The Wood Awards 2017: Excellence in British architecture and product design shortlist revealed

Twenty outstanding structures have been nominated for the Wood Awards 2017 shortlist, featuring some of Britain’s best architectural designs in wood. The judging panel, led by architect Michael Morrison of Purcell, visit all the shortlist projects in person, making this a uniquely rigorous competition. The shortlist will be showcased at the London Design Fair (Stand B05, Hall T2), Old Truman Brewery, 21st-24th September. Winners will be revealed at the annual Wood Awards ceremony at Carpenters’ Hall on 21st November, by ceremony host Johanna Agerman Ross, Founder of Disegno magazine and Curator of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Furniture and Product Design at the V&A.

Established in 1971, 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 Awards are free to enter and aim to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.

The Awards are split into two main categories: Buildings and Furniture & Product. Within the Buildings competition there are five subcategories: Commercial & Leisure, Education & Public Sector, Interiors, Private and Small Project.

Commercial & Leisure

1. Command of the Oceans

Location: Historic Dockyard Chatham

Architect: Baynes and Mitchell Architects

Client/Owner: Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

M&E Engineers: Skelly & Couch

Experiential Design: Land Design Studio

Project Management: Artelia UK

Main Contractor/Builder: W W Martin

Joinery Company & Wood Supplier: Egoin

Wood Species: German Whitewood Spruce

In 1995, the timbers of an unknown ship were discovered beneath the Historic Dockyard Chatham. Hailed as the most significant naval archaeological discovery since the Mary Rose, they became the focal point for a project that aimed to preserve and interpret the dockyard’s history. The scheduled monuments have been renovated and adapted for gallery, catering and retail spaces. A new visitor entrance building, knitted between the existing buildings connects hospitality areas with exhibition spaces and an under-croft gallery to view the timbers. The primary structure of elegant glu-laminated timber columns and trusses complements the heavy oak structures of the surrounding listed buildings.

2. The gateway buildings, Weald & Downland Living Museum

Location: Chichester

Architect: ABIR Architects

Client/Owner: Weald & Downland Living Museum

Structural Engineer: Cooper & Withycombe

Main Contractor/Builder: A&F Pilbeam Construction Ltd

Joinery Company: The Green Oak Carpentry Company Ltd

Wood Supplier: LBSA (Green Oak), KLH (CLT)

Steelwork: Solent Engineering

Wood Species: French Green Oak, Austrian Spruce, French Sweet Chestnut, English Chestnut

Weald & Downland Living Museum boasts a collection of over 50 vernacular buildings spanning 950 years, all rescued from destruction and re-erected in the Grade II* registered South Downs National Park. ABIR architects were commissioned to design a new 850sqm visitor centre consisting of retail, gallery, café and community spaces. The design connects the Museum to two new clusters of buildings set either side of a central entrance court forming a transitional gateway. The buildings are designed to be entirely timber, consisting of two primary elements; Green Oak frame and cross laminated timber (CLT). Other timber features include hand-cleft English chestnut roofing shakes, sweet chestnut cladding and natural wood-fibre insulation. Internally, sweet chestnut battens have been used to create the undulating kite roof.

3. Hastings Pier

Location: Hastings

Architect: dRMM

Client/Owner: Hastings Pier Charity

Structural Engineer: Ramboll UK

Main Contractor/Builder: Hastings Pier Charity

CLT Manufacturer: KLH

Joinery Company: Timber Craft UK

Wood Supplier: Timber Craft UK, KLH

Wood Species: Austrian Spruce, Salvaged Pier Decking (Jarrah, Purple Heart, Green Heart

and Balau), African Ekki

The 2010 destruction of Hasting’s Pier by fire led to an opportunity of redefining what a 21st Century pier could be. dRMM’s re-design is a well-serviced platform that can support endless uses; from big-top circuses to international markets. A new visitor centre replaces the weakest central section of the damaged pier. The centre is a CLT structure clad in salvaged pier decking. Reclaimed timber deck furniture was designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling as part of a local employment initiative. The experience of free space and ‘walking on water’ is heightened by a louvered balustrade design and quality timber deck. The new pier offers flexibility, material and functional sustainability, and an uninterrupted vista of the natural and built surroundings of the special seaside town of Hastings.

4. Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre & Museum

Location: Helmsley

Architect: Simpson & Brown

Client/Owner: English Heritage

Structural Engineer: Dosser Group

Main Contractor/Builder: Simpson (York) Ltd

M&E: SDS Engineering Consultants

Quantity Surveyor: RNJ Partnership

Joinery Company/Wood Supplier: Cowley Timber & Partners

Wood Species: Scandinavian Spruce

Photography Credit: Giles Rocholl Photography

The aim of the project was to upgrade the museum building to meet modern curatorial standards, encourage visitors into the ruins, and improve facilities. A glulam spruce central hall has been inserted into the existing L-shaped timber visitor centre. Visually the new structural frame echoes the existing columns and arches of the abbey ruins. The frame gradually splays to reveal previously obscured views. The frames are connected by CLT sheeting at roof level and a perimeter edge beam containing concealed lighting and services. These panels are exposed where possible and stained to match the mainframe. The slot windows formed within the vertical CLT panels echo the local timber agricultural buildings and provide discreet views to the terrace. Off-site fabrication solved the problems of a restricted site and tight programme over winter.

Education & Public Sector 

1. Cowan Court

Location: Cambridge

Architect: 6a architects

Client/Owner: Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Timber Engineer: B&K Structures Ltd, Engenuiti

Main Contractor/Builder: SDC Builders LTD

Window Joinery: Flexwood

Facade Consultant: Harry Montresor Partnership

Wood Supplier: Bartram Timber Ltd, BCA Materiaux Anciens

Wood Species: European Whitewood Spruce, European Oak, Tulipwood

Cowan Court is a new, environmentally sound 68-room hall of residence for Churchill College, originally founded in 1958. Three storeys of student bedrooms are arranged around an inner square court, echoing the original  Sheppard Robson buildings. Rather than a traditional grass quad, the court is filled with densely planted birch trees which shelter an informal garden. The board marked concrete found in traditional courts has been replaced by dark timber reclaimed from French railway carriages. The brown weathered boards blend harmoniously with the red-brown tones of the original blockwork. This patina is offset by windows of a new, lighter joinery oak. The structure of the building is made of laminated soft wooden beams and posts which remain exposed in most areas, giving rhythm and natural depth to the interior and echoing the original buildings.

2. The Glaxosmithkline Carbon Neutral Laboratories For Sustainable Chemistry

Location: Nottingham

Architect: Fairhursts Design Group

Client/Owner: University of Nottingham

Structural Engineer: Engenuiti, Aecom

Main Contractor/Builder: Morgan Sindall

Joinery Company: B&K Structures

Timber Cladding Specialist: Forestside

Wood Supplier: Binderholz

Wood Species: German Spruce, Austrian Spruce, American Red Cedar

This project provides an environment for sustainable chemistry over two-storeys (4500m2) which is energy and resource efficient. Achieving carbon neutrality was the single most important driver in the design, material selection and form of construction. Constructed with a glulam timber frame, the building is finished with western red cedar boarding and single-fired terracotta rain screen cladding. The selection of CLT for the floor structure enabled large structural bays to be formed rapidly and the stringent vibration criteria for the laboratory to be met. CLT panels were also used to form the roof deck, exterior walls, and internal divisions. Inside, lightweight partitions form cellular spaces which are fully adaptable. Four large prefabricated glulam and CLT extraction ‘horns’, fabricated off-site, were fitted to the ridge of the building maximising natural ventilation and fume extraction.

3. Maggies Oldham

Location: Oldham

Architect: dRMM

Client/Owner: Maggie’s

Structural Engineer: Booth King UK

Timber Advice & Procurement Liaison: American Hardwood Export Council

Main Contractor/Builder: Parkinson Building Contractors

Structural Timber Subcontractor: Züblin TimberWood Supplier

Machining of Fluted Cladding: Morgan Timber

Window Manufacturer: Falegnameria Aresi

Wood Supplier: Middle Tennessee Lumber (Tulipwood)

Wood Species: American Tulipwood, American White Oak

Built in the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres offer free practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer. The design of Maggie’s Oldham is less about form and more about content. Supported on slender columns, the building floats above a garden framed by pine, birch and tulip poplar trees. From a central oasis, a tree grows up through the building, bringing nature inside. Maggie’s Oldham is the first permanent building constructed from sustainable tulipwood CLT, following on from dRMM and AHEC’s development of the material. The tulipwood has been carefully detailed to bring out its natural beauty. The slatted ceiling was created from wood left over from the CLT fabrication process, ensuring no waste. Externally the building is draped in custom-fluted, thermally modified tulipwood.

