­A cultural institution, a temporary modular structure, a quirky set of cabinets and a sleek, long bench w­ere four winners of the Wood Awards 2019, and they all incorporate American hardwood.

The winners of the annual Wood Awards were announced at a ceremony held on the 19th November at Carpenters’ Hall in London. Established in 1971, the Wood Awards aims to recognise and encourage outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.

MultiPly (U.S. tulipwood) by Waugh Thistleton Architects won the Small Projects category, the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House was recognised in the Commercial & Leisure category (U.S. walnut); while David Gates’ Littoral Chances 1&2 cabinets (U.S. hard maple) won in the Bespoke category; the sleek, Long Bench (U.S. walnut) designed by Ian McChesney is this year’s Production winner.

The American Hardwood Export Council’s European Director, David Venables, said: “This is such a wonderful recognition of American hardwoods. All of these projects show the capabilities of hardwoods and, whether the material is used in a building capacity or in furniture, its versatility and beauty function in the way the designers’ intended.”


MultiPly, this year’s Small Project winner, is the first structure made from UK manufactured CLT. The judges praised its simple design that communicates modularity and repetition.

MultiPly carousel
Modular pavilion MultiPly made from cross laminated U.S. tulipwood by architect Waugh Thistleton Architects

Architect: Waugh Thistleton Architects

Client: American Hardwood Export Council

Structural engineer: Arup

Main contractor: Stage One

CLT panel manufacturer: Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC)

Lighting design: SEAM

Wood fabricator: Glenalmond Timber Company

Wood species: American tulipwood

Timber donated by: Allegheny Lumber, Bingaman Lumber, Boss Lumber, Classic American Hardwoods, Collins Hardwood, North West Hardwoods, Northland Forest Products, Lathams Timber, Parton Lumber and Thompson Hardwoods.

MultiPly is a carbon neutral engineered timber pavilion, made from hardwood CLT. The vertical maze of stacked modules and staircases creates labyrinthine spaces which intertwine, inviting people to explore the use of wood in architecture and reflect on how we build our homes and cities. MultiPly demonstrates how engineered timber structures can be reconfigured, reused, repurposed and ultimately recycled. The pavilion has been shown in three locations, each iteration taking a different form. The unassuming assembly of modules belies the engineering challenges created by the thinness of panels, significant cantilevers, and the complexity of designing a structure that can be reduced to a set of parts. MultiPly provided an opportunity to push the boundaries of CLT construction. Like a piece of flat-packed furniture, it arrives as a kit of parts and can be quietly assembled in under a week.


The Commercial & Leisure winner: Royal Opera House 'Open Up'. 

Royal Opera House carousel
The Linbury Theatre in American walnut by architect Stanton Williams

Location: London

Architect: Stanton Williams

Client: Royal Opera House

Structural engineers: Arup, Robert Bird Group

Main contractor: Swift Crafted Ltd

Joinery: Birmingham Veneers Ltd, TT Gillard, Thornell Veneers Ltd

Construction manager: Rise

Wood supplier: Missouri Walnut LLC

Veneer supplier: Reliance Veneer Co Ltd

Wood species: American walnut

The transformation of the Royal Opera House reimagines the world-renowned home of ballet and opera and strikes the right balance between heritage and 21st century life. Improved access and transparency, a completely new Linbury Theatre and new foyers, terraces, cafes, bars, restaurant and retail facilities extend the building’s life outside of performance hours. At entrance level, subtle timber elements inlaid in the stone floor offer a warm welcome. Descending into the double-height Linbury Theatre foyer, the atmosphere becomes more intimate and theatrical as exquisitely book matched veneer surfaces are complemented by elegant linear grids of timber batons and solid wood parquet. The Linbury Theatre is entirely clad in black walnut, inspired by the rich cherry cladding in the main 1858 Opera House auditorium. Lights, acoustic insulation and sound equipment are integrated within the timber. The judges admired how the new design reads as a complete building, yet seamlessly connects with the main spaces of the existing building.


The Furniture & Product judges selected two winners within the Bespoke category.

David Gates’s Littoral Chances 1&2 received an award for its singular vision and how it highlights just how much a material can be adapted to the individual’s style.

