‘Exemplary’ Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft takes Arnold Laver Gold Award at national Wood Awards 2014


Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft by Adam Richards Architects has taken the Arnold Laver Gold Award in this year’s UK national Wood Awards 2014 competition – the flagship for wood in the best of British architecture, furniture and design. Announced at the Wood Awards winners’ ceremony hosted by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters on the 18th November in the City of London, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex won the Existing Building category before being crowned the “winner of winners” in front of more than 200 leading industry and architectural figures.

Arnold Laver Gold Award Winner 2014 Ditchling Museum by Adam Richards Architects
Arnold Laver Gold Award Winner 2014 Ditchling Museum by Adam Richards Architects

Chairman of the judges and founder of the Wood Awards, Michael Buckley said, “The Wood Awards go from strength to strength. This year there were several possible category winners from the outset but the final debate among the judges was not easy. Part of the strength of these national awards is that the panel of independent judges spent 116 judge-days during the summer personally inspecting the short-list in order to ensure we are truly celebrating the exceptional.” Fellow judge Hugh Pearman, editor of RIBA Journal and architecture critic for the Sunday Times said, “As the Gold Award winner, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft sums everything up. It is an exemplary little low-budget rural museum by an architect to note for the future. A mix of new-build and restoration, of ancient techniques co-existing happily with the high technology of today, it adroitly uses a mixed palette of materials (including spruce CLT and English oak) that suits its context admirably – and is designed in such a way as to waste practically nothing.”

The Wood Awards judging panel includes Hugh Pearman and Eleanor Young of RIBA Journal, Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, Andrew Lawrence from Arup, David Morley, Adam Khan, architectural writer Ruth Slavid, timber engineering consultant Nathan Wheatley from Engenuiti and craft specialist John Wilkie, and the panel is chaired by Michael Buckley. Sean Sutcliffe of Benchmark Furniture leads the Wood Awards eminent furniture judging panel of John Makepeace, Rod Wales and Katie Walker.

The UK national Wood Awards category winners for 2014 include The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London by McCurdy & Co for the Commercial & Public Access Award; House No. 7 in Tiree, Scotland by Denizen Works for the Private Award; Alfriston School Swimming Pool in Beaconsfield by Duggan Morris Architect for the Structural Award, and the small but perfectly formed Studio in Oxford by James Wyman Architects for the Small Project Award.

The Globe Theatre 2014 Allies and Morrison
The Globe Theatre 2014 Allies and Morrison
Private Winner House No 7 by Denizen Works
Private Winner House No 7 by Denizen Works
Structural Winner Alfriston School Swimming Pool by Duggan Morris Architects
Structural Winner Alfriston School Swimming Pool by Duggan Morris Architects
Studio, Oxford by James Wyman Architects
Studio, Oxford by James Wyman Architects

In the Wood Awards furniture categories, the Bespoke Furniture Award was won by Makers’ Eye – a collective of leading design-makers working in Britain today – for ‘Oak Furniture for the Dickson Poon Centre’ at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford. This project comprises nearly 200 pieces and was supplied to the sort of quality that tends to come from smaller and bespoke makers. Fowler & Co’s ‘Hat Tree’ took the Production Made Furniture Award, which was praised by the judges for its adaptation to the rigours of the production process.

 Bespoke Funiture Winner Oak furniture for Dickson Poon Centre by Makers' Eye
Bespoke Funiture Winner Oak furniture for Dickson Poon Centre by Makers’ Eye
Production Made Furniture Winner Hat Tree by Fowler & Co Ltd
Production Made Furniture Winner Hat Tree by Fowler & Co Ltd

Chair of the Wood Awards furniture judges, Sean Sutcliffe, said, “This has been another fascinating year for the Wood Awards. One particularly interesting aspect has been to look at the understanding developing between bespoke furniture and design for manufacture – to see how exactly designers are growing to understand the simplification of process that is needed for manufacture and how that can be coupled with quality of design, detailing and materials. On the other hand, there is enormous pleasure when one encounters the creativity, aesthetic understanding, craftsmanship and, often, restraint, that goes into the best bespoke pieces.”

Two Judges’ Special Awards were given this year. The first went to dRMM Architects and team for Endless Stair, created in American tulipwood CLT for the London Design Festival. The judges said, “The Endless Stair was a real one-off, a project that combined being an exciting and accessible piece of public art with research into innovative new ways of using a material, adding to the sum of knowledge as well as providing delight.” The second was awarded to specialist joinery company Jack Badger Ltd for their Hand carved Gothic doors; two ornate pairs of Gothic oak doors with hand-carved tracery on both sides, constructed using traditional techniques and using 100% oak for the construction, with no glues or screws or modern fixings. Jack Badger worked with its apprentices on the project, giving them a chance to learn new skills which are in rapid decline and also giving them a sense of personal pride and achievement.

 Judges Special Award Endless Stair by dRMM
Judges Special Award Endless Stair by dRMM
Judges Special Award Hand carved oak gothic doors by Jack Badger Ltd
Judges Special Award Hand carved oak gothic doors by Jack Badger Ltd

This year, the Wood Awards was launched at Ecobuild in March, and at 100% Design in September the Wood Awards exhibited a gallery of the full shortlist and the shortlisted Furniture categories pieces featured in person.

As the UK’s premier award scheme with over 40 years of supporting excellence in the world’s only naturally sustainable material, the not-for-profit competition is the flagship for wood in the best of British architecture, furniture and design.

The Wood Awards is only made possible by the major sponsorship of the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, TRADA and Wood for Good. Other sponsors include American Softwoods, BRE and the Forestry Commission. New from 2014 is the combined sponsorship of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) with the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC), and the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) as a supporter. The Wood Awards Gold Award is sponsored by Arnold Laver.

For full project information on the shortlist and winners, visit www.woodawards.com

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