26 November 2021

Wood Awards 2021 winners announced

TRADA image

Six structures and two product designs have been announced as the Wood Awards 2021 winners at a ceremony on 25 November held at the Building Centre, London.


Established in 1971, the Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood. The competition is free to enter and aims to encourage and promote outstanding timber design, craftsmanship and installation.


The independent judging panel visits all the shortlisted projects in person, making this a uniquely rigorous competition.


The Awards are split into two main categories: Buildings and Furniture & Product. Within the Buildings category, there are five subcategories and a Structural Award. Furniture & Product is split into Bespoke and Production. The Gold Award is given to the project that the judges deem to be the winner of winners.


Congratulations to TRADA members Lee & Micklethwait, Smith & Wallwork, Eurban, James Latham, Price & Myers, International Timber and Stora Enso for their wins!



Gold Award and Education & Public Sector Winner

Magdalene College Library



The judges chose Magdalene College Library as this year’s Gold Award and Education & Public Sector category winner. Judge Jim Greaves comments: “Magdalene College Library is a tour de force of architectural design and achievement. The different forms of the reading rooms are beautiful and experienced sequentially as they lead one through the building. The brick, timber and stone has been designed exquisitely with a thorough understanding of their intrinsic qualities."


Location: Cambridge

Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects

Client: Magdalene College

Structural engineer: Smith & Wallwork

Main contractor: Cocksedge

CLT structure: Eurban Limited

Glulam structure: Neue Holzbau

Joinery: Wedd Joinery Limited

Timber external doors, windows, shutters and cladding: Piper Joinery Limited

Internal timber doors and screens: Trojanwood Joinery Limited

Wood supplier: James Latham

Species: spruce (Switzerland, Austria), oak (Switzerland, Italy, Croatia)


Magdalene College Library is the first substantial addition to the main college site in over 50 years. Built alongside the Grade I listed Pepys Library, the new library is an arrangement of simple brick volumes with timber windows and pitched roofs that echo the gabled architecture of the college. Interconnecting rooms lined with bookcases, reading desks and galleries are arranged on a tartan grid between linking passageways.


Three main reading rooms organise the principal circulation route, from the three-storey entrance hall to a double-height central reading room, up to a long single-height room at the top of the building. The stepping of these spaces in section is followed by the stepping of the plan form, allowing the building to address the differently scaled garden space either side.


The interior spaces are created by a glulam and CLT structure, supported on load bearing brickwork and populated with oak shelves and tables. All the key features are perceived as an interwoven set of elements. Roof lights, columns, floor beams, shelves, windows, desks, and balustrades form a coherent warp and weft throughout the space. The roof is a grid of timber lanterns with glazed gables separated by wide internal gutters. The lanterns limit glare and overheating while bringing light into the plan. The roof lanterns are supported by brickwork chimneys that provide fresh air circulation.



Commercial & Leisure Winner

The Alice Hawthorn



The Commercial & Leisure winner is The Alice Hawthorn. Judge Ruth Slavid comments, “This is modest architecture in a highly achieved manner, with everything thought through carefully. It achieves the desired agricultural character, but this is an agricultural building with a level of sophistication never seen before. The result is a series of delightful buildings where all the judges who saw the project would love to stay.”


Location: Nun Monkton, North Yorkshire

Architect: De Matos Ryan

Structural engineer: Price Myers

Main contractor: GEM Construction

Structural timber frame: Timber Workshop

Wood supplier: East Brothers

Cladding and windows: Lee & Micklethwait

Project manager: Russell Pickering

MEP services: P3r

Species: Douglas fir (UK), Larch (Siberia), poplar plywood (Spain)



In medieval times, Nun Monkton was an important river hub with many travellers staying overnight. In recent years, the village’s last remaining pub, a critical community meeting point, had come under threat. This community-led project transforms the pub’s sustainability with the addition of twelve guest bedrooms, eight of which use an entirely timber frame construction centred around a new courtyard. The design takes its inspiration from the Norse ‘garth’ (‘grassy cloister’ or ‘clearing in the woods’), creating a sense of quiet enclosure and a notional extension of the village green being a place of gathering.


The scheme also reflects the character of the various farmsteads that surround a green. The Douglas fir framed buildings use authentic agricultural building materials, including galvanised corrugated steel roofing and larch cladding, to create the sense that the animals have only recently left. A simple timber frame construction typology was adopted to reflect ‘The way it’s built is the way it looks’.


Double member cloister columns engage galvanised feet, sat on cast concrete upstands. A single layer of tight-grained larch cladding has been used externally, while internally there is a sarking layer of fireshield poplar ply. Subtle distinctions between the timber species are blurred by a tinted treatment.



