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Friday analysis: Tis the season for awards

Australian Timber Design Awards winner Furniture and Joinery – Art Gallery of NSW Library and Members Lounge by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects. Picture: Timber Development Association

It’s the awards season, it seems, with timber in many facets being celebrated across Australia and in New Zealand as well.

The “season” started with September’s Tasmanian Timber Awards where Forico’s Bryan Hayes was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to the Tasmanian Timber Industry award.

Last week we had the Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards in Mount Gambier, and last night the Australian Timber Design Awards as well as the New Zealand Timber Design Awards.

As Chief Executive Officer of the South Australian Forest Products Association Nathan Paine pointed out we are fortunate to have an industry that supports and elevates one another through sustainable and innovative practices whilst improving the sovereign capability of the sector.

He said that the Awards not only acknowledged those working and excelling within the industry by their peers but offers a platform to promote forestry and encourage stakeholders and skilled employees to the region.

While he was in fact referring to the Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards, his comments are applicable across the board.

The importance of the awards night in Mount Gambier, and the Green Triangle, to South Australia in general was highlighted by the attendance of the Premier of South Australia Peter Malinauskas and the Forest Industries Minister Clare Scriven.

Last night in Melbourne, ARM Architecture’s refit of the Sydney Opera House’s interior was been named overall winner of the 24th Australian Timber Design Awards.

The Timber Development Association’s Australian Timber Design Awards are a national competition to promote and encourage outstanding timber design in the built environment professions.

ARM Architecture had a mighty challenge to repair what had always been considered dodgy acoustics in the main concert hall.

The solution was an amazing refit using Brushbox around the stage, stall surrounds, and rear walls, replacing the original timber panelling.

Also, last night, the New Zealand Timber Design Awards were presented.

The top award went to a school building – Green School NZ’s “Kina” project – with timber involved from design process to execution to the end of its useful life, ensuring that timber was as sustainably sourced and manufactured as possible. This allowed it to be a beautiful building now, and at the end of its long life most of the timber elements will be able to be recycled.

These design awards in particular represent what can really be done with timber.

Yes, they show off what can be done when, in some cases, large amounts of money is available to fulfil a dream or idea.

But they represent much more than that.

As it was pointed out in New Zealand, 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”.

Same of course can easily be said about the Australian Timber Design Awards, with the organisers commenting that “we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future”.

Indeed, that is so true, right across the board.

As New Zealand director of Timber Unlimited Dr Robert Finch pointed out the “possibilities for timber aren’t limited to traditional uses anymore”.

Convening judge David Carradine added that “there is no limit to what can be done with this material”.