Wood Award winners crowned

23 November 2023

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

The multi-faith community complex, designed by James Gorst Architects for White Eagle Lodge, is a triumph of sustainable design. Located in Hampshire, the New Temple Complex celebrates the natural materiality of the area's local history to create a forward looking building characterised by peaceful simplicity and serenity. 

Open to the public, the building comprises orthogonal, timber-framed pavilions, connected by a cloistered walkway, facing onto a central courtyard garden. Within the complex exists a temple, library, chapels, multi-use community hall, public foyer and catering 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.

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.
“Congratulations to all the entrants in this year’s Wood Awards, especially the team behind New Temple Complex,” said David Hopkins, CEO of Timber Development UK, which organises the Wood Awards.
"At Timber Development UK, we spend a lot of time campaigning, promoting and educating about the role of timber in decarbonising construction, but there is no substitute for showing such wonderful live examples in practice.
"All of the winners and the shortlisted projects show the crème de la crème of British architecture and design. They show what can be achieved in terms of carbon reduction and design, with no need for compromise, when using timber as the main structural material. We hope this year’s entrants will inspire more designers to work with wood as their primary material and look forward to seeing more entries come forward next year.”

For the full list of winners, visit www.woodawards.com

The New Temple Complex won the coveted Gold Award