4. Wells Cathedral School

Location: Wells

Architect: Eric Parry Architects

Client/Owner: Wells Cathedral School

Structural Engineer: Momentum Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor/Builder: Shaylor

Joinery Company/Wood Supplier: Inwood Developments

Wood Species: Beech

Wells Cathedral School is renowned for its music. The new Cedars Hall provides professional-standard facilities for the school and community. These include flexible spaces for rehearsal and recording, a 350-capacity recital hall, and a foyer with a bar. Within the hall, the stage, seating and acoustic wall panels can be adapted for various layouts with differing acoustic qualities suitable for a range of music styles and audience configurations. Exposed structural beams in the roof further enhance the acoustic performance of the space. Central to the scheme is the hall’s double-curved timber roof, formed of CNC-cut LVL ribs spanning in two directions. The range of panels housed within the coffered voids moderate sound as well as forming Cedars Hall’s aesthetically dramatic centrepiece.


1. 1 New Burlington Place

Location: London

Architect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Client/Owner: The Crown Estate

Structural Engineer: Waterman Group

Main Contractor/Builder: Mace Group

Joinery Company: Brown & Carroll (London) Ltd

M&E Engineer: Watkins Payne Partnership

Development Manager: Exemplar Properties

Wood Supplier: Dinesen

Wood Species: European White Oak

1 New Burlington Place is a mixed development redeveloping a disparate series of buildings into a cohesively layered urban block. A pair of grade II listed Georgian townhouses are drawn into the scheme’s new plan, one transformed and incorporated into the adjacent retail unit and the other returned to a family home. The scheme comprises 79,000 square feet of office space over six floors, 33,000 square feet of retail space over three floors, as well as an enhanced public realm and an internal courtyard. Wood is the predominant material in the reception and office areas. European White Oak has been extensively used for fluted and bevelled edged wall panelling in the entrance lobby as well as for the stair and bridge leading to the first-floor offices.

2. House in Devon

Location: Dartmouth

Architect: 6a architects

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Main Contractor/Builder: JE Stacey

Joinery Company: Touchwood Joinery

Wood Supplier: Traditional Oak and Timber Co.

Wood Species: French Oak, British Douglas Fir, British Pine

House in Devon is an early-twentieth century family home with extensive views of the sea. The house has been transformed by stripping it back to its stone walls. Originally raised on a plinth above a basement, the groundfloor has been lowered to the level of the ground. This has increased the size of the rooms and created tall, elongated openings to the outside. A series of oak beams make up the exposed primary structure. The internal spaces have been completely reconfigured. Three floors on the north end of the house connect to two floors on the south. Each space has a distinct volume and ceiling height, with the central stair offering clear views through the whole house. Tapered oak verticals are used as supports throughout, including primary drawing room columns, external veranda posts and the stair spindles.

3. Nautilus

Location: London

Architect: Hassan Nourbakhsh (Borheh)

Client: Janey de Nordwall

Structural Engineer: Blue Engineering

Joinery Company/Wood Supplier: Aldworth James & Bond

Photography: Adam Brown

Wood Species: European Birch

Nautilus is a spiral staircase developed as a dynamic design statement for a residential refurbishment. The minimalist hollow stair is formed from 180 unique pieces of ply, CNC cut and assembled on site with no visible connections. Hidden within the stringer and core are over 300 oak dowels specified to keep the layers of ply from delaminating under tensile loads. Each tread is made up from 10 layers of 18mm thick plywood. The treads were assembled on site utilising the hollow nature of the stair to clamp and bolt the treads whilst the glue dried. Each step has been finished with a plywood insert designed to be removable and replaceable in case the client ever wanted a different finish.

4. Oak lined house

Location: London

Architect: Knox Bhavan Architects LLP

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Main Contractor/Builder: Aakash Builders Limited

Joinery Company: TinTab, Five Furniture, Ian Dunn Woodwork & Design

Wood Supplier: Mundy Veneer Limited, Wenban-Smith Ltd

Wood Species: European Oak, European Birch

 This dark and compartmentalised Victorian terraced house has been reconfigured to transform it into a light and airy home. All internal, and rear external walls were removed at lower ground floor level to create open plan spaces that spill out into the garden. Oak veneered joinery lines the walls to conceal structural supports and building services, whilst maximising functionality and storage. The cantilevered solid oak treads of the new staircase appear to balance on the joinery below. Flip-down dressing tables and desks, and wardrobe pocket doors concealing the client’s AV equipment, were designed for upstairs. At raised ground floor level, veneered oak joinery ‘floats’ off the floor on either side of a large glass fire screen providing hallway storage and bookshelves. Further up, oak veneered study doors open to become wall linings allowing light to flood through to the staircase.


