Six structures and two product designs have been announced as the Wood Awards 2021 winners at a ceremony on
25th November held at The Building Centre in 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.
GOLD AWARD WINNER EDUCATION & PUBLIC SECTOR WINNER
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.”
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 & cladding: Piper Joinery Limited
Internal timber doors & 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 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
Joinery: Timber Workshop
Wood supplier: East Brothers
Cladding & Windows: Lea & Micklethwaite
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.
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.”
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. The 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.
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.”
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 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 & wood supplier: BPJ Group
Timber Distributor: International Timber
Roof engineering and installation: Fabrite
Concrete: Moore Concrete Products
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 Structural Award winner is The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater, chosen from all the shortlisted
buildings. Judge Andrew Lawrence comments, “An important new public building that uses the well detailed
timber structure as the centrepiece of the architecture. The structural solution for the necessary long
spans and openness, whilst creating a warm and dramatic interior space.”
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
Roof manufacturer/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.
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/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. The wooden curtain is hung on a hinged, three panelled oak frame with hemp rope and cleats and can be height adjusted. The form is dictated by how the tile construction hangs over the supporting uprights, like a sail held by a mast. 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 displays the many wonderful ways that timber responds to its environment.
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.
The buildings judging panel is led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects. The panel 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. The panel 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. Major Sponsors are American Hardwood Export Council, Binderholz, The Carpenters’ Company and Timber Development UK. Other Sponsors include American Softwoods.