Seeing the wood for the trees

Monday 24 Feb 2014

Judges from Aalto University, Berg | CF Møller and CEBRA select 2013 Wood in Architecture Award Shortlist

With a specialist category comes specialist challenges. The 2013 Wood in Architecture Award attracted a range of projects with depth, not just in the range of project types but also in scale. This created another issue in terms of what the Wood in Architecture Award is truly about. Is it simply a case of spotting and rewarding superior craftsmanship or judging where a truly versatile material that has served mankind for years has been tested further?

The judges for this fascinating but unenviable task were Professor Richard Harris from University of Bath, Professor Pekka Heikkinen of Aalto University, Mårten Leringe, CEO of Berg | CF Møller and Carsten Primdahl, Founding Partner of CEBRA Architecture

NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) in Trondheim by PIR II went very quickly onto the shortlist with Professor Richard Harris simply stating that it is ‘a very good building in every way’. Mårten Leringe thought it had ‘a holistic approach to sustainability that incorporates wood not only as an add-on but as a means to create wholeness’.

Earth Sciences Building in Vancouver by Perkins + Will Canada was also enjoyed by the judges and next onto the shortlist. Richard Harris thought it was ‘a genuinely innovative building from a timber point of view’. Mårten Leringe concurred, describing it as an ‘elegant and well-structured building that brings the hybrid construction solution between concrete and wood to another level’.

In the spirit of the recently completed Winter Olympics, the Speed Skating Stadium Inzell, Germany by Behnisch Architekten & Pohl Architekten was next onto the shortlist, just because, as Mårten Leringe put it, it ‘looks fantastic’. Professor Pekka Heikkinen thought ‘as a concept of an ice rink, it is a good one…it’s an experimental use of materials which is good and it looks nice outside’.

House of Toilet by Future-scape Architects in Kanonji was an interesting project that quickly followed on to the shortlist. Mårten Leringe thought it to be ‘a very ambitious project with nice detailing that turns the public toilet into a place for people. It is innovative in terms of process’. Professor Pekka Heikkinen added ‘it’s a different scale [compared to other larger projects] and it’s not bad at all’.

Woods of Net in Kanagawa by Tezuka Architects was praised by Richard Harris for the architects' impressive handling of the materials. He explained that the team has 'taken a traditional method and turned it into a modern piece of architecture and it looks simple, but it’s not. To create a space like this is not easy. The space inside looks a pleasure to be in and the people look very happy'. Mårten Leringe also enjoyed it, applauding the ‘traditional jointing techniques with a modern concept'. 

Kamppi Chapel in Finland by K2S Architects Ltd was the sixth and final scheme onto the shortlist and was appreciated by all, not least by Professor Pekka Heikkinen ‘despite being a Finn’! Richard Harris thought it was ‘a very interesting building. You see pods, but not on this scale. The pods are normally internal features but this has turned a pod into a building and it’s got real style’. Mårten Leringe added ‘like a piece of Alvar Aaltos vases this extension is truly unique and with a poetic interior’.

We would like to offer our heartiest congratulations to those that made the shortlist and our sincere thanks to all those that entered the WAN Wood in Architecture Award.

Jim Davis
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

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