Nov 23
Private Sector winners 2023

Spruce House & Studio named UK’s best new timber home

‘Contemporary, calm and monastic’ – this East-London timber home designed by ao-ft has won the top prize for the Private category at this year’s Wood Awards.

This newly built East London home and self-contained garden studio celebrates the beauty and sustainable nature of cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is used for both structure and interior finishing, to breathe new life into an otherwise constrained urban environment.

Within this infill site in Walthamstow, generous open spaces have been able to rise through a narrow Victorian footprint, through careful, considered designs. The primary structure uses custom-milled, prefabricated CLT panels, lifted into place, while built-in timber joinery creates seamless uncluttered interiors.

With a lowered ground floor and clear views into the surrounding area, the designers create a strong connection to the garden where a studio is constructed using the same principles as the house.

Referencing the area’s historic origins as a village high street, a front façade of full-width glazing, broken down by full height glulam mullions, creates a contemporary interpretation of nearby Victorian shop fronts. Daylight enters through privacy screens made from Siberian larch, which add beauty and contrast to the façade.

Through a functional and efficient design, the architects sought to minimise carbon emissions at every stage of construction, from fabrication through to finishing. Off-site manufacturing was used to reduce waste, while the shell of the house and kit of parts staircase were designed for ease of disassembly.

Spruce House & Studio was designed with the support of structural engineers Entuitive and installed by PSS London, with timber supplied by ConstruktCLT and cladding from Russwood.

Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, the lead building judge, said:

“This simple but rigorous plan has been resolved with incredible precision. Carefully integrated joinery, considered detailing and the gentle filtering of natural light create an overall calm, monastic feel to the space.”

The Wood Awards building judges, a team of world-leading professionals led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, visited all 20 buildings shortlisted in the Wood Awards before deciding the winners, in one of the UK’s most rigorous assessments for any competition.

This year’s best new timber building announced as New Temple Complex, designed by James Gorst Architects. The likes of The Black & White Building, Dragon Flat, Westminster Hall Roof & Lantern, The Boathouse, Benenden School, Centenary Hall & Music School and Field Station also all won their categories, showcasing the diverse use of timber, from large commercial offices through to intimate private homes.

As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. A huge thank you for continued support from Carpenters CompanyAmerican Hardwood Export Council and Timber Development UK.