradually lightening up the height of the space. A structural ceiling of layered ash joists, battens and veneered plywood conceals air extract routes for the hall’s passive ventilation strategy. The hall provides a venue for a range of activities and its acoustics can be adjusted to suit. At the west end, an ash spiral stair is a sculptural element wrapped by a curved veneered ash plywood balustrade. The nursery's turret roofed classrooms are clad in western red cedar as are the soffits to the covered nursery cloister.





The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre houses a large lecture theatre, a student learning space, seminar rooms and a dance studio. Judge Ruth Slavid said, ‘This is a building of tremendous quality and atmosphere, where every detail has been thought through’.


Location: Oxford

Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects

Client/Owner: Worcester College

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Main Contractor: Beard Construction

Joinery: Barn 6

Furniture: Benchmark, David Colwell Design

Timber Flooring: Junckers

Wood Supplier: Inwood Developments, Brooks Bros

Wood Species: European oak, Siberian larch


The project has developed and enhanced a significant part of the College’s site. The building is raised on a podium and has been designed as a theatre within a garden. A curved, stone auditorium opens directly onto an oak-ceilinged foyer that extends out to pergolas and terraces overlooking the cricket pitch. The theatre is framed by a high stone screen that rises to allow clerestory light into the space. It is surmounted by a pleated ceiling sweeping down to the stage. The space can operate as fully enclosed, darkened, or as a brightly lit environment. The dance studio stands at the end of a long serpentine lake that connects back to the ancient heart of the College.





Royal Academy of Music Theatre & New Recital Hall are two exceptional performance spaces that have been integrated within the Academy site. The judges praised the project’s wow-factor.


Location: London

Architect: Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd

Client/Owner: Royal Academy of Music

Cost Consultant: Equals Consulting

Structural Engineer: WSP

Building Services: Atelier Ten

Acoustic Engineer: Arup

Stage Theatre Consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates

Lighting Consultant: Ulrike Brandi Licht

Heritage Consultant: Donald Insall Associates

Access Consultant: Centre for Accessible Environments

Fire Consultant: WSP Fire

Approved Inspector: Approved Inspector Services Ltd

Client Advisor: RISE

Main Contractor: Geoffrey Osborne Ltd

Joinery: James Johnson & Co. Ltd

Specialist Theatre Electrics & Lighting: Push The Button

Wood Supplier: Hardwood Sales Ltd, Brooks Bros, James Latham

Wood Species: North American cherry, European oak


The 309-seat cherry-lined Susie Sainsbury Theatre now forms the heart of the Academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, it has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. Each acoustic treatment has its own graded detailing to blend the sound in all directions. Above the Theatre, the 100-seat Angela Burgess Recital Hall provides 230m of additional space for student rehearsal, public performance and recording. The Theatre is designed intimate and epic whereas the Recital Hall is tranquil, calming and visually cool. The Recital Hall is entirely lined in pale, lime-washed European oak. Woven into the design are structural elements reminiscent of string instruments. Through an aperture of finely tuned ‘strings’, an oak-lined oculus floods the space with light and provides a central focus.





Old Shed New House is a timber framed and clad home nestled within the landscape of North Yorkshire. Judge David Morley said that the project ‘seems perfectly suited to its owners: this building is simple and modest but also delicate and uplifting to visit’.


Location: North Yorkshire

Architect: Tonkin Liu

Structural Engineer: Rodrigues Associates

Main Contractor: Vine House Construction

Joinery: Image Developments Northern Ltd

Wood Supplier: Arnold Laver

Wood Species: Siberian larch, Latvian birch, Scandinavian spruce


An existing agricultural shed has been transformed into a gallery for a lifetime collection of books and art. The steel portal frame and ground-slab have been enlarged and infilled with a new timber frame clad in varied widths of shot-blasted timber and galvanised steel. The rhythmic façade reads like the bark of silver birch trees found on the site. The landscape is drawn into the building’s two double-height volumes through large axial openings. A long gallery entices visitors in. A tall south-facing library evokes a forest clearing in the heart of the house. The spacious library is wrapped by a modestly sized living room and three bedrooms. Behind the long gallery, a thick wall conceals the staircase, utility room and storage. The environmental approach was to create a highly insulated and airtight building that follows the passivhaus strategy. Timber solar louvres were integrated into the cladding system to limit solar gain.





Look! Look! Look! is a pavilion within a 18th century walled garden originally designed by Georgian landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The judges praised the project’s sense of fun.


Location: Berrington Hall, Leominster

Architect: Studio Morison

Artists: Ivan Morison, Heather Peak

Client/Owner: The National Trust

Structural Engineer: Artura

Wood Supplier/CNC Cutting: WUP Doodle

Wood Species: Birch ply, Douglas fir


The birch ply and fabric structure is a contemporary version of the follies or ‘eyecatchers’ featured in 18th and 19th century landscaping. The sculptural form is based on a rectangle of paper that has been folded in a way that gives it structural stability and creates a sense of shelter. The most important aspect of the work was to create a sense that the final form had been folded into place, and that the edges were sharp. The artists opted to use engineered ply, cut using a five axis CNC, to create the individual components later to be assembled in the workshop. The structure is made of 90 rhomboid timber cassettes with fabric pulled over and invisibly fixed to each.





This year’s Structural Award winner is The Macallan Distillery & Visitor Experience, chosen from all the shortlisted buildings. Judge Nathan Wheatley comments, ‘This unique roof unites architecture and engineering to create one of the UK’s largest timber structures in the UK, and is the crowning glory of the new distillery’.


