May 12

Top commercial timber buildings of the last two decades

As we enter the Wood Awards 2023, we wanted to take a look back at some of our incredible winners over the last 18 years – right back to 2006.

Timber has long been a popular choice for commercial projects, for it’s weight, ease of construction and ability to support strong architectural expression.

A wide range of timber buildings have won the Wood Awards over the past two decades, ranging from arenas and swimming pools, to opera houses and bars.

Take a journey back in time to some of these incredible timber buildings and get your daily dose of inspiration.


The Black & White Building

This landmark mass timber office complex sets a new standard for sustainable and innovative workspace architecture founded on low-carbon construction, circularity and natural materials. Standing 17.8 metres above the Shoreditch streetscape on the site of a former timber-seasoning yard, The Black & White Building is the tallest engineered timber structure of its kind in central London. With a hybrid engineered timber superstructure comprising beech LVL frame with CLT slabs and core, the seven-storey, 4,480 m2 building demonstrates that timber is not just a viable structural solution for office-building, but a preferable option for both performance and sustainability. The timber structure…

ABBA Arena

Timber is helping to take visitors on a voyage at ABBA Arena where it is being used for the world’s largest demountable concert venue, including an auditorium, rainscreen, and front of house facilities. Home to the ground-breaking virtual concert series, Abba Voyage, the ABBA Arena in East London is the world’s largest demountable concert venue, with a capacity of 3,000.
Highly Commended

The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater

Sitting within the 154-acre grounds of Worsley New Hall, The Welcome Building acts as a gateway to the gardens as well as containing a visitor meeting and interaction point, restaurant, gift shop, offices and educational spaces. 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.

The Alice Hawthorn

London architecture studio De Matos Ryan led the transformation and contemporary update of a beloved local pub in Nun Monkton, North Yorkshire, the village's last remaining such space. The building has been redesigned around principles of sustainable architecture to include the addition of twelve guest bedrooms, eight of which are entirely timber-frame constructions. They are all arranged around a central courtyard.

Frindsbury Manor Barn

Frindsbury Manor Barn is a Grade 1 listed medieval barn that had stood staunch in the midst of the Kent countryside for more than 600 years. In 2003, it was damaged in a fire leading to the loss of three large bays. Faced with this destruction, the Heritage Design & Development Team stepped in to deliver an ambitious restoration project which saw a full third of the 210ft-long barn rebuilt from 1400 cubic feet of green oak.

Royal Opera House ‘Open Up’

Striking a balance between heritage and twenty first century life, the transformation of the Royal Opera House reimagines the world-renowned home of ballet and opera. Improved access and transparency, the new Linbury Theatre, plus foyers, terraces, cafes, bars, restaurant and retail facilities extend the building’s life outside of performance hours. Inspired by the rich cherry cladding in the main 1858 Opera House auditorium, the Linbury Theatre is entirely clad in black walnut, with lights, acoustic insulation and sound equipment integrated within the timber.
Gold Award

Storey’s Field Centre & Eddington Nursery

This 100-place nursery is arranged around three sides of a landscaped courtyard. On the fourth side is the civic scaled community centre which includes a 180-seat main hall. Influenced by the dining halls and chapels of Cambridge colleges, the main hall uses an exposed, articulated timber structure. The slender spruce-glulam portal frames spring from the oak panelled base and pass in front of a backdrop of ash veneered panelling, with timber tones gradually lightening with the height of the space.

Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre & Museum

Intended to act as a showcase for Rievaulx Abbey, the new visitor centre provides an enticing and legible welcome building for visitors. A glulam spruce central hall has been inserted into the existing L-shaped plan of the original structure. Gradually splaying to reveal previously obscured views, the new structural frame echoes the existing columns and arches of the abbey ruins.

Stihl Treetop Walkway

The Grade I listed Westonbirt Arboretum is home to one of the finest tree collections in the world. The Stihl Treetop Walkway provides views over this landscape, in particular the ancient woodlands of Silk Wood and across The Downs. At almost 300m in length, it is the longest structure of its kind in the UK. The route snakes above and through the tree canopy supported by scissoring timber legs spaced at 10.5m intervals.

