Wood Award winners announced

By Elspeth Pridham
December 2, 2020

The winners of the annual Wood Awards have been announced. The judges have selected six structures and three products that represent the best of British architecture and product design in wood.

Established in 1971, the Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in wood design. The competition is free to enter and aims to encourage and promote outstanding timber design, craftsmanship and installation.

Gold Award

The judges chose The Rye Apartments as this year’s Gold Award and Private category winner. The Gold Award is given to the winner of winners. Judge Jim Greaves said, “Tikari Works have taken a gamble and done something very unusual and it’s paid off, the apartments are very popular.”

Architect for The Rye Apartments, Tikari Works, created a development of ten sustainable apartments driven by two key considerations; how to resist standardised or default positions within housing design, and how to minimise the materials, embodied carbon and cost. Exposed CLT was used for the superstructure and all the internal walls and staircases.

Commercial & Leisure

The Commercial & Leisure winner is Frindsbury Manor Barn, restored by the Heritage design & Development Team. The judges admired the attention to detail and scale of the conservation project.

The Grade 1 listed medieval barn in Rochester, originally built in 1403, was damaged by fire in 2003. At 210 feet long it is the longest barn in the UK. A third of the barn was re-built in locally sourced green oak. The project was based on the fundamental principles of conservation: ‘maintain as much of the historic fabric as possible whist ensuring the building has a viable future use’.

Education & Public Sector

Swimming Pool Hall at King’s College School, Wimbledon, from David Morley Architects, was selected as the Education & Public Sector winner. Judge Kirsten Haggart said, “The different timber elements all have the same white-washed tone and coordinate perfectly with the reinforced concrete columns, creating a beautiful place which has an intimacy that most pools lack.”


The Interiors winner is Brockeridge Stair.  Judge Ruth Slavid said, “This is a very beautiful and impressive stair. In addition, there is a great story in that it was used to pioneer an approach to the use of BIM in joinery manufacture that is the recipient of ongoing government grants.”

This prototype staircase is part of a UK government funded R&D project to enable digital fabrication directly from BIM modelling environments. The stair rises three floors and is cantilevered from flush mounted stringers. The staircase design and joinery were undertaken by Future joinery systems.

Small Project

This year’s Small Project winner is Wooden Roof. The judges were impressed by the light and airy garden room from Tsuruta Architects and were particularly interested in the process of design through to construction.

The conservatory, built for an existing Grade 2 listed house, sits in a north-facing garden. The roof profile had to be pitched shallow to ensure it sits below the existing boundary wall. The roof also needed to be well-drained. One solid piece of wood, enclosed by four seasons glazing units, forms the entire structure and acts as the building’s envelope, structure, insulation and cladding.

Structural Award

This year’s Structural Award winner is the National Automotive Innovation Centre in Coventry, chosen from all the shortlisted buildings. The architect was Cullinan Studio and Structural judge Nathan Wheatley said, “We were looking for a scheme that has challenged the engineer, where the concept has been delivered in spite of that challenge and where the resultant structure is in some way integral to the success (and architecture) of the building.”

Bespoke Furniture

The Furniture & Product judges selected two winners within the Bespoke category.

Duo from Studio Woodgate and Benchmark Furniture, were awarded for their elegance, simplicity and exemplary craftsmanship.

The deceptively delicate sofas were designed for Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive of The Royal Opera House. The approach was to create something more comfortable than a bench but not as soft as a sofa. The seat and back have a solid timber frame the seats are upholstered in tan leather.

The Beehave by Marlene Huissoud was recognised for being unusual and for the attention to detail that went into the making of it. The judges also praised that it is a fully functioning beehive and not just a sculptural piece.

The Science Museum commissioned Marlène Huissoud to create the beehive to feature in a new permanent gallery focused on the future of agriculture.

Production furniture

Tenon Table is the Production winner. The judges admired the design, from Daniel Schofield, and were particularly impressed by how well balanced the tables are.

Schofield took a pragmatic approach to the design. Material was removed where it was not needed, leaving the base weighted and stable which naturally creates the joint for the top. The oversized wedged tenon becomes a focal point which highlights the construction of the piece and the quality of craftsmanship.

You can find out more about the Wood Awards including a list of this year’s judges here

Images show: Brockeridge Stair, Duo seat, Tenon tables