Wood Awards highlight UK timber building evolution

The UK’s annual Wood Awards highlight continuing growth in timber-based construction in the country, especially in the public building sector.

That’s the conclusion of David Hopkins, director of the Wood for Good marketing campaign, a lead sponsor of the Awards, which recognise excellence in the use of wood in structural and interior applications, and furniture production.

“We received over 300 entries this year at a time when the UK construction industry is stagnating, showing how timber is carving itself an ever larger niche in the market,” he said.  “Many also achieve BREEAM [green building code] status reflecting the quality.”

This year, he added, the entries covered a more diverse building range, with a notable increase in showing from civic urban construction.

“We’re used to seeing growth in traditional sectors like housing, but this year we’ve seen an explosion across multiple markets. Schools and other educational buildings feature strongly, along with public sector developments, from leisure centres to healthcare facilities,” he said. “We also had a big push into the private sector, crucial for the continued fortunes of the timber industry, with hotels, offices and retail outlets all featuring.”

This wider range of entries, he maintained, showed that “timber is no longer marginalised in UK construction, but taking the mainstream and changing the face of urban centres”.  

Perhaps the key factor in timber’s growing attraction in building, said Mr Hopkins is sustainability.

“It’s finally being recognised as a solution to achieving the UK’s affordable, low-carbon urban development goals,” he said.  “In fact several entrants reported that planning authorities had waived obligations for renewable technologies, like solar panels, as they recognised the inherent low-carbon, sustainable qualities of the timber structure itself. This makes developments cheaper and, consequently timber an even more attractive option – all of which form part Wood for Good’s own message in its Wood First! campaign [which urges the authorities and business to give timber building early in the planning process due to its environmental merits].”   

The Wood Award winners will be announced in November - www.woodawards.com