Specifier Review
American Hardwood Export Council

American Hardwood projects nominated for Wood Awards 2018

The American Hardwood Export Council is delighted to announce that five projects using American hardwoods have been shortlisted for the Wood Awards 2018.

The shortlist will be showcased at the London Design Fair (Stand: 13.3, Hall: H13), Old Truman Brewery, 20th-23rd September. Winners will be revealed at the annual Wood Awards ceremony at Carpenters’ Hall on 20th November, by ceremony host David Hopkins, Director of the Timber Trade Federation.

Established in 1971, the Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in the world’s only naturally sustainable material. The Awards are free to enter and aim to encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood. The judging panels visit all the shortlisted projects in person, making this a uniquely rigorous competition.

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. Within the Furniture & Product competition there are three subcategories: Bespoke, Production and Student Designer.

“We are delighted that designers and architects are recognising American hardwoods as the versatile, sustainable materials that they are,” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC. “Whether they are used in public buildings, private ones or in handmade furniture, the quality of the short-listed candidates is some of the best we have ever seen in the Wood Awards.”


Commercial & Leisure

The 100-place nursery is arranged around three sides of a landscaped courtyard. On the fourth side, is the civic scaled community centre including a 180-seat main hall. The principle rooms are lined in oak panelling. The main hall, influenced by the dining halls and chapels of Cambridge colleges, 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; the tones of the timber gradually lightening up the height of the space. A structural ceiling of layered ash joists, battens and veneered plywood conceals air extract routes for the hall’s passive ventilation strategy. The hall provides a venue for a range of activities and its acoustics can be adjusted to suit. At the west end, an ash spiral stair is a sculptural element wrapped by a curved veneered ash plywood balustrade. The nursery’s turret roofed classrooms are clad in western red cedar as are the soffits to the covered nursery cloister.

American hardwood

Wood Species: American white ash, European oak, Canadian western red cedar

Location: Cambridge

Architect: MUMA

Client/Owner: University of Cambridge

Structural Engineer: Aecom

Main Contractor: Farrans Construction Ltd

Joinery: C W Fields

Glulam Structure: Just Swiss

Spiral Stair Fabricator: Spiral UK Ltd

Cedar Shingle Supplier: Marley Eternit

Wood Supplier: Brooks Bros, D F Richards


Education & Public Sector

Two exceptional performance spaces have been integrated within the Academy site. The 309-seat cherry-lined Susie Sainsbury Theatre now forms the heart of the Academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, it has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. Each acoustic treatment has its own graded detailing to blend the sound in all directions. Above the Theatre, the 100-seat Angela Burgess Recital Hall provides 230m2 of additional space for student rehearsal, public performance and recording. The Theatre is designed intimate and epic whereas the Recital Hall is a tranquil, calming and visually cool. The Recital Hall is entirely lined in pale, lime-washed European oak. Woven into the design are structural elements reminiscent of string instruments. Through an aperture of finely tuned ‘strings’, an oak-lined oculus floods the space with daylight and provides a central focus.

American hardwood

Wood Species: American cherry, European oak

Location: London

Architect: Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd

Client/Owner: Royal Academy of Music

Structural Engineer: WSP

Main Contractor: Geoffrey Osborne Ltd

Joinery: James Johnson & Co. Ltd

Specialist Theatre Electrics & Lighting: Push The Button

Acoustic Engineer: Arup

Wood Supplier: Hardwood Sales, Brooks Bros, Lathams



The Vortex is a dramatic double-height space at the main entrance of Bloomberg’s new European headquarters. Its three inclined, curving timber shells are a literal and metaphorical twist on classic wood-panelled London lobbies. It is deliberately mysterious, responding to Bloomberg’s objective to create a building that unfolds gradually. The openings between the individual timber shells define the building’s separate entry and exit paths. The structure consists of a double timber wall, constructed as a pre-assembled series of stressed-skin cassettes, where the main joists are orientated to generate the curvature of the surface, while keeping the timber elements straight. The timber skeleton is covered by a double layer of plywood and timber panelling chosen for its warmth and ability to provide excellent acoustic properties. 6,000 unique panels had to be put together, much like a large jigsaw that could only be assembled in a particular sequence. Four shades of veneer were randomised across the surface to avoid concentration of any one shade in a particular area.

American hardwood

Wood Species: American red oak

Location: London

Architect: Foster + Partners

Client/Owner: Bloomberg LP

Structural Engineer: AKT II

Main Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine

Joinery Company: TMJ

Wood Supplier: Topakustic



GYC#1 is a collectors’ cabinet inspired by David Gates’ interest in industrial and agricultural architecture and infrastructure. GYC#1 is the first piece in the series to be finished completely in black and is closely related to the landscape of the Thames estuary. The final aesthetic of the piece is achieved with various amounts of scorching and pigment. Using a variety of techniques, the wood’s surface is a mixture of smooth and rough textures, creating a range of subtly varying textures unified by the darkened surface. Despite seemingly chaotic, the piece is made using precise traditional techniques.

American hardwood


Wood Species: American birds eye maple, British elm, ash and cedar of Lebanon

Designer: David Gates

Client/Owner: Sarah Myerscough Gallery

Vitreous enamel on steel panels: Helen Carnac

Wood Supplier: WL West



The range celebrates the age-old tradition of craftsmanship in everyday objects. Durability and careful detailing have been combined with strong materiality to create a range that is tactile and generous. Fitting for both commercial and domestic spaces, the collection includes two variants of dining table, accompanying benches, sideboard, shelving unit, high table, stool and occasional tables. The collection relies on the tactility of wood. The boldness and simplicity of the forms demand perfection in execution of the craft.

American hardwood

Wood Species: American black walnut or oak

Designer: Foster + Partners

Manufacturer: Benchmark

Wood Supplier: PB Hardwoods


Student Designer

Tom Morgan has created a colourful shoe cabinet influenced by his cordwainer’s background. Initially inspired by the work of Richard Deacon, Tom began by breaking down red oak veneer into smaller strips. The thin strips, dyed various colours and pressed into calico fabric, have been woven together to create a screen that wraps around a solid wood frame with five slatted shelves within.

American hardwood

Wood Species: American red oak

Designer: Tom Morgan

College: Rycotewood Furniture Centre

Wood Supplier: American Hardwood Export Council