University of Cambridge’s ‘Homerton College Dining Hall’ is the UK’s best new timber building, having won the Gold Award at the Wood Awards in a ceremony yesterday evening.
Elegant and impressive, the dining hall was praised by the judges for how it celebrates the integrity and inherent beauty of its materials, from its design through to its incredible craftsmanship, and for the space, it creates which is both welcoming and inspiring to students.
The dining hall, buttery, kitchens, and associated amenities give rise to a bright, airy, and efficient setting by day, which can transform into a dramatic ceremonial setting at night. The ash-lined buttery serves as a café and provides an area to socialise or study.
At the heart of the hall is an impressive timber structure with no interrupting supports that allows for a large, clear space; breathtaking to building professionals, educators, and students alike.
Each sweet chestnut glulam truss in the hall is formed of four members which are connected at a central node and to the full-height columns on each side, while above these beams an engineered timber roof deck lends lateral stability.
This combination of high-performing engineered timber with traditional joinery achieves an elegance, revealed in the butterfly truss design, which echoes traditional collegiate halls in its aesthetics, but also exploits the compressive strength of timber in its structure.
Homerton College Dining Hall was designed by architects Feilden Fowles, and structural engineers Structure Workshop. It was built by Barnes Construction, with joinery from Classic Barfitting. The wood supplier was Constructional Timber.
A clean sweep for the University of Cambridge
The award makes a two-year clean sweep for the University of Cambridge, who won the Gold Award with their Magdalene College Library last year before going on to win the RIBA’s Stirling prize.
The Wood Awards building judges, a team of world-leading professionals led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, visited all 20 buildings shortlisted in the Wood Awards before deciding the winner, in one of the UK’s most rigorous assessments for any competition.
Having chosen Homerton College Dining Hall as the Gold Winner, the judges said they were impressed by the harmony of the structure with the rest of the college, allowing for light and flow from the garden and to other areas of the college to create a building both ‘natural and iconic’.
Homerton College Dining Hall beat more than 200 buildings in the UK to claim the Gold Award. They were also the winner of the Education category, and of the Structural Award.
Winners in other categories
Homerton College Dining Hall was not the only winner of the night, with the likes of ABBA Arena, Mews House, Douglas Fir House, and the Equal Access Project all winning their categories and showcasing the diverse use of timber, from large commercial arenas through to intimate private homes.
Equally exciting was the announcement of a new category, ‘Restoration and Reuse’, which highlights the projects which use timber to preserve and enhance existing buildings.
The winner in this new category was The Water Tower; a project from architects Tonkin Liu which transformed an iconic but abandoned piece of local infrastructure into a beautiful, private residence, in what judges described as a ‘reimagination of what architecture can be’.
Among the furniture and product design pieces that were able to win their categories was the Black Oak Fenland Project, Furniture for 2 Bessborough Street by designers Mentsen, and student winner Henry Johnson from Nottingham Trent University, with the Veneer Stool – each outstanding leaders, present and future, in British design using wood.
You can find out more information about the 2022 winners by visiting an exhibition of the models at the Building Centre, or by visiting www.woodawards2022.online. Previous winners of the Wood Awards can be found at www.woodawards.com.
Speaking about the importance of the Wood Awards, Timber Development UK CEO, David Hopkins said:
“The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood – the world’s only truly sustainable and renewable building material.
“As the UK races to meet net zero targets, the materials we build with have a major impact on emissions. The built environment currently contributes some 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions and it is estimated that the construction sector contributes up to 11% of global carbon emissions.
“Wood in construction is low carbon and low energy. It provides an existing, proven business model, and technology, which allows us to decarbonise now as it supports the growth of vast carbon sinks in our rural areas, and carbon storage in our cities.
“The winners of the Wood Awards must be seen as the future of sustainable construction. As we represent the wood supply chain from the forest through to the end building, and we are so proud to support and organise the Wood Awards this year.