The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has recently announced that the winner of the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, co-held with World Architecture Festival (WAF) is Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata by RTA Studio/Irving Smith Architects. The winner was revealed by Michael Berger, deputy CEO of PEFC.
Located in New Zealand, Scion Innovation Hub was chosen as the most outstanding of the eight shortlisted projects from around the world. It is also the winner of the WAF award in the category of Completed Buildings – Higher Education and Research.
According to PEFC, the building requires less material than traditional mass engineered timber buildings, showcasing PEFC-certified timber in a unique diagrid structure. The judges highlighted the focus of the project, away from gravity mass timber buildings to geometrically stiffened forms to help in earthquake conditions. It was also noted that the building achieved embodied carbon zero at the time of completion and showcased dovetail node joints which slot together, in an expression of craftsmanship and beauty.
“Scion Innovation Hub pays tribute to the local indigenous community and its history, as well as being a forestry research centre. Both are aligned with PEFC’s principles around community respect and continuous innovation,” highlighted Michael Berger.
Innovative and environmentally friendly
PEFC shared that Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is a reinvention of the headquarter building of Scion, a Crown Research Institute that specialises in technology development for the forestry industry.
The project is named after Tuteata, an ancestor of the three local Māori subtribes. Three peaks in glulam timber standing at the entrance represent the three subtribes. Visitors pass beneath these portals to a triple-height atrium where a curated exhibition of wood-fibre technology and a café welcome the public. The levels above provide more private, acoustically considered open-plan office and collaboration spaces.
The project is a showcase for engineered timber, not only in terms of the aesthetic but also what it contributes to a carbon-zero future.
The highly commended prize
In addition to the winning project, the jury honoured Microlibrary Warak Kayu by SHAU Indonesia with a highly commended prize.
The Microlibrary was built as part of an initiative to increase interest in reading by creating environmentally conscious, multi-functional community spaces in low-income neighbourhoods in Semarang, Indonesia.
When designing the Microlibrary, SHAU were keen to make learning more accessible to some of Indonesia’s poorest communities. To encourage families to use the library, fun features such as a hammock style floor and a swing were incorporated into the design.
Judges commended the use of locally sourced certified tropical timbers and design features such as the distinctive diagonal-patterned brise soleil, which provides natural shade for the bookshelves.