21 September 2018

Timber innovators of 2018

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Safeguard Europe Ltd and a team of students from the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture have been named the winners of the TTJ Timber Innovation Award 2018.


The Award is comprised of two categories: Product Development, which celebrates pioneering product design throughout the industry; and Innovative Timber University Research, aimed at acknowledging the boundary-breaking work that university students are carrying out at both undergraduate and postgraduate level throughout the UK.


The shortlist, selected from online applicants, were required to present their product design or research before specialised judges. University Research finalists presented in London on July 10, while Product Development finalists presented at the TRADA offices in High Wycombe on August 28. Both category winners were announced at the prestigious TTJ Awards ceremony, held this year at the InterContinental, Park Lane, London, on 21 September 2018.


Innovative Product Development Winner



Safeguard Europe Ltd won the Product Development category for its Roxil Wood Protection Cream, a thoughtful reaction to the European Biocides Directive that restricted use of biocide-containing products for timber protection against rot and decay. Over the last two years, Safeguard Europe Ltd has been honing its biocide-free timber treatment formulation, which included complex chemistry to create an inverted emulsion, and the development of a manufacturing technique new to the company. The resulting product, a silicone cream emulsion, is not only biocide-free; with just one coat, it weatherproofs the timber and protects it from the undesirable effects of moisture—all while retaining the timber’s natural appearance. In-house testing using QUV accelerated weathering suggests the cream can last for over 10 years.


It was chosen as the Product Development category winner unanimously by the team of judges, which included Andy Manka, Media 10; Stephen Powney, TTJ; and Rupert Scott, TRADA.


Andy Manka says: “I’m impressed by the way that Safeguard Europe Ltd has combined their technical knowhow in other non-timber building sectors, their market experience of timber through their remedial preservation activities and their willingness to experiment with the chemistry and manufacturing techniques to deliver a very new offering for them and the market.”


Stephen Powney says: “Safeguard Europe Ltd demonstrated that they had been very meticulous in their research to refine the product and the manufacturing method. The company’s whole approach was very impressive and there could be a lot of market applications to explore.”


Of the Product Development category, Rupert Scott says: “Listening to and chatting with all those that presented, one after the other, is a very motivating experience for the judges; every entrant, in their own particular way, tells a story of how they have continually researched and improved their concept on all manner of fronts. These include understanding customer needs and perceptions; developing a technical solution; devising a cost acceptable method of manufacture and delivery; and meeting regulations. Typically entrants work on projects for 2-3 years before it all comes together—all made worthwhile if you can crack a new market!”


In the Product Development category, the other shortlisted entries were:

  • Professor Gokay Deveci, Robert Gordon University – Integra House
  • PFS Coatings Limited in partnership with Trade Fabrication Systems – ProStructFR®
  • Arnold Laver & Co Ltd – BANOVA® PLUS


Innovative Timber University Research Winner



Rolando Madrigal Torres, Evgenia Spyridonos, En-Kai Kuo and Eleni McKirahan, four students from the Architectural Association’s innovative Design + Make programme, won the University Research category for their work on the Sawmill Shelter.


The project was an investigation into the limits of small-section timber under tension, which involved an intricate and lightweight anticlastic timber net, and the resulting structure serves as a full-scale prototype for later builds by consecutive students at Hooke Park.


The investigation’s general conclusion suggests properties of timber, when the proper techniques are applied, permit the formation of curved building structures of a large range, including anticlastic configurations. Sawmill Shelter can therefore form the basis for further research, highlighting the potential applications of timber in doubly curved structures.


The same set of judges assessed the University Research category, with the addition of TRADA’s University Engagement Manager Tabitha Binding. She says of Sawmill Shelter: “I am a firm believer that hands-on design and make projects are exceptional teachers. Sawmill Shelter is an example of this; with a brief of ‘providing a cover for a small mobile mill using the timber grown onsite’, the four masters students who delivered the final building learnt at every step along the way and evolved an elegant and innovative solution. I hope that the research they have started reaches a wider audience and is developed further.”


Runner-up of the University Research category was Joshua Mudie from the University of Bristol with his research Insight into mechanics of externally indeterminate hardwood–concrete composite beams, detailing how concrete and timber can be made to work together.


“Joshua’s research is immensely useful and practical; he has already built on this research and we look forward to seeing the outcome,” continued Tabitha Binding. “This competition is all about celebrating the hard work UK students put into their research, with the ultimate goal of learning as much as possible about timber. The winning and running-up entries are outstanding, but all those shortlisted should be equally delighted. I’m so pleased with this year’s response and I’m looking forward to seeing what innovative entries we receive next year!”