Wood finds a place in AZ Awards

Of the finalists of the annual AZ Awards, at least five feature wood strongly, be it re-imagining new uses for its applications in interior design or as a structural element. 

These projects define wood’s beauty, versatility and strength. They also exemplify how, in the deep recesses of the human mind, nothing is impossible.

The awards are given out by AZURE magazine, an architecture and design periodical.

Some of these are featured here:

1. Fahouse 

Fahouse in Montreal was built for a young family of four. The architects Jean Verville architecte explored the contrast between light and opacity, and collaborated closely with the new home owners. It is conceived as a playful, fairy-tale space that would promote enthusiasm, imagination and enhance parent-child relationship.

The entire house is clad in black corrugated metal. Inside, the walls are lined with Baltic plywood; the attic on the top floor is fascinating, with beams and trusses meeting in an A frame, reminding the kid in you of being in the stomach of a whale.


Images: Maxime Brouillet


2. Tatsumi Apartment House

For this 10-storey residential apartment in Tokyo, the city of cramp, Hiroyuki Ito Architects came up with an elegant solution for small spaces.

To maximise each 34sqm floor plan, Ito left six huge columns exposed and nipped out small human-sized nooks for in-built furnishing, squirreling storage or simply cuddling up with a book. The columns become smaller  towards the upper floors, opening up to views of the Tokyo skyline via full-length windows and to be enjoyed on built-in benches.

Framed in light timber that matches natural wooden flooring, the modest space is reminiscent of boxes nesting within boxes.


Images: Hiroyuki Ito Architects


3. Audain Art Museum

Audain Art Museum in Whistler, Canada, bagged an award at the 2017 Wood Works! Wood Design Awards in BC under the Institutional Wood Design (Large) category. The exterior is simply clad in dark metal, which disappears into the shadows of the surrounding forest.

Application of wood on the exterior is restricted to areas that are under cover and protected from direct exposure to weather. Extensive application of wood for interior wall and ceiling finishes and casework largely define the character and experience of these spaces.

The project used Pacific Coast hemlock sourced from sustainably managed forests and practices in Whistler and floated down the Fraser River to Vancouver to be sawn, grade-sorted and kiln- dried. The wood was precision milled in Maple Ridge, factory-finished in Squamish and then shipped back to Whistler to be assembled and installed.

Images: Wood WORKS! BC – 2017 Wood Design Awards in B.C.


4. Five Fields Play Structure 

Five Fields Play Structure has no purpose, and that is exactly how the designers intend for it to be. The timber structure is a landscape for childish exploration. It shuns function and standard, in favour of liberation. The structure cultivates a child’s—and adults—imagination through play. It encourages inventiveness through its unfolding, discoverable spaces. The structure is a space for collective imagining and celebrating of all ages.

Five Fields is a Massachusetts community of 68 homes built in the 1950s. 60 years later, the community needed a play structure for the young families that have begun to move in. Architect Michael Schanbacher (chair of the landscape architecture committee) and Brandon Clifford of Matter Design then developed a concept that they then built on weekends with the help of neighbours. Throughout the construction process, neighbourhood children acted as “kid consultants,” helping to test and refine ideas. As striking as the play structure is visually, its communal ethos is what makes it stand out in the neighbourhood.


Images: Matter Design + FR|SCH


5. T3, Minneapolis

As if T3 isn’t already well-known as a testament to wood’s beauty. The office building won the 2017 Wood Works! Wood Design Awards in BC (International Wood Design).

Michael Green of MGA designed the largest mass timber building in America using glulam and nail-laminated timber harvested from  sustainably managed forests for the roof, floors, columns and beams, and furniture. A significant amount of the lumber used to fabricate the NLT comes from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle–which would otherwise be disposed or destroyed as waste. The small imperfections chewed off by the pest, exposed NLT as well as the slight colour variation adds charm and character to the superstructure.

For its size, T3 was erected in under 10 weeks, way quicker than conventional steel-framed or concrete buildings.

Images: MGA

The full list of winners can be found here.