Europe’s most impressive wooden facade is in the UK

Integrity and personality determined:
Europe’s most impressive
wooden facade is in the UK
The Gridshell at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, UK beat six other shortlisted projects from around Europe to take the top prize. The winning designers, Edward Cullinan and John Romer win a study trip for two to Japan, one of the world’s leading countries for designing and building with wood.“The gridshell exudes integrity and personality. Both building specialists and amateurs can appreciate the building. It’s as attention-grabbing to the man on the street as it is impressive in the eyes of engineers and architects,” say members of the jury, Hans Ruijssenaars from the Netherlands, Jan Söderlund from Finland and Ian Sharratt from Great Britain.

This is the first major gridshell to be constructed in the United Kingdom and is for the museum’s conservation workshop where their collection of historic timber-framed houses can be renovated. The open space, 50 m long, was assembled from layers of long slender green oak and was lowered from a flat mat into the shape of a triple bulb hourglass to form the shell of the structure. The resulting undulating roof is clad with red cedar boards – a rural building for the 21st century.

Second prize celebrates traditional handicraft
The jury decided also to award a second prize to the modern wooden church in Kärsämäki village in Finland. The project follows the building methods and ways of working applied in the 18th century and imple-ments the simple and rugged basic idea consisting of the heart made of timber and of the shingle-coated, black tarred coat surrounding it. In their judgement for awarding the second prize to Mr. Anssi Lassila, architectural student from Oulu University, the jury states: “With its archaic, simple form, this wooden church is an extremely elegant timber building and an excellent example of the careful use of traditional woodworking skills to produce a building that is totally modern in its concept, form and proportions – a rare example of the art of timber building.”

The Nordic Timber Council in cooperation with the European Timber Councils network and the Building Europe magazine initiated the competition.

Pictures of all the submissions can be found at – and in the 2004 issue of Building Europe, coming out later this year.

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More information about the projects can also be found at and

Nordic Timber Council AB is a joint wood promotion organisation funded by the wood products industries in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic Timber Council has a strategy of generic promotion of wood, based on environmental properties and sustainable forest management. The Nordic Timber Council focuses its efforts and aims on the European market to establish European cooperation in wood promotion. The objective is to increase the consumption of wood in Europe to 0.25 m3 per capita by 2010.