Interiors Winner

St John Street



The Interiors winner is St John Street. Judge Jonas Lencer says, “I was impressed by the light touch interventions which gave the warehouse apartment a new identity. The project stands as an example for continued use of a long-lasting, but carbon intensive brick and concrete structure supported by high quality timber interiors.”


Location: London

Architect: Emil Eve Architects

Main contractor: Tuga Contractors

Joinery: Harbour Joinery Workshop

Species: European oak, birch ply (Lativa), Accoya


This large Victorian apartment was acquired as an empty shell with an industrial palette of exposed brickwork and concrete. It has been reimagined as a warm, inviting home that retains the building’s industrial character. A series of contemporary interventions are distinct from the existing fabric, with carefully crafted joinery running throughout.


The apartment opens directly into the library space, a rectangular room lined entirely in solid oak joinery. Bookshelves and hidden storage have been incorporated within a precisely calibrated array of vertical and horizontal elements. Terrazzo tiles pick up the warm oak tones and align with the joinery panelling.


he library’s thick timber lining contains deep entrances into connecting spaces. Shifts in floor surface occur at these thresholds, delineating a change in atmosphere and function, with oak chevron parquet in the living and sleeping spaces and a lighter terrazzo tile in the bathroom. Sliding oak pocket doors enable doorways to be fully opened, creating lateral views from one end of the apartment to the other.


When closed, the library becomes a contained, book-lined sanctuary at the heart of the home. A palette of lime-washed birch plywood, set against the richer oak parquet flooring, continues in the dressing room and bedrooms in the form of storage elements, a slatted bedhead and a window seat.



Private Winner

The Boathouse



The judges selected The Boathouse as the Private winner. Judge Kirsten Haggart comments, “A fabulous hand-built home with a wonderful story. The use of local materials, except for the two Canadian spruce trees, and local labour overseen by the owner, a craftsman with attention detail and a rigour in his approach, make this a worthy winner.”


Location: Devon

Architect: Adams Collingwood Architects

Client & main builder: Mr & Mrs T Stone

Structural engineer: Paul Carpenter Associates

Joinery: Rozen Furniture

Wood supplier: Stones Marine Timber

Landscape architects: Rathbone Partnership

Species: Douglas fir, yellow cedar, Sitka spruce (Canada)



This practical family residence respects the outstanding natural beauty of its surroundings and looks out over the Salcombe Estuary. Natural materials are at the heart of the project. Geometry and materials are expressed in different ways on different floors. Below-ground, the emphasis is on stone and natural curves, from a curved bench and coat rail to curved doors. Above-ground is straight, with timber and deliberately man-made materials used.


The owners’ expertise meant that the best quality wood has been used, with timber supplied by his import company, sourced from Canada. Yellow cedar tiles and cladding adorn the roof and exterior, while the upstairs floor is made from Douglas fir. The long, straight grain of the wood has been deliberately exposed on all levels to show off its beauty.


The typical house plan has been inverted, with the main living spaces set above the bedrooms. Other interesting design features include the eaves, which were inspired by thatched roofs, and the use of surplus roof copper throughout the project. The large, open plan living space is flooded with light and features a glass and timber balcony above the lower-level entrance door.



Small Project Winner

Built: East Pavilion



Built: East Pavilion is this year's Small Project winner. Judge David Morley says, "We all know what a Belfast sink is but few of us knew what a Belfast truss was until we were presented with this project. This modest project deserves recognition for how it uses timber to positively engage the community as a flexible place to move through, meet, mend bicycles or, initially, to hold an exhibition to remind the community of its heritage."


Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Architect: OGU Architects + Donald McCrory Architects

Client: EastSide Partnership

Structural engineer: O'Connor Sutton Cronin Consultant Engineers

Main contractor: Farrans Construction

Joinery and wood supplier: BPJ Group

Timber distributor: International Timber

Roof engineering and installation: Fabrite

Concrete: Moore Concrete Products

Species: Accoya


Built: East was the winning design in The Belfast Flare competition run by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects. With cultural identity being a divisive issue, it was important to find cultural common ground shared across the neighbouring communities. The site has a rich industrial history, and the Belfast truss represents the area’s history of manufacturing ingenuity.


Originally designed to make use of waste ship building timber, the Belfast truss also inspired the team to make careful use of resources. Many of the city’s largest factories had such a roof, including the Belfast Ropeworks which previously faced the site. Each element evokes memories of the area’s industrial structures. Rather than a nostalgic look backwards, it draws attention to Northern Ireland’s emerging construction innovation and contributes to the local economy. The pavilion is an assembly of three elements, each crafted in a local factory.


Traditional craft skills combined with innovative technologies created bespoke building components that could be rapidly assembled on site. 1:1 scale prototypes were CNC produced to develop the design of each truss and joint. The entire roof structure was assembled in the factory before being dismantled and transported to site.



Structural Award Winner

The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater



The Structural Award winner is The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater, chosen from all the shortlisted buildings.