1. The Crow’s Nest

Location: Dorset

Architect: AR Design Studio

Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan

Main Contractor/Joinery Company: Mew Developments

Wood Supplier: Russwood

Wood Species: Siberian Larch

The clients required additional space, however, concerns about movement in the land led AR Design Studio to replace the existing house rather than build an extension. A floating structural frame, which acts as an adjustable raft in case of future movement, has been laid on top of dwarf walls built on a concrete slab. The design concept, formed on the idea of movement and fracturing, starts as a traditional cabin that splits, twists and rotates into four pods. The outcome is a beautifully haphazard larch clad house against a wooded backdrop. The defined entrance pod leads into the central pod where kitchen, dining and living room are situated. Extensive sliding glass offers uninterrupted views of the English Channel beyond a floating timber deck.

2. Hampshire Passivhaus

Location: Hampshire

Architect: Ruth Butler Architects

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Main Contractor/Joinery Company: Nicholas Coppin Ltd

CLT Manufacturer: KLH UK Ltd

Building Services Engineer: Cundall

Landscape Design: John Brooks Landscape Design

Wood Supplier: Timbmet

Wood Species: Europe Spruce, Europe Oak, Siberian Larch

Hampshire Passivhaus is a self-build home on the south coast. It is an L-shaped detached dwelling, creating private courtyard spaces, on a tight brownfield site with multiple neighbours. Spruce CLT panels form the entire super structure, walls, floors and roof. The spruce panels give a tactile and harmonious quality to the living spaces and bedrooms. The prefabricated CLT superstructure was complete and watertight in just four days. European oak bespoke joinery is used to highlight interior features including the open tread staircase, recessed handrails, worktops and integrated shelves. Externally, the house is clad in Siberian larch rainscreen cladding, chosen for its straight grain, uniform texture and durability. The untreated larch ages over a short period of timeto become silver, providing a maintenance free finish well suited to the coast.

3. Stepping Stone House

Location: Maidenhead

Architect: Hamish and Lyons

Structural Engineer: Momentum

Main Contractor/Builder: R J Clyde Ltd

Joinery Company: Woodside Ridell

Wood Supplier: Exterior Decking

Wood Species: European Larch, European Oak, West African Iroko

Disconnected, under-used and flood-prone out-buildings have been redeveloped to form additional living accommodation for the existing house situated on a heavily constrained site. The design seeks to connect the family with the calming effects of nature through the use of daylight, organic structure and natural materials. The smaller of the two new buildings is a self contained guest house. The larger building, connected to the existing house via a structural glass bridge, is a multifunctional space primarily used as a playroom. Stilts elevate the buildings above the lake, lifting them clear of the flood waters and allowing flush access to the existing house. Much of the building was pre-fabricated, allowing a brief construction period.

4. Woodman’s Treehouse

Location: West Dorset

Architect: Brownlie Ernst and Marks Limited

Client: Guy Mallinson Woodland Workshop and Crafty Camping

Structural Engineer: Ecos Maclean

Joinery Company/Wood Supplier: Guy Mallinson Woodland Workshop

Wood Species: English Douglas Fir, Cedar, Sweet Chestnut, Oak and Larch

Woodsman’s Treehouse is a two-person residential retreat at Crafty Camping & Woodland Workshop, a rural campus offering green woodworking courses and accommodation in a woodland. It was self-built by a team of skilled furniture makers and green wood craftsmen. The playful construction, arranged around an aged oak, is in harmony with its surroundings. The modest elevated house is arranged around a cylindrical living space concealed within an octagonal drum externally clad in alternating stripes of Douglas fir and cedar which are weathering to form a chevron pattern. The secondary rooms, plugged around its perimeter, are clad in different timber species and cuts. The treehouse is approached across a sloping site via a boardwalk and entered through a burnt oak entrance door.