Location: Charlestown of Aberlour, Scotland

Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Client/Owner: Edrington

Structural Engineer: Arup

Main Contractor: Robertson

Installation: L&S Baucon GmbH

Joinery/Wood Supplier: Wiehag

Wood Species: Norway spruce


The Macallan is built on an estate that has been creating single malt whisky since 1824. The scheme’s five domes mirror the surrounding landscape but also allow height for the stratification and exhaust of hot air. A 3x3m lattice of beams is imposed orthogonally on the form-found shell of the roof. This approach allows for structural robustness and gives space for increased shear capacity. The timber is reinforced with steel to act compositely where needed. All the timber elements were fabricated in Austria using advanced CNC machinery. The roof is 207m long and has an area of 13,620m2. The roof package comprised 350,000 separate pieces, including fixings, and almost every piece was different.





The Judges’ Special Award is discretionary. Woodland Classrooms, Belvue School, stood out on the strength of its achievement for the schoolchildren who have been rewarded with an unforgettable, life-changing learning environment.


Location: Northolt

Architect: Studio Weave

Client/Owner: Belvue School

Structural Engineer: Timberwright

Main Contractor: IMS Building Solutions

M&E Consultant: Arup Unpublish

Project Managers: Jackson Coles

Roofing Sub-contractor: VMZinc

Wood Supplier: T. Brewer

Wood Species: Western red cedar (Canada)


Belvue School is a secondary school for students with moderate to severe learning difficulties and a range of other needs. 150sqm of intimate extracurricular spaces with domestic quality have been built on a modest budget. The boundary between the playground and adjacent woodland was identified as the border between familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world beyond, with the new Woodland Classrooms acting as a gatehouse. ‘Cosy Lounge’ is used for workshops and engaging with the woodland, as well as being a calm private sensory space when required. ‘Sociable Kitchen’ includes a café and group dining. ‘Messy Barn’ allows all-weather outdoor learning. Through encouraging students to adopt extra responsibilities and be more autonomous the school nurtures their social, emotional and personal development. The concave ceiling creates an intimate scale which opens up to clerestory windows as you move towards the centre of the room. The stack effect allows the spaces to be entirely naturally ventilated.





CLEFT is a series of cabinets made from different Japanese tree species. Corinne Julius, head of the furniture & product judging panel, comments, ‘We were enchanted by Cleft’s doors: they make you want to examine the material and touch it’.


Designer: Peter Marigold/Tadanori Tozawa

Maker: Hinoki Kougei

Represented by: Sarah Myerscough Gallery

Wood Species: Smoked oak, oak, cherry, jindai sugi, ash, kenponashi, conker, kihada, sen


Designer Peter Marigold, worked closely with Tadanori Tozawa of woodworking manufacturer Hinoki Kogei. The wood chosen for each cabinet is selected carefully according to how it will split and work in relation to the overall cabinet dimensions. The pieces are inspired by the notion of splitting one thing into two and creating bi-symmetrical objects. The cabinets dramatically reflect light and shadow over their choppy exterior and impressed the judges with their wabi-sabi allure.





The judges felt that Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s Ballot Chair represented a masterclass in what an exercise in simplicity should look like.


Designer: Barber & Osgerby

Manufacturer: Isokon Plus

Wood Supplier: Timber Link International

Photography: Rory Gardiner

Wood Species: European oak (Germany)


The chair is a handcrafted, solid oak design. The most significant challenge was to produce a chair that efficiently stacks whilst retaining an elegant form. The sections of oak that make up the chair are thin but extremely strong, enabling the back to be narrower at the top. The chair is a simple, tactile and versatile design that is a seamless edition to the collection.





Objekt Bord is an assembly of two components – an upright curve and a circle. The judges felt that Ellen Svenningsen has designed something that, with some development, could go into production. Svenningsen has been awarded a £1,000 cash prize as winner of this category.


Designer: Ellen Svenningsen

College: Building Crafts College

Wood Supplier: Slecuk

Wood Species: British birch ply


The piece questions the distinction between an object and a piece of furniture and reflects a constant demand for finding balance. The project was driven by a curiosity to learn and understand the process of laminating and bending plywood, the birch ply offers strong structural integrities yet is flexible enough to smoothly bend.





Super Desk, inspired by Gio Ponti’s SuperLeggera chair, is designed to create a sense of space and openness in small domestic settings. Ben Smith has received £500 for winning the Student Designer People’s Choice Award. Voting took place at London Design Fair.


Designer: Ben Smith

College: Building Crafts College

Wood Supplier: Tyler Hardwoods

Wood Species: British olive ash


Employing visual simplicity and impressive craftsmanship, the table’s stability comes from the rake and splay of the legs and tensile strength of the solid timber rails.  Smith chose solid British olive ash for its strength and flexibility.





This year’s buildings judging panel was led by three-time Gold Award winner Stephen Corbett of Green Oak Carpentry. The panel includes Andrew Lawrence, Arup; Adam Richards, Adam Richards Architects; Kirsten Haggart, Waugh Thistleton Architects; Nathan Wheatley, engenuiti; David Morley, David Morley Architects; Jim Greaves, Hopkins; and architectural journalist Ruth Slavid. The furniture and product panel was led by design critic, curator and journalist Corinne Julius. The panel includes Oliver Stratford, editor of Disegno magazine; Russell Pinch of Pinch Design; Eleanor Lakelin, maker and winner of the 2017 Bespoke category; Katie Walker of Katie Walker Furniture; and Rod Wales of Wales & Wales.


As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. Mears Group sponsors the Mears Group Gold Award, which is the project that the judges deem to be the best of all the winners. Major Sponsors are American Hardwood Export Council, Carpenters' Company and TRADA. Other Sponsors include American Softwoods, Arnold Laver, Forestry Commission, Timber Trade Federation, Wood for Good, Furniture Makers’ Company and London Design Fair.