Wood Awards 2017 – Shortlist for Buildings: Education & public sector

A 68-room hall of residence and a centre offering practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer are among the 20 structures shortlisted for the Buildings categories of the Wood Awards 2017.

Established in 1971, the Wood Awards aim to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.

The judging panel, led by architect Michael Morrison of Purcell, visited all the projects as part of the shortlisting process.

The awards are split into two main categories: buildings and furniture & product. Within the buildings competition there are five subcategories: commercial  & leisure, education & public sector, interiors, private and small project.

The shortlisted projects for education & public sector are as follows:

Cowan Court

Location: Cambridge

Architect: 6a architects

Client/Owner: Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Timber  Engineer: B&K Structures Ltd, Engenuiti

Main Contractor/Builder: SDC Builders LTD

Window Joinery: Flexwood

Facade  Consultant: Harry Montresor Partnership

Wood Supplier: Bartram Timber Ltd, BCA Materiaux Anciens

Wood Species: European Whitewood Spruce, EuropeanOak, Tulipwood


Cowan Court is  a 68-room hall of residence for Churchill College. Three storeys of student bedrooms are arranged around an inner square court, echoing the original Sheppard Robson buildings. Rather than a traditional grass quad, the court is filled with densely planted birch trees. The board marked concrete found in traditional courts has been replaced by dark timber reclaimed from French railway carriages. The brown weathered boards blend harmoniously with the red-brown tones of the original blockwork. This patina is offset by windows of a new, lighter joinery oak. The structure of the building is made of laminated soft wooden beams and posts which remain exposed in most areas.

The GlaxoSmithKline carbon neutral laboratories for sustainable chemistry

Location: Nottingham

Architect: Fairhursts Design Group

Client/Owner: University of Nottingham

Structural Engineer: Engenuiti, Aecom

Main Contractor/Builder: Morgan Sindall

Joinery Company: B&K  Structures

Timber Cladding Specialist: Forestside

Wood Supplier: Binderholz

Wood Species: German Spruce, Austrian Spruce, American Red Cedar


This project provides an environment for sustainable chemistry over two-storeys.  Achieving carbon neutrality was the single most important driver in the design, material selection and form of construction. Constructed with a glulam timber frame, the building is finished with western red cedar boarding and single-fired terracotta rain screen cladding. The selection of CLT for  the floor structure enabled large structural bays to be formed rapidly and              the stringent vibration criteria for the laboratory to be met. CLT panels were also used to form the roof deck, exterior walls, and internal divisions. Inside, lightweight partitions form cellular spaces, which are fully adaptable. Four prefabricated glulam and CLT extraction ‘horns’, fabricated off-site, were fitted to the ridge of the building maximising natural ventilation and fume extraction.


Maggie’s Oldham

Location: Oldham

Architect: dRMM

Client/Owner: Maggie’s

Structural Engineer: Booth King UK

Timber Advice & Procurement Liaison: American Hardwood Export Council

Main Contractor/Builder: Parkinson Building Contractors

Structural Timber Subcontractor: Züblin TimberWood Supplier

Machining of Fluted Cladding: Morgan   Timber

Window Manufacturer: Falegnameria Aresi

Wood Supplier: Middle  Tennessee Lumber (Tulipwood)

Wood Species: American Tulipwood, American White Oak


Built in  the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres offer free practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer. Supported on slender columns, Maggie’s Oldham floats above a garden framed by pine, birch and tulip  poplar trees. From a central oasis, a tree grows up through the building, which is the first permanent building constructed from sustainable tulipwood CLT, following on from dRMM and AHEC’s development of the material. The tulipwood has been carefully detailed to bring out its natural beauty. The slatted ceiling was created from wood left over from the CLT fabrication process, ensuring no waste. Externally the building is draped in  custom-fluted,  thermally modified tulipwood.


Wells Cathedral School

Location: Wells

Architect: Eric Parry Architects

Client/Owner: Wells Cathedral School

Structural Engineer: Momentum Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor/Builder: Shaylor

Joinery Company/Wood Supplier: Inwood Developments

Wood Species:  Beech


The new Cedars Hall provides professional-standard facilities for the Wells Cathedral School, which is renowned for its music.  These include flexible spaces for rehearsal and recording, a 350-capacity recital hall, and a foyer  with a bar. Within the hall, the stage, seating and acoustic wall panels can be adapted for various layouts with differing acoustic qualities suitable for a range of music styles and audience configurations. Exposed structural beams in the roof further enhance the acoustic performance of the space. Central to the scheme is the hall’s double-curved timber roof, formed of CNC-cut LVL ribs spanning in two directions. The range of panels housed within the coffered voids moderate sound as well as forming Cedars Hall’s aesthetically dramatic centrepiece.

The shortlist will be showcased at the London Design Fair (Stand B05, Hall T2), Old Truman Brewery, from 21 to 24 September. Winners will be revealed at the annual Wood Awards ceremony at Carpenters’ Hall on 21 November, by ceremony host Johanna Agerman Ross, founder of Disegno magazine and curator of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Furniture and Product Design at the V&A.


PICTURED – The GlaxoSmithKline carbon neutral laboratories for sustainable chemistry

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