The WAF shortlist – a library, a distillery and a university campus re-imagining timber construction

Have a look at the last three finalists for the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, supported by PEFC, and discover the versatility and special atmosphere of timber buildings!

The WAF shortlist – a library, a distillery and a university campus re-imagining timber construction

4 September 2019 Sustainable construction

This week, we present the last three finalists for the World Architecture Festival’s Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, supported by PEFC: a library open to everybody, a distillery in disguise and a campus that challenges existing construction processes.

Helsinki Central Library Oodi – ALA Architects

Central Library Oodi is constructed as an indoor public space, acting as Helsinki’s common living room, work space and learning environment.

The design divides the functions of the library into three levels: an active ground floor, a peaceful top floor, and an enclosed in-between volume area containing the more specific functions.

The column-free ground floor consists of a multipurpose hall, a cinema and a lobby space, suitable for all kinds of events. 

On the middle floor, flexible rooms, group working areas, recording studios and editing rooms inhabit the spaces between the trusses of a bridge structure.

On the top floor, features of a traditional library meet the most recent technologies, inviting visi­tors to read, study and relax. The floor offers unobstruct­ed panorama views of the city centre through the floor-to-ceiling windows and from the large rooftop terrace.

The building’s wooden façades are a prime example for modern timber construction. Made from pre-fabricated modules of locally sourced and PEFC-certified spruce, they were manufactured using algorithm-aided paramet­ric 3D-design methods.

Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience – Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

In the Scottish Highlands, Macallan Distillery welcomes visitors to see the production processes at the 18th century Easter Elchies manor estate, in which the famous whisky has been created since 1824.

Cut into the sloping contours of the site, the building takes its cues from the ancient Scottish hills. The undulating roof structure and the grass surface maximise the aesthetic beauty, whilst minimising the visual impact on the landscape.

The unique timber roof, manufactured by Wiehag, is a prime example for sustainable construction. Comprising 380,000 individual components and 1,750 PEFC-certified glulam timber beams, it is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world. During construction, 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades were employed onsite. 

The project has sustainability at its heart: steam generated from an adjacent forestry commission biomass plant is the primary energy source for distillation. Low‑grade waste heat from the production process is then captured to supply hot water for the visitor centre and underfloor heating.

Future Africa Campus – Earthworld Architects

Future Africa Campus consists of various constructions, including a dining hall, a conference centre, research rooms and 300 living units.

The project required a holistic approach, focusing on how architecture can play a role in fostering critical thinking and research. The intention of the architects was to challenge existing design and construction processes.

In order to minimise construction time, large parts of the campus were prefabricated and assembled on site.

For the dining hall, designers and manufacturers developed flat-pack, structural timber portal frames to carry its envelope. Designed in segments, the portals were transported to the site and assembled in a matter of hours, reducing the need for water, shuttering and heavy machinery.

The campus was constructed with potential future expansions in mind. The architecture of the campus should play an active role in shaping minds, as much as it does in shaping environments.

The Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, supported by PEFC

For the second time, the World Architecture Festival and PEFC will reward the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, recognising architects for using certified timber as a main construction material for buildings outstanding in sustainability, innovation, quality or aesthetics.

39 architects from 18 countries entered their projects into the prize. The winner will be selected at the WAF in Amsterdam, on 6 December 2019.

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 offices, 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: ALA Architects - Tuomas Uusheimo, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Earthworld Architects - Lourens Uitenweerde

Keep in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter