Wood Awards 2021 winners: limber use of timber in architecture and design

From smart products and bespoke commissions to private homes and cultural buildings, we present the Wood Awards 2021 winners

The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater by Hodder + Partners
Structural Award winner: The Welcome Building, RHS Garden Bridgewater
(Image credit: Hodder + Partners)

The Wood Awards 2021 winners have been revealed, recognising six buildings and two products as the year's best structures made out of timber. The annual honours, which were established in 1971 as the ‘premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood', are a coveted industry accolade that celebrates the trusted material – a frequent and key protagonist in sustainable architecture and design in both modern and traditional projects. The selection spans a wide range of scales and typologies, from smart products and bespoke commissions to private homes and cultural buildings. It includes the Gold Award, which is given to a project that the judges ‘deem to be the winner of winners', and this year went to the Magdalene College Library in Cambridge by Níall McLaughlin Architects.

The Wood Awards 2021 winners

Gold Award winner and Education & Public Sector winner: Magdalene College Library

Magdalene College Library

(Image credit: woodawards.com)

A substantial addition to an existing complex, the Magdalene College Library project features simple brick volumes, timber windows and pitched roofs ‘that echo the gabled architecture of the college', which is part of Cambridge University. The interiors are made using a glulam (glue-laminated timber) and CLT (cross-laminated timber) structure, with oak shelving joinery. From columns to floor beams, shelves, window frames and desks, timber is omnipresent and working hard in this architecture project by Níall McLaughlin Architects.

Commercial & Leisure winner: The Alice Hawthorn

The Alice Hawthorn building exterior

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

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 12 guest bedrooms, eight of which are entirely timber-frame constructions. They are all arranged around a central courtyard. 

Private winner: The Boathouse

living space at Private winner: The Boathouse

(Image credit: Jim Stephenson)

This family home by Adams + Collingwood Architects sits in leafy surrounds overlooking the Salcombe Estuary. The residence's use of natural materials includes extensive use of timber, such as the yellow cedar tiles and cladding on the roof and exterior, and the Douglas fir upstairs floor. The timber used was sourced from Canada.

Small Project winner: Built: East Pavilion

Wood awards 2021 Small Project winner: Built East Pavilion

(Image credit: Joe Laverty)

A team of two, OGU Architects and Donald McCrory Architects, are behind this winner, Built: East. Also the winning design in The Belfast Flare competition run by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, the structure was conceived to represent the area's rich manufacturing history, combining traditional crafts and innovative technologies. Using CNC methods, the project was created in parts off site and transported on site for rapid assembling.

Interiors winner: St John Street

Wood awards 2021 Interiors winner St John Street

(Image credit: woodawards.com)

The transformation of a Victorian warehouse space into a warm and welcoming family home, with a nod to its site's history, St John Street is the work of emerging architecture studio Emil Eve Architects. Exposed concrete and brickwork is matched by swathes of bespoke joinery that covers shelving, storage and bespoke fittings and furniture. The interiors feature lime-washed birch plywood against oak parquet flooring.

Structural Award winner: The Welcome Building, RHS Garden Bridgewater

The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater by Hodder Partners

(Image credit: woodawards.com)

The Welcome Building sits within a new garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Bridgwater, in Worsley, Salford. Hodder + Partners created a low, linear building that contains a visitor centre, a restaurant, a gift shop, offices, and educational spaces. ‘All public elements are contained under a single overarching glulam timber diagrid, supported on structural glulam trees,' say the architects. 

Bespoke winner: Gayles Farm 5

Wood awards 2021 Bespoke winner Gayles Farm

(Image credit: Simon Webb)

This bespoke private commission crafted by designer and manufacturer Wycliffe Stutchbury was created entirely in European oak and explores blending the qualities of wood and fabric-making techniques. The piece, which is conceived as a curtain, is composed of thousands of small oak tiles glued to an open-weave cotton twill.

Production winner: Iso-Lounge Chair

Wood awards 2021 Production winner Iso-Lounge Chair

(Image credit: woodawards.com)

Isokon Plus produced this new chair design by Jasper Morrison. The piece was inspired by Isokon's archive and in particular ‘the brand’s original logo; Gerald Summers’ “Bent Plywood” chair with its single flowing plywood surface; and Gerrit Rietveldt’s “Zig-Zag” chair'. The main material is plywood, which beautifully follows the curved design.


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).