Wood Awards 2016 winners announced

The winners of the 45th annual Wood Awards, have been announced at a ceremony held on the 22nd November at Carpenters’ Hall in London hosted by editor of Crafts magazine, Grant Gibson. The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in the world’s only naturally sustainable material. The Wood Awards aims to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.

Arnold Laver Gold Award & Structural Award

The Arnold Laver Gold Award is the winner of winners. Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building by Foster + Partners, has been awarded this prestigious title (as well as winning the Structural Award). The voting for Maggie’s was unanimous with the judges commenting that the remarkable structure “has brought together the best in engineering, fabrication and architecture”.

The Structural Award was chosen from all of the buildings shortlisted in each category. Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building was awarded the Structural Award as it demonstrates that a simple, coherent structural diagram, when beautifully and carefully developed and detailed, can result in a solution of considerable merit.

  • Location: Manchester
  • Architect: Foster + Partners
  • Client/Owner: Maggie’s
  • Structural Engineer: Foster + Partners
  • Main Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Specialist Contractor: Blumer Lehmann AG / SJB Engineers
  • Landscape Consultant: Dan Pearson Studio
  • Wood Supplier: Metsa Wood
  • Wood Species: Nordic Spruce
  • Photography Credit: Nigel Young – Foster + Partners

Maggie’s Centres provide a welcoming ‘home away from home’ – a place of refuge where people affected by cancer can find emotional and practical support. The design of the Manchester centre establishes a domestic atmosphere in a garden setting with a greenhouse and a veranda. The centre accommodates a range of spaces from intimate private niches to a library. Naturally illuminated by triangular roof lights, the building is supported by lightweight timber lattice beams. The beams act as partitions between different internal areas, visually dissolving the architecture into the gardens. The timber beams are designed as trusses that reflect the magnitude and orientation of the loads acting on them, anything superfluous to the structural support has been removed. The design uses Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) timber with no visible fixing between the pieces. The diagonal arrangement of the trusses across the central spine provides stability to the roof without the need for additional elements. The desire to create a low energy, homely environment with natural ventilation and daylight defined the design.

Commercial & Leisure

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The judges chose Stihl Treetop Walkway as the Commercial & Leisure winner as it has the ability to inspire all generations to learn more about wood.

  • Location: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
  • Architect: Glenn Howells Architects
  • Client/Owner: Forestry Commission
  • Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
  • Main Contractor: Speller Metcalfe
  • Joinery Company: S H Structures
  • Wood Supplier: CTS Bridges (handrail), Ventis & Brasker Masten (column shipwrights), Russwood (decking)
  • Wood Species: Scottish and Siberian Larch
  • Photography Credit: Rob Parrish

The Grade I listed Westonbirt Arboretum is home to one of the finest tree collections in the world. The Stihl Treetop Walkway provides views over this landscape, in particular the ancient woodlands of Silk Wood and across The Downs. At almost 300m it is the longest structure of its kind in the UK. The walkway bridges across a valley, allowing for ease of access at ground level without any stairs or lifts. While walking along the structure the valley falls away beneath and the walkway rises to over 13.5m above the forest floor. The route snakes above and through the tree canopy supported by scissoring timber legs spaced at 10.5m intervals. At four points along the route it widens from 1.9m to 3.7m, providing spaces for pause and reflection. The walkway is a hybrid timber and steel structure. Larch was selected as the principal material given its durability and attractive colour. Scottish larch was selected for the decking and handrail while the columns are Siberian larch as it offers a tighter grain and higher strength-to-weight ratio.

Education & Public Sector

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The judges selected Stanbrook Abbey as the Education & Public Sector category winner as it is spiritually uplifting and sculptural within the landscape. The detailing on the furniture pieces in the church is superb.

  • Location: Wass, Yorkshire
  • Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Client/Owner: Conventus of our Lady of Consolation, Stanbrook Abbey
  • Structural Engineer: Structures One, Buro Happold
  • Main Contractor: William Birch Construction, QSP Construction
  • Joinery Company: QSP Construction
  • Organ Builder: Jennings Organs
  • Choir Stall Manufacturer: Ooma Design Ltd
  • Wood Supplier: James Burrell, Vastern Timber Company Ltd
  • Wood Species: German Oak, Scottish Spruce, Douglas Fir, British Sycamore

Stanbrook Abbey is a new home for the Conventus of Our Lady of Consolation, a Benedictine community of nuns who devote their lives to study, work and prayer. The nuns’ contemplative way of life required spaces that were simple, tranquil and beautiful. The nuns chose the remote location, in peaceful woodland at the edge of the North York Moors, for its “special quality of silence and light”. The new church derives its plan from two intersecting axes significant in the liturgy of the church, its organic form rose out of the modest orthogonal domestic architecture of the abbey. Its interior celebrates the diurnal changes in daylight and takes advantage of the dramatic views. Delivered within a modest budget of £7.5million and completed over

two phases, the new spaces include private cells, a refectory and associated kitchen, work rooms, a meeting place for before/after chapel services, guest spaces and a community church and chapel. Preference was given to renewable, recycled or low energy materials.

