WAN Wood in Architecture Award 2016 Winner Announced

WAN Wood in Architecture Award 2016 Winner Announced

Säie Pavilion in Helsinki and Tuusula, Finland by Aalto University Wood Program has been announced as the winner of the WAN Wood in Architecture Award


It is with great pleasure that we champion the Aalto University Wood Program as the winners of the WAN Award Wood in Architecture Award 2016 for Säie Pavilion in Helsinki and Tuusula – Congratulations!

The winner was selected from six shortlisted projects which were chosen by our esteemed jury panel: James Greaves, Partner at Hopkins Architects, Professor Richard Harris, Professor of Timber Engineering at the University of Bath, Yew-Thong Leong, Associate Professor and Managing Director at  Ryerson University / ssg architecture inc and Andrew Waugh, Director at Waugh Thistleton Architects.

The judges felt that all the shortlisted projects showcased the range of possibilities within the Wood in Architecture category, highlighting some fantastic examples of what’s possible in this sector. They were all in agreement that there was one clear winner on the day.


The Säie pavilion was designed and built by students of the Wood Program at Aalto University in Finland. The architecture of the pavilion makes reference to garden pavilions and gazebos as well as gothic architecture and the dense space of the forest. It uses bent and twisted wooden elements to create an intricate lattice-work of structure and a welcoming canopy for a variety of activities.

Rather than using glu-lamination, the complex geometry of the building is achieved through actively bending pine elements and fixing them together using joints of CNC-cut birch plywood.

Yew-Thong would like to see the skills and knowledge gained on this project transferred to similar programs: “While I’ve seen many wood forms and shapes replicating gothic arches and vaults, this is the first project that studies wood construction in such a manner. I hope that this program continues, as I can see how the knowledge gained can be transferred to other wood-like or fibrous materials such as bamboo, carbon-fibre, etc.”

The pavilion was initially built in the courtyard of the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki. The following year, the structure was moved to its permanent location in the main square of the city of Tuusula.

Andrew liked the overall look and details of the project: “I love this understanding, the kind of gothic structure and then a total re-examination and the fillet pieces. It’s just too beautiful.”

Richard commented on the engineering aspects of the Pavilion and also praised the innovation of the project: “It makes complete structural sense to do it like that, not just curvy roofs, but with flat roofs as well, pushing wood apart and using blocks, they’ve done the right thing, to set them back and use a shadow gap. What this project represents is innovation, through the use of computing, to get complexity in a computer and then fabricating it.”

James was also impressed and concluded by saying:  “I like the way you get the laminations from the roof. When you see it in the canopy, it’s really nice. I just know that if I walked on to that stage, I would absolutely love it.”

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank not only the jury, but all those who entered their projects into this years’ WAN Wood in Architecture 2016

Nick Myall
News Editor