Location: Manchester

Architect: Hodder + Partners

Client: The Royal Horticultural Society

Structural engineer: RoC Consulting

Main contractor: BAM Construction

Joinery: Reds Joinery Ltd

Wood supplier: Prowood Ltd, Stora Enso, Russwood, Hasslacher Norica Timber

Roof manufacturer and installer: HESS Timber GmbH

Services engineer: Hoare Lea

Species: Siberian larch (Russia), European spruce (Germany/Austria)


Sitting within the new RHS garden on the site of 154-acre Worsley New Hall, the Welcome Building is predominantly one open space that acts as a gateway to the gardens but also contains a visitor meeting and interaction point, restaurant, gift shop, offices, and educational spaces. The design is a horizontal composition that responds to a commanding horizon defined by the elevated canal and low-lying landscape, creating a linear strike in the landscape.


All public elements are contained under a single overarching glulam timber diagrid, supported on structural glulam trees. The roof extends beyond the enclosure to the north and south, blurring the edge between building and landscape, where it turns up and down at its edge, responding to the location of entrances, expressing specific uses, framing views, and forming solar shading.


The horizontal form is broken by projecting timber boxes that sit below the main roof line and house prescribed uses such as kitchens, WCs, offices, and classrooms. The timber forms extend east beyond the building with a timber decking floating over a new lake. Externally, the roof is clad in vertical larch while the projecting boxes are clad horizontally. Glazed curtain walling spans between the ground and roof. Natural light permeates through larch louvres, or filters through the diagrid via two rooflights.



Bespoke Furniture Winner

Gayles Farm 5



Gayles Farm 5 is this year's Bespoke winner. The judges were impressed by the piece's sculptural presence and how it celebrates movement. It highlights the preciousness of the material and draws the viewer in to examine its form and the quality of the individual pieces.


Designer and manufacturer: Wycliffe Stutchbury

Species: European oak


This room divider was created to further Wycliffe’s exploration of textile techniques and characteristics using wood. The piece has a flowing appearance, made up of thousands of small oak tiles glued to an open weave cotton twill, creating a curtain which is hung on a hinged, three panelled oak frame with hemp rope and cleats.


The form is dictated by how the tile construction hangs over the supporting uprights, like a sail held by a mast. The height of the screen is adjustable. The tiles were cut from discarded oak fencing retrieved from the South Downs. The variety of colours and textures is explained by the different ways the timber reacted to weathering. The piece is an attempt to display the many wonderful ways that timber responds to its environment.



Production Furniture Winner

Iso-Lounge Chair



Iso-Lounge Chair was selected as this year’s Production winner. The Furniture & Product judges are particularly impressed by the standard of projects in this category. The judges praised the Iso-Lounge Chair’s accomplished making and extreme comfort. Judge Corinne Julius comments, "It has surprising merit in that it is a piece of sculpture that disappears when sat on."


Designer: Jasper Morrison

Manufacturer: Isokon Plus

Wood supplier: Capital Crispin Veneers

Species: Silver birch (Russia), European beech and oak (Germany)


Jasper Morrison looked to Isokon’s archives and was particularly inspired by the brand’s original logo, Gerald Summers’ Bent Plywood chair with its single flowing plywood surface, and Rietveldt’s Zig-Zag chair.


Iso-Lounge’s cutting-edge design started life as a single sketch, where the hand flowed from the back of the seat to the floor. Plywood was the only choice of material to follow the curve of the cantilevered design. The cantilever relies on highly technical production to create balance and support.


More than four complete prototypes, alongside many prototype sections, were made over the course of a year to create a piece that offers total support and maximum comfort. Where strength is needed, there are more layers. Where it needs to flex, there are fewer.


The chair has been honed to be incredibly responsive. The orientation of the veneer layers and their thickness was tested over many months to push plywood to its limits. A very simple basis of an idea has been executed it as purely as possible. The chair is constructed from a single pressing consisting of 16 layers of veneer. Integral to the chair is the delicately curved back and tapering seat, created by machining the individual layers to a feather edge.



Previous winners of the Wood Awards




The buildings judging panel is led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects and includes Andrew Lawrence, Arup; Kirsten Haggart, Waugh Thistleton Architects; Nathan Wheatley, engenuiti; David Morley, David Morley Architects; architectural journalist Ruth Slavid; and Andy Trotman, Timberwright.


The furniture and product panel is led by design critic, curator and journalist Corinne Julius, and includes Oliver Stratford, editor of Disegno magazine; Rod Wales of Wales & Wales; and previous winners Yael Mer of Raw-Edges, Eleanor Lakelin, and Sebastian Cox.



As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. Sponsors include American Hardwood Export Council, Binderholz, The Carpenters' Company, Timber Development UK and American Softwoods.


Visit the Wood Awards website