A private residence, a cultural institution, a temporary modular structure, a quirky set of cabinets and a sleek, long bench were among the winners of the Wood Awards 2019, and they all incorporate American hardwood.
The winners of the annual Wood Awards were announced at a ceremony held on 19 November at Carpenters’ Hall in London. Established in 1971, the Wood Awards aims to recognize and encourage outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.
MultiPly (U.S. tulipwood) by Waugh Thistleton Architects won the Small Projects category; the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House by Stanton Williams was recognized in the Commercial & Leisure category (U.S. walnut); David Gates’ Littoral Chances 1&2 cabinets (U.S. hard maple) won in the Bespoke category; and the sleek Long Bench (U.S. walnut) designed by Ian McChesney is this year’s Production winner. Finally, the judges selected Cork House as this year’s Gold Award, the overall winner, and Private category winner.
The American Hardwood Export Council’s European Director, David Venables, said: “This is such a wonderful recognition of American hardwoods. All of these projects show the capabilities of hardwoods and, whether the material is used in a building capacity or in furniture, its versatility and beauty function in the way the designers’ intended”.
GOLD AWARD & PRIVATE - Cork House
Cork House is built almost entirely from cork and timber. Monolithic walls and corbelled roof pyramids are built with load-bearing expanded cork made from the bark of the cork oak tree, a by-product from wine stoppers. Conceived as a prefabricated kit-of-parts, blocks of expanded cork were CNC-machined off-site and then assembled on-site by hand without mortar or glue. All 1,268 pure cork blocks will be available at end-of-building-life as either biological or technical nutrients. A CLT floor platform, finished with oak floorboards, rests on Accoya beams supported on steel screw piles. Accoya is also used for the bespoke doors, windows and external steps. Western red cedar weatherboarding is used on the roof and rear façade. All internal built-in joinery and loose furniture is made from spruce. Internally, the exposed cork and timber create a rich, evocative, sensory environment. Judge Ruth Slavid comments, “This is a really exciting project. Not just a house, it is also a piece of research”.
SMALL PROJECT - MultiPly
MultiPly is the first structure made from UK manufactured CLT. The judges praised its simple design that communicates modularity and repetition. MultiPly is a carbon neutral engineered timber pavilion, made from hardwood CLT. The vertical maze of stacked modules and staircases creates labyrinthine spaces which intertwine, inviting people to explore the use of wood in architecture and reflect on how we build our homes and cities. MultiPly demonstrates how engineered timber structures can be reconfigured, reused, repurposed and ultimately recycled. The pavilion has been shown in three locations, each iteration taking a different form. The unassuming assembly of modules belies the engineering challenges created by the thinness of panels, significant cantilevers, and the complexity of designing a structure that can be reduced to a set of parts. MultiPly provided an opportunity to push the boundaries of CLT construction. Like a piece of flat-packed furniture, it arrives as a kit of parts and can be quietly assembled in under a week.
COMMERCIAL & LEISURE - Royal Opera House
The transformation of the Royal Opera House reimagines the world-renowned home of ballet and opera and strikes the right balance between heritage and 21st century life. Improved access and transparency, a completely new Linbury Theatre and new foyers, terraces, cafes, bars, restaurant and retail facilities extend the building’s life outside of performance hours. At entrance level, subtle timber elements inlaid in the stone floor offer a warm welcome. Descending into the double-height Linbury Theatre foyer, the atmosphere becomes more intimate and theatrical as exquisitely book matched veneer surfaces are complemented by elegant linear grids of timber batons and solid wood parquet. The Linbury Theatre is entirely clad in black walnut, inspired by the rich cherry cladding in the main 1858 Opera House auditorium. Lights, acoustic insulation and sound equipment are integrated within the timber. The judges admired how the new design reads as a complete building, yet seamlessly connects with the main spaces of the existing building.
BESPOKE - Littoral Chances 1&2
David Gates’s Littoral Chances 1&2 received an award for its singular vision and how it highlights just how much a material can be adapted to the individual’s style.
PRODUCTION - Long Bench
These highly crafted benches are made in two sizes. The gallery bench is designed to sit in the middle of a room and is 900mm deep to allow for sitting on both sides. The foyer bench is designed to sit at the edge of the room and is 600mm deep to allow for sitting on one side only. The gently pillowed top and bottom give the benches a very natural feel. They are carved initially on a 5 axis CNC machine and then assembled and finished by hand to create the elegant edge profile. They are finished with hand applied natural hard wax oils to keep the timber looking and feeling as natural as possible.