TTJ readers may be forgiven for being momentarily distracted from this week’s edition. It does, after all, share its envelope with a rather glamorous companion. The glossy supplement features the winners of the 2004 Wood Awards competition for the use of timber in construction and interiors.

The top Gold Award went to the stunning Norwich Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, which bonds a modern timber and engineered wood structure into the medieval fabric of the building. But the other winners are equally eye-catching – ranging from a house extension dripping solid timber inside and out, to a school auditorium encased in a geometric larch beam and plywood shell.

The range of different applications among the 232 entries highlighted that timber is winning growing acceptance by specifiers as a key, high performance structural material, not just a decorative add-on or nod to modern environmental concerns.

This was further underlined by the results of the wood. for good backed “eScape” competition which invited architects to design a timber-based family home. The winning entry from PCKO will now be built by David Wilson Homes

Our feature on the British-grown sector highlights that the rediscovery of wood’s potential in UK building is underpinned by action to develop our own timber resource. Many feel devolution is benefiting the timber and forestry sector, with English, Welsh and Scottish industry bodies taking charge of their own destiny and setting initiatives in train to boost tree cover, improve woodland management and increase timber output

The forecast rise in the softwood harvest is not without potential problems, but it is hoped that a combination of rising per capita consumption and the technical work under way to broaden the applications for British timber will minimise risks of over-supply. Certainly the primary processors seem confident, judging by the latest reports of multi-million pound sawmilling investment. These stories are well worth a look, once you’ve finished gazing at the Wood Awards supplement.