Wood Awards 2018 – Winners announced

The winners of the annual Wood Awards have been announced at a ceremony held on November 20, at Carpenters’ Hall in London hosted by David Hopkins, director of the Timber Trade Federation. Established in 1971, the Wood Awards is free to enter and aims to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood. Read on for in-depth descriptions of the projects.

Mears Group Gold Award
Commercial and Leisure Winner

The judges selected Storey’s Field Centre & Eddington Nursery as this year’s Mears Group Gold Award and Commercial and Leisure winner. Stephen Corbett, chair of this year’s buildings judging panel, said: “The best building rose to the top, for its winning combination of architectural merit, structural ingenuity and flawless execution.”

Location: Cambridge
Architect: MUMA
Client/owner: University of Cambridge
Structural engineer: Aecom
Main contractor: Farrans Construction
Joinery: C W Fields, M Borley & Sons Joinery
Glulam structure: n’H International Ltd
Spiral stair: Spiral UK Ltd, David Gilbert Joinery
Cedar shingle supplier: Marley Eternit
Wood supplier: Brooks Bros, D F Richards, James Latham
Wood species: American white ash, Canadian western red cedar, European oak, spruce

The 100-place nursery is arranged around three sides of a landscaped courtyard. On the fourth side, is the civic-scaled community centre including a 180-seat main hall. The principle rooms are lined in oak panelling. The main hall, influenced by the dining halls and chapels of Cambridge colleges, uses an exposed, articulated timber structure. The slender spruce glulam portal frames spring from the oak-panelled base and pass in front of a backdrop of ash veneered panelling; the tones of the timber gradually lightening up the height of the space. A structural ceiling of layered ash joists, battens and veneered plywood conceals air extract routes for the hall’s passive ventilation strategy. The hall provides a venue for a range of activities and its acoustics can be adjusted to suit. At the west end, an ash spiral stair is a sculptural element wrapped by a curved veneered ash plywood balustrade. The nursery’s turret roofed classrooms are clad in western red cedar as are the soffits to the covered nursery cloister.

Education and public sector

The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre houses a large lecture theatre, a student learning space, seminar rooms and a dance studio. Judge Ruth Slavid said: “This is a building of tremendous quality and atmosphere, where every detail has been thought through.”

Location: Oxford
Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects
Client/owner: Worcester College
Structural engineer: Price & Myers
Main contractor: Beard Construction
Joinery: Barn 6
Furniture: Benchmark, David Colwell Design
Timber flooring: Junckers
Wood supplier: Inwood Developments, Brooks Brothers
Wood species: European oak, Siberian larch

The project has developed and enhanced a significant part of the College’s site. The building is raised on a podium and has been designed as a theatre within a garden. A curved, stone auditorium opens directly onto an oak-ceilinged foyer that extends out to pergolas and terraces overlooking the cricket pitch. The theatre is framed by a high stone screen that rises to allow clerestory light into the space. It is surmounted by a pleated ceiling sweeping down to the stage. The space can operate as fully enclosed, darkened, or as a brightly lit environment. The dance studio stands at the end of a long serpentine lake that connects back to the ancient heart of the College.


Royal Academy of Music Theatre & New Recital Hall are two performance spaces that have been integrated within the Academy site. The judges praised the project’s wow-factor.

Location: London
Architect: Ian Ritchie Architects
Client/owner: Royal Academy of Music
Cost consultant: Equals Consulting
Structural engineer: WSP
Building services: Atelier Ten
Acoustic engineer: Arup
Stage theatre consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates
Lighting consultant: Ulrike Brandi Licht
Heritage consultant: Donald Insall Associates
Access consultant: Centre for Accessible Environments
Fire consultant: WSP Fire
Approved inspector: Approved Inspector Services
Client advisor: RISE
Main contractor: Geoffrey Osborne
Joinery: James Johnson & Co.
Specialist theatre electrics & lighting: Push The Button
Wood supplier: Hardwood Sales, Brooks Bros, Lathams
Wood species: North American cherry, European oak

The 309-seat cherry-lined Susie Sainsbury Theatre now forms the heart of the academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, it has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. Each acoustic treatment has its own graded detailing to blend the sound in all directions. Above the theatre, the 100-seat Angela Burgess Recital Hall provides 230m of additional space for student rehearsal, public performance and recording. The theatre is designed intimate and epic, whereas the Recital Hall is tranquil, calming and visually cool. The Recital Hall is entirely lined in pale, lime-washed European oak. Woven into the design are structural elements reminiscent of string instruments. Through an aperture of finely tuned ‘strings’, an oak-lined oculus floods the space with light and provides a central focus.


