Best Use of Certified Timber Prize: discover the second highly commended prize!

The jury of the World Architecture Festival (WAF) awarded the second highly commended prize in the category Best Use of Certified Timber, supported by PEFC, to the Royal Academy of Music Theatre & Recital Hall in London.

Best Use of Certified Timber Prize: discover the second highly commended prize!

17 December 2018 Sustainable construction

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) is over, but what stays are the impressions of wonderful buildings, modern designs and sustainable constructions.

Besides the winning project in the category Best Use of Certified Timber, supported by PEFC, the jury highlighted two more extraordinary buildings. The second highly commended prize went to the Royal Academy of Music Theatre & Recital Hall in London.

By revitalizing the Susie Sainsbury Theatre, Ian Ritchie Architects created an extraordinary performance space, while also adding a new recital hall with a completely different ambience at roof top level.

A new building in a historic site

Designed for both opera and musical theatre productions, the new Theatre replaces a 1970s auditorium at the very heart of the Royal Academy of Music.

Within the existent walls and surrounded by listed buildings in Regent’s Park conservation area, the architects have created a new 309-seat theatre, lined in cherry wood and acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities.

Above the theatre and acoustically isolated from it, the new Angela Burgess Recital Hall provides a further 230m² space for recording and master classes.

The timber for both spaces comes from sustainably managed forests.

“Sustainable sourcing of materials is extremely important for us as a practice and our specifications always include a requirement for timber to be either PEFC or FSC certified,” said Brian Heron, Project Architect at Ian Ritchie Architects.

An extraordinary construction

In designing the new spaces, the architects took inspiration from the shape and construction of wooden string instruments. 

“Our earliest research into the materiality of wood, how it is transformed and tuned, led us to exploit the haptic qualities that finished wood would give as a reflector of sound, warmth and light,” Brian continued.

The Theatre is lined with cherry wood that, with its warm colour, recalls Stradivarius instruments while at the same time offers a fantastic reflection and diffusion of sound.

Rounding off the epic atmosphere of the Theatre, 600 crystals were installed in its ceiling, walls and balconies, giving the impression of an exploding chandelier.

While the Theatre is a space both intimate and epic, the Recital Hall is a tranquil and visually cool space. Entirely lined in pale, lime-washed oak, an oculus flooding the hall with daylight is the highlight of the room.

The Best Use of Certified Timber Prize supported by PEFC

World Architecture Festival awards prizes in various categories for celebrating outstanding architecture. Together with PEFC, WAF awarded the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize for the first time this year.

The prize recognises architects for their use of certified timber as a main construction material for buildings outstanding in sustainability, innovation, quality or aesthetics. The 2018 winner was International House in Sydney, designed by Tzannes architecture and built by Lendlease with PEFC-certified cross laminated timber (CLT) supplied by Stora Enso.

Designing the future with sustainable timber

Across the world, the architecture community is embracing solid and engineered wood to deliver high profile, award winning projects and everyday designs - from houses, schools and hotels to restaurants, theatres, supermarkets and swimming pools.

Under the theme Designing the Future with Sustainable Timber, a range of stakeholders have come together under the leadership of PEFC to promote the use of wood in construction in general and certified wood in particular. Join us! Contact us at

Photo credits: Adam Scott, RIBA


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