Interiors

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The Portledge Rear Staircase was announced as the Interiors winner. The judges said, “This is an almost faultless piece of work, a surprising intervention in the historic context that works extremely well.”

  • Location: Bideford, Devon
  • Architect: Witcher Crawford Architects and Designers
  • Joinery Company: Warren Hughes Furniture
  • Wood Species: German Walnut, English Oak

The new rear staircase is designed as a distinct contemporary insertion into the old Medieval service wing of Portledge House, a Grade II* listed Manor House in north Devon. The stair replaces a damaged multi-phase service stair and forms part of a re-ordering of the house. The staircase blends with the wall paneling to create a homogeneous design using English oak chevrons between darker walnut fins. On the staircase, the walnut fins form spindles topped with a leather handrail. The spindles are cut with arcs of varying sizes to create an organic flow. CNC machining was used prior to the staircase being assembled by hand using traditional joinery techniques. Its design as a bespoke sculptural piece was instrumental in its approval by Historic England and the local Conservation Officer.

Private

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Contour House was chosen as the Private winner, the judges said, “The workmanship displayed is quite exceptional. The project is extremely ambitious and has been realised very successfully. It has been delivered with conviction.”

  • Location: Peak District
  • Architect: Sanei Hopkins Architects
  • Structural Engineer: Elliott Wood Partnership LLP
  • Main Contractor/Builder: Constructional Timber
  • Timber Flooring: Admonter UK
  • Timber Stair: Boss Stair
  • Timber Doors: Longden Doors
  • Wood Species: American White Oak, European Oak

Sanei Hopkins was commissioned to design an open, light replacement house using high-quality traditional materials. Removing the existing house and associated landscaping allowed the ‘Contours’ of the original meadow site to be reinstated. The use of timber externally was precluded by the Peak National Park Authority because the site is in the heart of a protected landscape where stone is the prevalent material. Stone only acts as a rain screen and cladding. A combination of American white oak, European oak and some stainless steel has been used for the superstructure. Flitched feature trusses support the roof over the swimming pool and master bedroom with stainless steel ties and rod fixings. The house has been designed with sustainability at its core, maximise carbon storage whilst minimising carbon emissions and energy consumption. It utilises both local and renewable materials as much as possible.

Small Project

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The TWIST was selected as the Small Project winner as it shows an interesting new direction for timber, demonstrating the possibilities of using wood in a very beautiful and efficient way.

  • Location: Timber Expo 2015
  • Architect, Engineer & Builder: Emergent Technologies and Design, Architectural Association
  • Wood Supplier: Hanson Plywood
  • Sponsor: TRADA, Hanson Plywood
  • Wood Species: Birch Ply

The TWIST was developed by the Emergent Technologies and Design Programme at the Architectural Association School of Architecture for Timber Expo 2015. The project sought to exploit the anisotropic properties to gain full control of the bending and twisting behaviour of plywood. The system was primarily composed of two plywood strip elements: the ribs and the wings. The ribs were CNC-milled planar arcs that served a structural function while the wings were straight strips with the grain perpendicular to the length. These wings connected to the ribs at specific angles and distances in order to bend and twist. A sub-system of combs and the perpendiculars ran along the free edges of the articulated surface, locking the geometry in place computational techniques, based on the results of full-scale physical experiments, were used to generate the forms.

Existing Building Award

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After discontinuing the Existing Buildings category in 2015, the judges felt that the repair and adaptive reuse projects were so strong this year that they decided to reinstate it as an award. The Award has been given to Ansty Plum for the sensitivity shown to the existing architecture.

  • Location: Wiltshire
  • Architect: Coppin Dockray
  • Structural Engineer: Tall Engineering
  • Main Contractor/Builder: J & C Symonds Ltd
  • Joinery Company: Westside Design
  • Wood Supplier: Meyer Timber Ltd, SMS Veneering Services, Oscar Windebanks Ltd
  • Wood Species: Douglas Fir, Birch
  • Photography: Brotherton Lock

Ansty Plum, a mid-century house designed by David Levitt and wood-lined stone studio designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, has undergone a retrofit and studio extension. The buildings are situated on a steep wooded hillside overlooking a collection of 12th century buildings. The house has a simple open plan with a singular plane rectangular roof following the gradient of the land. The studio, hedged into the slope, peeps onto an ancient wooded track. Coppin Dockray transformed the house by removing many sequential changes made over the past 50 years to open up the house and express the architectonic qualities of the original Douglas fir construction. A new bedroom and study were created with bespoke Douglas Fir joinery. The derelict studio has been brought back to life, acting as an ancillary bedroom that glows pink with Douglas fir. A secluded shower room was created by extending into the hill. Access to the original drawings allowed Coppin Dockray to interpret many of the timber details.

Bespoke

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Pantori was chosen as the Bespoke winner in theFurniture & Product competition. The judges praised how this project makes bespoke furniture accessible. It is so rare to see this kind of work in a public space.

