2023 NZ Timber Design Awards winners and highly commended entries announced

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The 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards Supreme Award winner was Green School NZ’s Kina project on a former farm in Taranaki, by Boon Ltd (Taranaki).


The fully subscribed gala function for the NZ Timber Design Awards was hosted by Timber Unlimited on November 2 at Auckland’s Cordis Hotel, with 61 finalists whittled down to winners and runners-up in 12 categories. The 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards Supreme Award winner was Green School NZ’s Kina project on a former farm in Taranaki, by Boon Ltd (Taranaki).

Leaders across the industry celebrated the re-defining of timber as a modern construction material that pushes the boundaries of the possible for architects, designers, engineers and construction professionals alike.

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,” Timber Unlimited director Dr Robert Finch said.

“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 said 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.

Judging and choosing a supreme winner

Sorting another record-breaking number of entries into just 61 finalists, and ultimately into winners and runners-up over 12 categories (up 50% from category choices 10 years ago), required a profound understanding of architectural design, engineering skills and innovative thinking, as well as construction excellence.

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

Convening judge David Carradine is a senior structural research engineer with BRANZ, and frequent Awards judge.

He 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 Rakau – New Zealand Forest Service; and Judith Taylor, current NZ Institute of Architects president.

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”.

The judges agreed that the Supreme Award winner, Green School NZ’s Kina project on a former farm in Taranaki, 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.

“Through sustainable material selection, and innovative building techniques and products, Green School NZ buildings have been by design faster to build, higher performing and less wasteful than most others by quite a margin, with up to 60% less going to landfill,” selected design studio BOON Ltd explained.

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 Maori Concepts’ Tomomai ki Ahipara in Northland to be a clear winner, with St Hilda’s Anglican Church in Wellington highly commended.

• Visit www.wpma.org.nz/timber-design-awards.html for all winners and highly commended entries.

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