Constellations Bar

Constellations Bar is an outdoor venue that consists of a bar, food truck, art space and community garden. Located in a disused industrial recycling yard in Liverpool’s up-and-coming creative quarter, The Baltic Triangle, the bar's design takes inspiration from its site. Pitched gables, left over after a former warehouse burned down in the yard in the 1980s, provide a backdrop to the design, with their form reflected as a motif in the profile of the canopy.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Sam Wanamaker’s original vision for the Globe complex was always meant to include an indoor theatre to compliment the open air Globe. The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, with its historically-based Jacobean interior, finally opened in January 2014. The overall design is based on seventeenth century drawings for an indoor theatre discovered at Worcester College, Oxford and the careful study of surviving Jacobean interiors and details. Like many of the examples studied, the interior of the new playhouse is constructed almost entirely from wood.

The Colyer-Fergusson Building

The Colyer-Fergusson Building provides facilities for the University of Kent’s thriving extra-curricular music programme, which involves students, staff and members of the community in music making of all kinds. The building contains a concert hall large enough for a full orchestra, choir and audience of 350, a generous foyer, practice rooms, offices, and storage and technical spaces. With walls and ceiling completely lined in Douglas fir plywood, the aspiration for the project was to create the finest concert hall of its size in Kent.

Stowe Gardens Visitor Centre

The Stowe Garden’s Visitor Centre sits on a beautiful rural site that is, once again, the gateway to one of the world’s greatest landscape gardens. The project is based on the restoration of the ‘New Inn’, originally built in 1717 by Lord Cobham as lodgings for visitors to his gardens. The inn has been restored and new buildings sympathetically created around it on the original footprint of the farm complex, which together provide a series of public areas for today’s visitors.

Brockholes Visitor Centre

Built on a large concrete pontoon on a lake within the Brockholes Wetland and Woodland Nature Reserve, the visitor centre was awarded the BREEAM Outstanding rating for sustainability, in large part because of the extensive use of timber throughout. The centre is made up of a cluster of large and smaller timber-framed oak-clad buildings housing various facilities from bustling public areas including a café and shop, to more reflective areas for learning about and viewing the surrounding wildlife habitats.

Hull History Centre

The Hull History Centre creates an integrated state-of-the-art storage and public access facility for the archives and local studies collections of Hull City Council and the University of Hull. A new public arcade runs the full length of the building providing an intermediate space between the city and the archive, extending the public realm into the History Centre itself. Glue laminated timber was chosen for the arcade structure because of its sustainable credentials and the ability to form the timber members into the curvaceous shapes required to realise the project.
Gold Award

Kings Place Concert Hall

There are many significant aspects to the Kings Place development in King's Cross, but perhaps the most important is the new public concert hall, the first to be built in central London since the completion of the Barbican in 1982. The hall holds 420 people with 300 seats provided in the gently raked stalls and a further 120 seats around the upper gallery. With its elegant interior and state-of-the-art acoustic performance, it is intimate yet large enough to accommodate a small orchestra.
Gold Award

New Shetland Museum & Archives

The New Shetland Museum & Archives – the most northerly in the UK – integrates Shetland’s museum and its archives into a single building which acts as a heritage hub for the historic and cultural services provided by the Shetland Amenity Trust. Towering over its western extremity is the timber-clad Boat Hall, providing exhibition space for Shetland’s outstanding collection of historic boats - including the last surviving sixareen, a direct descendant of the Viking Longship - suspended within its naturally lit volume.
Gold Award

Formby Pool

This public swimming pool and park in the centre of Formby contains a 25metre, five-lane pool, learner pool, fitness suite and café. The timber framed building is clad in English oak and copper, which will gradually weather and mature with the park that surrounds it. Sustainably sourced timber is used internally, for the structure and the cladding.
Gold Award

Savill Building

The Savill Building's gridshell roof consists of four layers of timber, which are laid out flat and manipulated into a doubly curved shell form. The magic of the building is exposed very slowly. Visitors first see the curves of the roof, before entering through a deep earth bund. The openness of the building is then revealed, the roof apparently floating above the floor-to-ceiling glass panels which lead out to the garden itself.


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