Old Shed New House is a timber-framed and clad home nestled within the landscape of North Yorkshire. Judge David Morley said that the project “seems perfectly suited to its owners: this building is simple and modest but also delicate and uplifting to visit.”

Location: North Yorkshire
Architect: Tonkin Liu
Structural engineer: Rodrigues Associates
Main contractor: Vine House Construction
Joinery: Image Developments Northern
Wood supplier: Arnold Laver
Wood species: Siberian larch, Latvian birch, Scandinavian spruce

An existing agricultural shed has been transformed into a gallery for a lifetime collection of books and art. The steel portal frame and ground-slab have been enlarged and infilled with a new timber frame clad in varied widths of shot-blasted timber and galvanised steel. The landscape is drawn into the building’s two double-height volumes through large axial openings. A long gallery entices visitors in. The spacious library is wrapped by a modestly sized living room and three bedrooms. Behind the long gallery, a thick wall conceals the staircase, utility room and storage. The environmental approach was to create a highly insulated and airtight building that follows the passivhaus strategy. Timber solar louvres were integrated into the cladding system to limit solar gain.

Small Project

Look! Look! Look! is a pavilion within a 18th century walled garden originally designed by Georgian landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The judges praised the project’s sense of fun.

Location: Berrington Hall, Leominster
Architect: Studio Morison
Artists: Ivan Morison, Heather Peak
Client/owner: The National Trust
Structural engineer: Artura
Wood supplier/CNC Cutting: WUP Doodle
Wood species: Birch ply, Douglas fir

The birch ply and fabric structure is a contemporary version of the follies or ‘eyecatchers’ featured in 18th and 19th century landscaping. The sculptural form is based on a rectangle of paper that has been folded in a way that gives it structural stability and creates a sense of shelter. The most important aspect of the work was to create a sense that the final form had been folded into place, and that the edges were sharp. The artists opted to use engineered ply, cut using a five axis CNC, to create the individual components later to be assembled in the workshop. The structure is made of 90 rhomboid timber cassettes with fabric pulled over and invisibly fixed to each.

Structural Award

This year’s Structural Award winner is The Macallan Distillery & Visitor Experience, chosen from all the shortlisted buildings. Judge, Nathan Wheatley, commented: “This unique roof unites architecture and engineering to create one of the UK’s largest timber structures in the UK, and is the crowning glory of the new distillery.”

Location: Charlestown of Aberlour, Scotland
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Client/owner: Edrington
Structural engineer: Arup
Main contractor: Robertson
Installation: L&S Baucon GmbH
Joinery/wood Supplier: Wiehag
Wood species: Norway spruce

The Macallan is built on an estate that has been creating single malt whisky since 1824. The scheme’s five domes mirror the surrounding landscape but also allow height for the stratification and exhaust of hot air. A 3x3m lattice of beams is imposed orthogonally on the form-found shell of the roof. This approach allows for structural robustness and gives space for increased shear capacity. The timber is reinforced with steel to act compositely where needed. All the timber elements were fabricated in Austria using advanced CNC machinery. The roof is 207m long and has an area of 13,620m2. The roof package comprised 350,000 separate pieces, including fixings, and almost every piece was different.

Judges’ Special Award

The Judges’ Special Award is discretionary. Woodland Classrooms, Belvue School stood out on the strength of its achievement for the schoolchildren who have been rewarded with an unforgettable, life-changing learning environment.

Location: Northolt
Architect: Studio Weave
Client/owner: Belvue School
Structural engineer: Timberwright
Main contractor: IMS Building Solutions
M&E consultant: Arup
Project managers: Jackson Coles
Roofing sub-contractor: VMZinc
Wood supplier: T. Brewer
Wood species: Western red cedar (Canada)

Belvue School is a secondary school for students with moderate to severe learning difficulties and a range of other needs. 150m2 of intimate extracurricular spaces with domestic quality have been built on a modest budget. The boundary between the playground and adjacent woodland was identified as the border between familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world beyond, with the new woodland classrooms acting as a gatehouse. ‘Cosy Lounge’ is used for workshops and engaging with the woodland, as well as being a calm private sensory space when required. ‘Sociable Kitchen’ includes a café and group dining. ‘Messy Barn’ allows all-weather outdoor learning. Through encouraging students to adopt extra responsibilities and be more autonomous the school nurtures their social, emotional and personal development. The concave ceiling creates an intimate scale which opens up to clerestory windows as you move towards the centre of the room. The stack effect allows the spaces to be entirely naturally ventilated.