Small Projects

1. Belarusian Memorial Chapel

Location: London

Architect: Spheron Architects

Client: The Holy See of Rome

Structural Engineer: Timberwright Ltd

Environmental/M&E Engineer: Arup

Joinery Company: T Clark & Co Joinery Ltd

Quantity Surveyor/Cost Consultant: Change Project Consulting

Wood Supplier: Egoin UK, East Bros Timber Ltd

Wood Species: British & Canadian Douglas Fir, Spanish Radiata Pine, Canadian Western Red Cedar

This 70 m² project is the first wooden chapel to be built in London since the Great Fire of 1666. Built for the Belarusian diaspora community in the UK, it is dedicated to the memory of victims of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Timber serves as a reminder of the loss of many wooden Belarusian settlements. A series of contemporary elements have been introduced to the basic traditional form, such as the undulating timber frill of the flank walls which enlivens the exterior. The principal structure uses Douglas Fir, chosen for its appearance, reduced drying shrinkage and ability to yield very large structural sections. The frame was fabricated and erected to an exacting tolerance of 2mm in order to accurately interface with the Radiata Pine CLT panels. All timber is self-finished and external timbers will weather naturally. The overall appearance is of a wholly timber-made building.

2. Feilden Fowles Studio

Location: London

Architect/Client: Feilden Fowles Architects

Structural Engineer: Structure Workshop

Main Contractor/Builder: Miles Builders

Joinery Company: Timber Workshop

Window Supplier: West Leigh

Landscape Design: Dan Pearson Studio

Wood Supplier: S H Somerscales Ltd

Wood Species: British Douglas Fir

Feilden Fowles master-planned Waterloo City Farm from the design of animal pens, sheltered outdoor classroom and barn, to their new studio which was offered in exchange for their design services. The positioning of the studio against the north boundary creates a south-facing courtyard garden. The timber frame structure clad with corrugated Onduline sheets, can be dismantled and re-erected when the lease comes to an end. The materiality and approach are redolent of agricultural building forms. To the north the timber frame projects at high level to articulate large lights which run the full length of the space, referencing traditional artist studios and providing generous diffuse light and cross ventilation. The long south elevation is articulated by steel T-columns and full-height glazing shaded by the overhanging roof. The 1830mm column grid and 2440mm datum running around the ply-lined interior, demonstrates how proportions have been carefully calibrated to minimise cuts and waste.

3. Saw-Mill Shelter

Location: Beaminster

Architect: Architectural Association Design and Make students

Client: Architectural Association Hooke Park

Structural Engineer: Arup

Wood Species: British Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and Larch

The Saw-mill Shelter, located in the Architectural Association estate, was designed and built by students with the help of the school faculty and Arup engineers. The shelter is a lightweight anticlastic timber net spanning nearly 11 metres, made up of timber laths only 38x38mm in section. To avoid imperfections, the laths were assembled from short sections using a glued finger-jointed scarfed splice. Each lath carries up to two tonnes of tension, demonstrating the remarkable strength of wood. Before construction a digital model was developed and analysed with form-finding techniques. Once the forces from the model were evaluated each fabricated lath was tested to the force that it would have to withstand with a large factor of safety. Once tested the laths were put into position and carefully stressed from the two ends in order to reach the final configuration. One of the supporting sides of the timber net is composed by an array of large steam-bent trunks. The roof surface is clad with aluminium sheet panels backed by plywood.

4. The Smile

Location: Chelsea College of Arts, London

Architect: Alison Brooks Architects

Client: American Hardwood Export Council/London Design Festival

Structural Engineer: Arup

CLT Manufacturer: MERK Timber GmbH, Züblin Timber

Main Contractor/Joinery Company: Aldworth James & Bond

Lighting Designer: SEAM

Balustrade Joinery: John Stidworthy

Wood Supplier: Various

Wood Species: American Tulipwood

Conceived as a habitable arc, The Smile was a 3.5m high, 4.5m wide and 34m long curved timber tube that cantilevered 12m in two directions with viewing platforms at both ends. Up to 60 visitors could enter at one time through an opening where the arc touched the ground. Innovative solutions using long screws were developed, allowing the opening to be in the most highly stressed region. The Smile was the first project in the world to use large hardwood CLT panels, the entire structure was made from just 12 tulipwood panels, each up to 14m long and 4.5m wide. The CLT panels were connected with 7,000 self-tapping screws. At the base, a glulam timber cradle filled with 20 tonnes of steel counterweights, allowed the project to be self-supporting. Perforations in the walls, concentrated in areas where there was less stress in the structure, brought dappled sunlight into the interior and dispersed where the timber was structurally working harder.


As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. Arnold Laver sponsors the Arnold Laver 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, TRADA and the London Design Fair.

Other Sponsors include American Softwoods, Forestry Commission, Timber Trade Federation, Wood for Good and Furniture Makers’ Company.