New Temple Complex has been crowned the UK’s best new timber building, having won the Gold Award at the 2023 Wood Awards in a ceremony at Carpenters Hall in late November.

The multi-faith community complex, designed by James Gorst Architects for White Eagle Lodge, is a triumph of sustainable design. Located in Hampshire, and open to the public, the New Temple Complex comprises orthogonal, timber-framed pavilions, connected by a cloistered walkway, facing onto a central courtyard garden. The complex includes a temple, a library, chapels, a multiuse community hall, a public foyer and a kitchen.

An ancient pathway runs beside the site, passing clay beds and chalk streams, following a Tudor route used to transport timber from ancient oak forests to the shipbuilding city of Portsmouth. The building makes use of each of these materials, including ash from the nearby New Forest.

Between engineered timber frames manufactured offsite, facing clay brickwork set within chalk lime mortar, and reuse of concrete from the previous building’s foundations, the New Temple Complex is an exemplar of sustainable design that evokes quiet contemplation and connection to the landscape.

New Temple Complex was built by Beard Construction, with joinery from Kingsdown Joinery, and the assistance of quantity surveyors Jackson Coles. The wood supplier was English Woodlands Timber, while the structural frame was provided by Pacegrade.

The Wood Awards building judges, a team of world-leading professionals led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, visited all 20 buildings shortlisted in the Wood Awards before deciding the winner, in one of the UK’s most rigorous assessments for any competition.

Having chosen the New Temple Complex as both the ‘Education and Public Sector’ winner and the Gold Award winner, the judges commented:

“On approach, New Temple Complex is a beautiful composition of material and colour. It is a remarkable example of great architecture with many layers, within which timber is used exceptionally well – with meticulous finishes. The glulam domed roof is effortlessly elegant, while the connection to nature is continually considered.”


New Temple Complex was not the only winner of the night, with the likes of Spruce House & Studio, The Black & White Building, Dragon Flat, Westminster Hall Roof & Lantern, The Boathouse, Benenden School, Centenary Hall & Music School, and Field Station all winning their categories and showcasing the diverse use of timber, from large commercial offices through to intimate private homes.

Winner of the Private category was the Spruce House and Studio – a contemporary building in London that uses CLT for its structure and interior finishing.

Built on a constrained infill site in Walthamstow, this new-build home references the origins of what used to be the village high street by creating a contemporary interpretation of a residential shop front.

A full-width window, broken down by full height glulam mullions, references the alignment of neighbouring Victorian shop fronts. This is covered by a Siberian larch screen providing privacy whilst allowing daylight to enter the interior spaces.

The functional and efficient design sought to minimise the carbon footprint through all aspects of construction. Custom-milled, prefabricated CLT panels were used to create generous open spaces within a narrow Victorian footprint, with built-in timber joinery allowing seamless views throughout.

Along with the Siberian larch, species used included Latvian and Austrian spruce and PEFC/FSC-certified Russian birch plywood and the wood was supplied by ConstrukCLT and Russwood. The joinery was by PSS London.

The winner of the Commercial & Leisure, and Sustainability categories was The Black and White Building, a landmark mass timber office complex that sets a new standard for sustainable and innovative workspace architecture founded on low-carbon construction, circularity and natural materials (TTJ January/February 2023).

Standing 17.8m above the Shoreditch streetscape on the site of a former timberseasoning yard, The Black & White Building is the tallest engineered timber structure of its kind in central London.

With a hybrid engineered timber superstructure comprising beech LVL frame with CLT slabs and core, the seven-storey, 4,480m2 building demonstrates that timber is not just a viable structural solution for officebuilding, but a preferable option for both performance and sustainability. The timber structure is expressed internally, celebrating the natural beauty of the material throughout the wide-span open workspaces.

Designed with circular-economy principles, modern methods of construction and pioneering materials, the building demonstrates the positive impact these can have on performance, sustainability and efficiency in construction.

Species used were Austrian beech, German spruce and North American tulipwood, the latter supplied by the American Hardwood Export Council. Zueblin supplied the CLT, Pollmeier the LVL and Raico the composite timber and aluminium curtain walling.

SR Timber supplied the wood for Dragon Flat, which won the Interiors category.

AI-generated engravings adorn the timber wall panels and joinery of this refurbished 1950s council flat, bringing playful graphic detail to the renovated interior.

Brass clipped OSB boards are used as wallpaper for the tatami bedroom, and panels were whitewashed before being CNC-etched with floral motifs, creating contrast for the designs to stand out.

Exquisitely detailed pale plywood defines the interior aesthetic, forming a walkin wardrobe, raised tatami platform and wall-to-wall full-height cabinets. A floating perforated timber stair creates a striking feature, allowing light to filter through.

