Gala dinner

The countdown is on.

24th October 2023

  • Timber Design Awards
  • ·
  • Events, Seminars & Workshops
  • ·

Timber - pushing the boundaries of the possible

For nearly 50 years, professionals across the New Zealand construction sector have been celebrating timber design and its usage and on November 2nd 2023, the Timber Design Awards are again being celebrated in Auckland.

“Now more than ever, it’s important we recognise and celebrate the engineers, architects, architectural designers and builders who push boundaries and embrace change by championing nature’s greatest building material, sourced from the country’s renewable, natural, resource-based forests,” explains Dr Robert Finch, Director of Timber Unlimited. “We exist to build belief in the possibilities of timber. To prove that timber is the smart choice – for now and in the future – and assist the industry in exploring the features and benefits of timber and how to use it to create better-built environments. Who better to help us do this than the Timber Design Awards.

After a three-year hiatus, Timber Unlimited is thrilled to be hosting the event, with a total of 18 companies sponsoring separate categories and aspects of the gala evening.

“It’s no mistake that we call ourselves Timber Unlimited,” agrees Awards Manager Debbie Fergie. “The possibilities for timber aren’t limited to traditional uses. We all know timber can be aesthetically beautiful as well as being an impressive building material, but this time, we’re also celebrating just how sustainable a sector this is. The rapidly increasing use of timber in so many innovative and exciting ways has the added benefit of sequestering CO2, helping us all transition to a low-emissions economy.”

Nearly 50 years ago, timber began to emerge from its traditional market position of two- or maybe three-storey buildings using slabs and plank. Architects and engineers became excited by the possibilities offered by glue-laminated timber members to span wide areas without additional supports.

Today, the 2023 Timber Design Awards present 12 different categories for structures that use timber in ways that push the boundaries of the possible, challenging steel and concrete as core construction materials or working with them in new and exciting ways.

An impressive panel of judges

Sorting another record-breaking number of entries into just 61 finalists, and ultimately into winners and runners-up, requires a profound understanding of architectural design, engineering skills and innovative thinking. The four judges selected this year are leaders in their sectors, and were uniformly impressed with the vision and expertise demonstrated by all the entries.

Convening judge David Carradine, now a senior structural research engineer with BRANZ and frequent Awards judge, confirmed that for him “there is no limit to what can be done with this material, especially combined with the advances in digital and manufacturing technologies that cater specifically to wood and engineered wood products.”

Jan Stanway is closely involved in the strategy and policy that supports the use of wood products, and is Technical Director for WSP in New Zealand. She is a national leader in the seismic design of non-structural elements, as well as Industry Champion for Fit for Purpose Building Components of the Building Innovation Partnership, a seven-year programme at the University of Canterbury.

Andrea Stocchero is a familiar figure in the Timber Design Awards judging panel and is currently a senior analyst, Sector and Bioeconomy Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service. He’s played a key role in research and innovation supporting the use of timber in construction, involved in the strategy and policy that supports the use of wood products. He’s also represented New Zealand in the timber design and construction sector of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Judith Taylor is current President of the NZ Institute of Architects, not only producing exciting work herself but also part of numerous initiatives that further the architectural industry in New Zealand, including setting up training programmes for NZ Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) assessors.

All judges felt the range of submissions demonstrated the innovation, dedication and creativity that exists within and across the New Zealand timber sector, from architectural and engineering design, manufacturing and fabrication, to “the builders and makers of these beautiful examples of what can be done with one of our greatest national treasures, namely timber.” 

Expanding categories proof of technological advances, and increased understanding

Creative architects and designers are continuing to challenge engineers with their demands to use timber in new and different ways that still maintain structural integrity, and the entries for the 2023 Timber Design Awards are proof of just how far the industry has come in realising this.

The Awards feature 12 different categories and a People’s Choice Award this year, reflecting the increasing number of ways timber is being used today, and its popularity among leaders in the field. This represents a 50 percent increase in categories over the last ten years.

Multi-Unit Residential Buildings, Mid-Rise Building Design and the exciting Hybrid Building are all new awards – confirming the great strides timber is making as a modern, technologically innovative material while also highlighting ways it can be used in conjunction with more conventional materials.

Finalists are featured on Timber Unlimited’s website  here, with each category’s sponsor. Judges have selected five finalists for each category, except the Hybrid Building one which has six, and the People’s Choice, which was naturally a free choice.

Timber may be the hero of the Timber Design Awards, but they also celebrate those people who “make it happen,” at the gala event held on November 2nd this year at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland.

It’s become a tradition over the last 48 years to meet others in the sector, form new friendships, share knowledge and celebrate the whole industry’s success at such events, and this year, a special Hybrid Building Seminar will take place on the same day, meaning even more knowledge can be shared in a convenient timeslot – especially for those who have travelled from out of Auckland.

It’s always an exciting, stimulating time for everyone who attends – and the plated (sit down) dinner with Te Radar as the MC will ensure this year’s event won’t disappoint.