2017 Wood Awards

6a Architects, dRMM, Alison Brooks Architects and Feilden Fowles are among this year’s winners


Arnold Laver Gold Award and Interiors winner

Coastal House at Dartmouth, Devon, by 6a Architects, has been awarded the Arnold Laver Gold Award – the winner of winners – as well as the Interiors award. An early-twentieth century house, with extensive views of the sea, has been stripped it back to its stone walls, and its ground floor lowered, increasing the dimensions of the rooms and allowing tall, elongated openings to the outside. A series of oak beams make up the exposed primary structure, within which the interior spaces have been completely reconfigured. Three floors at the north side of the house connect to two floors at the south. Each space has a distinct volume and ceiling height, with the central stair offering views through the whole house. Tapered oak verticals are used as supports throughout, including the primary drawing room columns, external veranda posts and the stair spindles.

Architect: 6a Architects, structural engineer: Price & Myers, main contractor: JE Stacey, joinery: Touch Design Group, wood supplier: Traditional Oak & Timber Co, wood species: French Oak, British Douglas Fir, British Pine.


Commercial & Leisure

Simpson & Brown’s Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre & Museum – the Commercial & Leisure winner – creates an abstract, numinous space using timber as an expressed structure. The aim was to upgrade the existing museum building to meet modern curatorial standards, encourage visitors to 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, which splays to reveal previously obscured views, is joined 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 main frame. Slot windows, formed within the vertical CLT panels, echo local timber agricultural buildings and provide discreet views to the terrace. Off-site fabrication helped alleviate the issues of a restricted site and tight programme over the winter season.

Architect: Simpson & Brown, client: English Heritage, structural: Dosser Group, main contractor: Simpson (York), M&E: SDS Engineering Consultants, qs: RNJ Partnership, joinery/wood supplier: Cowley Timber & Partners, wood species: Scandinavian Spruce, photography: Giles Rocholl Photography.


Education & Public Sector

Maggie’s Oldham cancer centre – the Education & Public Sector winner – is a raised timber box punctured by a generous central glazed lightwell. Architect dRMM’s building is supported on slender columns above a garden framed by pine, birch and tulip poplar trees. From a central oasis, a tree grows up through the building, seemingly bringing nature inside. Maggie’s Oldham is the first permanent building constructed from CLT made from sustainable tulipwood. The slatted ceilings use wood left over from the CLT fabrication process, ensuring no waste. Externally the building is draped in custom-fluted, thermally modified tulipwood.

Architect: dRMM, client: Maggie’s, structural engineer: Booth King UK, timber advice and procurement: American Hardwood Export Council, main contractor: F Parkinson; structural timber subcontractor: Züblin Timber, machining of fluted cladding: Morgan Timber, windows: Falegnameria Aresi, cost consultant: Robert Lombardelli Partnership, wood supplier: Middle Tennessee Lumber, Morgans Timber, Northland Forest Products (NFL), wood species: American Tulipwood, American White Oak, American Ash, American Black Walnut, photography: Alex de Rijke, dRMM.



Winner of the Private category – Hampshire Passivhaus – is a self-build home on the south coast designed by Ruth Butler Architects. The L-shaped detached dwelling is built around private courtyard spaces on a tight brownfield site with multiple neighbours. Spruce CLT panels form the entire superstructure, walls, floors and roof. The spruce panels give a tactile, harmonious quality to the living spaces and bedrooms. The prefabricated CLT superstructure was erected and made 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 time to become silver, providing a maintenance-free finish suited to the coastal setting.

Architect: Ruth Butler Architects, structural engineer: Price & Myers, main contractor and joinery: Nicholas Coppin, CLT: KLH UK, building services: Cundall Wood, supplier: Timbmet, wood species: European Spruce, European Oak, Siberian Larch.


Small Project

Feilden Fowles’ Studio – the Small Project winner – was praised for its simple yet beautifully thought through design. Feilden Fowles designed Waterloo City Farm – from animal pens to a sheltered outdoor classroom – and added its own studio, the site for which was offered in exchange for its design services. The materiality and approach are redolent of agricultural building forms, while 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. To the north the timber frame projects at high level to allow large lights which run the full length of the space, providing diffuse daylight and cross ventilation. The long south elevation is articulated by steel T-columns and full-height glazing, shaded by the overhanging roof. The proportions have been calibrated to minimise cuts and waste, hence the 1830mm column grid and 2440mm datum running around the ply-lined interior.

Architect, client: Feilden Fowles Architects, structural engineer: Structure Workshop, main contractor: Miles Builders, joinery: Timber Workshop; wood supplier: SH Somerscales; wood species: British Douglas Fir.


Structural Award

Alison Brooks Architects’ The Smile – the Structural Award winner – entails some impressive and complex engineering. A temporary structure at Chelsea College of Art for the 2017 London Design Festival, 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 a 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, with the entire structure 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.

Architect: Alison Brooks Architects, client: American Hardwood Export Council/London Design Festival, structural engineer: Arup, CLT manufacturer: MERK Timber, Züblin Timber, main contractor: Aldworth James & Bond, lighting designer: SEAM, balustrade joinery: John Stidworthy, wood species: American Tulipwood.

Other Awards

The winner of the Bespoke category was ‘Time and Texture’ by Eleanor Lakelin, an installation forming part of ‘A Landscape of Objects’, a site-specific exhibition in the gardens of Forde Abbey, curated by Flow Gallery for Somerset Art Works. The Production Made award went to the Narin Chair by David Irwin, a folding chair that doesn’t comprise on aesthetics or comfort. The Student Designer prize went to Mark Laban of Central Saint Martins for Rustic Stool 1.0, and the People’s Choice Award to Damian Robinson for the Hex Drinks Cabinet. Sponsors of the Wood Awards are American Hardwood Export Council, the Carpenters’ Company, TRADA and the London Design Fair, plus American Softwoods, Forestry Commission, Timber Trade Federation, Wood for Good, the Furniture Makers’ Company and Party Ingredients.


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