  • Designer: Steph Leake, Intern at Jack Badger Ltd.
  • Maker/Manufacturer: Jack Badger Ltd.
  • Client/Owner: Nojō
  • Wood Supplier: Brooks Brothers Timber
  • Project Architect: Holland Harvey Architects
  • Wood Species: European Oak, English Ash
  • Photography: Adrian Lambert

Inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi aesthetic that embraces simplicity and naturalness, Pantori is a freestanding pantry larder, created for Japanese crepe eatery, Nojō. A combination of Japanese and English joinery has been used. The top has been jointed using three way mitres and wedged tenons, the rails are housed dovetails, while the drawers have been housed and nailed with ring shank nails typically used in boat building. Oak was selected for the frame and flexible straight-grained ash for the woven inner drawers. Shou Sugi Ban, the traditional Japanese technique of burning timber to preserve it and make it resistant to fire, rot and insects, inspired the scorching on the oak. Within the drawers, waste sawdust creates a substrate for mushrooms to grown in. Two extra rails allow the positioning of the drawers to be changed while the oak board provides an extra workspace.

Production Made

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The judges were so heartened by the quality of this year’s production made pieces that two projects won.

Planks Collection expresses the integrity of the material, using it in the most effective way and bringing rationality to its design. The judges felt this would work in a number of interiors and for different users.

  • Designer: Max Lamb
  • Maker/Manufacturer: Benchmark
  • Wood Supplier: Tyler Hardwoods
  • Wood Species: British Douglas Fir or European Oak

Designed by Max Lamb, Planks’ roots lie in the humble carpenter’s workbench and 17th/18th century English country furniture. The collection (a dining table, bench, shelving, console table and lounge table) promotes utility, strength, durability and economy of material. Easily accessible storage prevents clutter from gathering on work surfaces. Varying plank sizes have been used for each piece of furniture to minimise waste. Full-width planks are used as the defining feature. Narrower planks are joined to form structural rails to support the top. Four simple L-shaped legs, structurally strong yet physically light, connect to the side of the box and support the cantilevered top.

The other, equally placed, winner is Stretch Extending Dining Table. The judges were impressed by the way the design pushes the material, and by this elegant solution to a common problem.

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  • Designer: Pengelly Design
  • Maker/manufacturer: Stonebridge
  • Client/owner: Montis
  • Beech veneer supplier: Furnierwerk Laubach
  • Wood species: European beech, birch or oak

The Stretch Extending Dining Table was conceived to use the natural characteristics of formed ply. The form of the laminations enables the top to slide along a very simple metal frame, exposing the extension leaves stored within the table. First designed in 2003, the original was much smaller and less successful. The re-design in 2015 was based on overcoming issues with the movement of each lamination. The updated version is significantly larger due to these issues being resolved.

Student Designer

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Within this category were two cash prizes; £1,000 for winner and £500 for people’s choice.

Geometry was chosen as the winner of the Student Designer category. The judges said, “This table has its own definite aesthetic. It is solid and it works, using a system that does not involve any screws. It is a robust piece of furniture.”

  • Designer: Michael Stevenson
  • College/University: Building Crafts College
  • Wood Supplier: Blumsoms, Capital Crispin Veneer
  • Steel Supplier: Parker Steel
  • Wood Species: European Oak

Geometry is a modern circular dining table. The frame is inspired by molecular geometry, made with contemporary stainless steel rods and contrasting classic oak junctures. The table top consists of constructional oak veneer and solid oak lipping.

Velo Chair won the Student Designer People’s Choice Award. Throughout the summer and the London Design Festival the public was asked to choose its favourite student design on Twitter.

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  • Designer: Jan Waterston
  • College/University: Rycotewood Furniture Centre
  • Wood Supplier: Tyler Hardwoods, Mundy Veneer
  • Wood Species: English Ash

Inspired by the bicycle, the Velo Chair connects body and object by seamlessly wrapping itself around the user. Each surface is hand sculpted. Ash was selected for its flexibility, allowing the complex curves to be free-form laminated without breaking. The flexibility allows a more comfortable backrest which flexes and moulds around the sitter.

ABOUT THE WOOD AWARDS 2016

This year, The Wood Awards’ buildings judges shortlisted 20 projects across the country. Chaired by Michael Morrison, the panel consisted of Andrew Lawrence, John Wilkie, Jim Greaves, Hugh Pearman, Nathan Wheatley, Ruth Slavid and past Arnold Laver Gold Award winners Adam Richards and David Morley.

The furniture and product judges shortlisted 12 pieces. The specialist panel was led by Max Fraser and included Katie Walker, Corinne Julius, John Makepeace, Rod Wales and Ruth Aram.

The Awards’ elite independent judging panel of professional experts and specialists not only judged the submitted entries but visited the shortlisted projects in person, making the Wood Awards as meaningful and rigorous a competition as possible. The buildings visits took place over the summer whilst all of the shortlisted furniture and product designs were judged at 100% Design in September.

As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. Arnold Laver sponsor the Arnold Laver Gold Award. Major Sponsors are American Hardwood Export Council, Carpenters’ Company, Wood for Good and TRADA. Other sponsors include American Softwoods, British Woodworking Federation, Forestry Commission, Furniture Makers’ Company, Party Ingredients, Timber Trade Federation and 100% Design.