Showcasing timber design

Showcasing timber design

“Everyone wins when we can support growth in our wood products sector and at the same time tackle our climate change challenges,” says Wood Processing and Manufacturers Association Chief Executive, Mark Ross of the 2023 Timber Design Awards held this month.  

“Collectively the winning projects shine a light on the role that wood construction can play to increase the demand for use of our domestically produced timber and addressing our sustainability targets,” he adds.“As our society develops a deeper understanding of the carbon impacts of buildings, it is clear that greater use of timber as a construction material has a critical role to play in reducing our emissions.”  With timber there is no limit to what can be done, especially with advanced technologies and backing of well-planned research, he explains, saying globally, the use of wood for construction is rising.   “Within New Zealand there are multiple opportunities for wood. With support from government, plus collaboration across the forestry, wood processing and building sectors we can make a difference and grow our timber-based industries,” says Mr Ross.   Greater use of locally harvested timber products in apartments and offices not only significantly reduces the carbon footprint of these building structures, but it also offers natural comfort and warmth to occupants that is rarely found in other building materials.   The Awards programme honours the people and organisations that, through design excellence, engineering skills and innovation, are advancing the use of wood in all types of construction.   The Awards are organised through Timber Unlimited with 61 finalists across 12 categories. Entries were judged on materials selected, ensuring that timber was sustainably sourced and manufactured within New Zealand.  

Engineered timber featured strongly throughout, as did hybrid buildings (those incorporating other building materials in the finished project). 

“The possibilities for timber aren’t limited to traditional uses anymore,” says Timber Unlimited’s Director Dr Robert Finch. “We all know timber can be aesthetically beautiful as well as being an impressive building material, and it’s sustainable too. 

Awards Manager, Debbie Fergie adds: “From residential and commercial architectural excellence, to innovative uses of engineered wood, to new ways to use specialty timbers – wood is now firmly established as a favourite of forward-thinking architects and engineers, and the NZ Timber Design Awards proved this.”

The four judges selected this year are leaders in their sectors, and were uniformly impressed with the vision and expertise demonstrated by all the entries. 

Convening judge, David Carradine, a senior structural research engineer with BRANZ and frequent Awards judge, confirmed that for him “there is no limit to what can be done with this material, especially combined with the advances in digital and manufacturing technologies that cater specifically to wood and engineered wood products.” 

The other three judges were Jan Stanway, Technical Director for WSP in New Zealand; Andrea Stocchero, senior analyst, Sector and Bio-economy Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service; and Judith Taylor, current President of the NZ Institute of Architects. 

All judges felt the range of submissions demonstrated the innovation, dedication and creativity that exists within and across the New Zealand timber sector, from architectural and engineering design, manufacturing and fabrication, to “the builders and makers of these beautiful examples of what can be done with one of our greatest national treasures, namely timber.”

With the Supreme Award winner, Green School NZ’s ‘Kina’ project on a former farm in Taranaki, judges agreed it was an exemplary project that demonstrated the beauty, efficiency and sustainability of timber, and was a clear winner. 

The materials’ whole of life cycle was considered from design process to execution to the end of its useful life, ensuring that timber was as sustainably sourced and manufactured as possible. This allowed it to be a beautiful building now, and at the end of its long life most of the timber elements will be able to be recycled.

Highly commended in the Supreme category was Nelson Airport, with judges recognising “the seamless fusion of architecture, engineering and timber,” which “represents a global benchmark for timber architecture and engineering innovation”. 

The People’s Choice Award showed Māori Concepts’ Tomomai ki Ahipara in Northland to be a clear winner, with St Hilda’s Anglican Church in Wellington highly commended.

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