Refurbishment was taken to the next level for work at the Westminster Hall Roof and Lantern conservation project, which scooped the Restoration & Reuse category award.

Over a three-year period, this heritage project has expertly conserved Westminster Hall’s exquisite medieval hammer beam roof and repaired its gothic roof lantern.

A Grade-I listed building within a World Heritage Site, Westminster Hall was originally completed in 1097 before being remodelled in the late 14th century into the gothic masterpiece it is known as today, with the addition of its magnificent hammer beam roof. With 13, 660-ton timber arches, it was the largest spanning structure in Britain for 500 years.

Taking cues from prior 1920s work to the roof, the repair approach to the medieval trusses involved the skilled use of traditional carpentry methods and physical fixings to provide reversible and honest repairs to the structure.

Having been bomb-damaged in World War II and rebuilt in the 1950s, the lead-clad timber roof lantern was also re-detailed and repaired, using salvaged materials where possible, and requiring specialist carpentry work.

English oak from Kent was used in the project and was supplied by Dolmen Conservation Carpenters, which was responsible for the joinery. Work on the roof lantern was carried out by Sands & Randall Carpenters.

The Boathouse on the River Cam looked to Japan for its inspiration, with the Small Project category winner built using Japanese carpentry techniques and no mechanical fixings.

To minimise the environmental impact of the Boathouse, the building’s superstructure is made from English-grown larch and was carefully designed to avoid the use of glue, nails, or other fasteners. Instead, the timber members are notched and grooved, locking together to form a sturdy but flexible structure.

The light-weight walls are formed from removable screens set within the columns and held in place with timber pegs, so that they can be lifted away in summer when the boat is regularly used.

The pagoda-style curved roof is clad in recycled copper and the whole structure sits on a framework of ‘end of life’ scaffold poles hand driven into the riverbed.

The frame was crafted offsite in a carpentry workshop as a kit of relatively small parts that were then able to be self-assembled by the client and friends.

The National Trust’s Pentillie Estate supplied the timber and the contractor, Carpenter Oak, was responsible for the joinery.

The winner of the Education & Public Sector and the Structural categories was Benenden School, Centenary Hall and Music School.

By engineering timber to its fullest auditory potential, this world-class concert hall and music school buildings transform the musical and cultural education of Benenden’s pupils and the local community.

The elliptically shaped timber-frame Centenary buildings include a 750-capacity concert hall, able to accommodate the entire school and host visiting musicians, and a 150-capacity recital room with adjacent classrooms and practice rooms, providing a welcoming space for students to rehearse.

Due to its form and materiality, the quality of sound performed in the entirely bespoke timber-lined hall is comparable with concert halls across the world and has attracted world-class performances including the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Textured ‘flutterfree’ wood panels and a variety of plywood and veneer sheets are used throughout the buildings, putting acoustic quality at the forefront of the project. A striking diagrid shaped roof serves as both a structural and acoustic device, allowing sound to bounce around the bays and encouraging the volume to feel larger.

The wood supplier was Acoustic GRG Products and species used included maple ‘flutterfree’ T timber from Canada, birch plywood from Latvia and Finland, and oak from Denmark.

The winner of the Research & Innovation, and Small Project categories was Field Station, a 100m2 multi-purpose pavilion at Hooke Park.

Using Crown timber, often dismissed as forest waste, the pavilion marries technical innovation with a deep respect for nature and demonstrates the potential of modern architecture to contribute positively to woodland management.

Developed by students from the Architectural Association’s (AA) Design + Make postgraduate programme, the woodland pavilion serves as an open-air laboratory for long-term ecological studies, creating an interactive space for both the AA community and the public.

Mature beech, which grows in abundance in the 142ha woodland campus, was used for the pavilion’s primary structure – showcasing how this under-utilised resource can be transformed into an effective construction material.

In partnership with engineers at ARUP, a structural logic was developed, resulting in a distinctive space truss of beech roundwood braces within a dimensional ash grid. This innovative design allows a striking three metre cantilever on all sides.

By integrating computer visioning during robotic fabrication, the branch variations of the 256 roundwood braces could be adapted to in real-time. This technological innovation accommodates material eccentricities and shows how advanced manufacturing techniques can be harmonised with natural, irregular material to create scalable architectural solutions.

British-grown ash and Norway spruce also feature in the building.


Among the furniture and product design pieces that won their categories was Serenade by John Makepeace OBE, The Exchange Tables & Chairs by designers Mentsen with The Exchange Erith, and student winner Joanne Grogan (City & Guilds of London Art School) with Rocaille Morphosis – each showing outstanding talent in British design using wood. ­