Designer/maker: David Gates

Vitreous enamel on steel panels: Helen Carnac

Wood supplier: Adamson & Low, English Woodland Timber and Timberline

Wood species: European oak, bog oak, ripple sycamore, Cedar of Lebanon and Douglas fir, American hard maple

This unmatched pair of collecting cabinets is based on the beauty of chance composition. Gates is drawn to industrial and agricultural architecture, including jetties and pylons, and the paraphernalia that populates these sites, such as containers and crates. Gates is often struck by the balance and beauty of chance compositions; how stacked and piled objects present themselves sculpturally. The timber has been sawn, scraped, planed and cleft to emphasise the woods' varying surfaces. The cabinets appear chaotic and improvised but are carefully made using adaptations of traditional construction techniques. The hand-shaped elliptical section of the legs echoes that of yacht masts, further extending the link to the estuary landscape.


Ian McChesney Bench is this year’s Production winner.

Ian McChesney Bench
The Ian McChesney Bench in European oak or American Walnut, by architect Ian McChesney

Designer: Ian McChesney

Manufacturer: Benchmark

Wood supplier: PB Hardwoods and English Woodlands Timber

Wood species: European oak or American Black Walnut

These highly crafted benches are made in two sizes. The gallery bench is designed to sit in the middle of a room and is 900mm deep to allow for sitting on both sides. The foyer bench is designed to sit at the edge of the room and is 600mm deep to allow for sitting on one side only. The gently pillowed top and bottom give the benches a very natural feel. They are carved initially on a 5 axis CNC machine and then assembled and finished by hand to create the elegant edge profile. They are finished with hand applied natural hard wax oils to keep the timber looking and feeling as natural as possible.


The judges selected Cork House as this year’s Gold Award and Private category winner. The Gold Award is given to the winner of winners. Judge Ruth Slavid comments, “This is a really exciting project. Not just a house, it is also a piece of research.”

Cork House carousel
Gold winner Cork House, featuring elements in American white oak, by architect Matthew Barnett with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton

Location: Eton

Architect: Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton

Client: Matthew Barnett Howland and Dido Milne

Structural engineer: Arup

Main contractor: Matthew Barnett Howland with M&P London Contractors Ltd

Joinery: Whyte & Wood

CNC machining of cork blocks: Wup Doodle

Internal joinery: Nic Rhode Furniture

Furniture: Tom Graham Workshop

Wood supplier: NFP Europe Ltd

Wood species: Portuguese cork oak, New Zealand pine, Estonian spruce, American/Canadian western red cedar, Austrian spruce and American white oak

Cork House is built almost entirely from cork and timber. Monolithic walls and corbelled roof pyramids are built with load-bearing expanded cork made from the bark of the cork oak tree, a by-product from wine stoppers. Conceived as a prefabricated kit-of-parts, blocks of expanded cork were CNC-machined off-site and then assembled on-site by hand without mortar or glue. All 1,268 pure cork blocks will be available at end-of-building-life as either biological or technical nutrients. A CLT floor platform, finished with oak floor boards, rests on Accoya beams supported on steel screw piles. Accoya is also used for the bespoke doors, windows and external steps. Western red cedar weatherboarding is used on the roof and rear façade. All internal built-in joinery and loose furniture is made from spruce. Internally, the exposed cork and timber create a rich, evocative, sensory environment.


The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood. The competition began in 1971 as the Carpenters’ Award and was rebranded in 2003 as the Wood Awards. The Awards’ elite independent judging panel of professional experts and specialists not only judges the submitted entries but visits the shortlisted projects in person, making the Wood Awards as meaningful and rigorous a competition as possible. As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship.

The building’s judging panel is led by three-time Gold Award winner Stephen Corbett of Green Oak Carpentry. The panel includes Andrew Lawrence, Arup; Adam Richards, Adam Richards Architects; Kirsten Haggart, Waugh Thistleton Architects; Nathan Wheatley, engenuiti; David Morley, David Morley Architects; Jim Greaves, Hopkins; Jonas Lencer, dRMM; and architectural journalist Ruth Slavid.

The furniture and product panel is led by design critic, curator and journalist Corinne Julius. The panel includes Oliver Stratford, editor of Disegno magazine; Rod Wales of Wales & Wales; and previous winners Yael Mer of Raw-Edges, Eleanor Lakelin and Sebastian Cox.


Social Media: @WoodAwards


AHEC is the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among hardwood companies, who now market and sell their products in significant volumes all around the world. For more than 30 years, AHEC has been at the forefront of international wood promotion, successfully building a distinctive and creative brand for American hardwoods. By recognizing the key role design plays in the successful and innovative use of hardwoods AHEC helps the American hardwood industry develop new opportunities by building a rapport with the global design community. In Europe AHEC is renowned for its imaginative and ambitious collaborations with architects and designers to highlight the potential and inspire more use of these sustainable materials.