The idea of the Timber Competition

The idea of the Timber Competition

The idea to organise a competition was in the minds of HWZ international team for a long time. After the success of the Hout Bay House research project, which won the attention of many architects and the public. After meeting many motivated architects and students, during events that we have hosted at Hout Bay House and those that attended the annual Wood Conference, we decided to offer young architects a platform in which they have chance to design with sustainable materials.

Perception of Timber

The South African perception of timber and timber constructions reflects for decades that the only valued material were brick and mortar or concrete. The tradition of timber constructions in some areas such as Knysna usually shows timber as a nice material, however many of the constructions can’t be described as modern and not all homeowners dream about a rustic house. This is one of the reasons why many people, who think sustainably in other aspects of their life, often decide for a conventional construction and don’t think about timber as possible solution.   

Experienced architects with a passion for timber and other sustainable materials, often design conventional constructions where timber is used only as a design element, because their customers don’t trust timber enough to have it as bearing construction.  

This was the reason why we wanted to give the young architects a chance and motivation to design a modern sustainable timber construction, learn more about modern ways of manufacturing timber and have a reference that they can show to their customers and colleagues. Simultaneously we wanted to show, that inspirational timber designs are not only made  by Swiss or Canadian architects, South African architects have plenty of ideas and the submitted projects show how big the variety is – from smaller and low-cost farm house to luxury villa, from city houses to homes set in wild nature.  

International Jury & Winner awards

Timber competition was open to students of architecture and young architects under the age of 35 years, who are South African citizens or residents. Individuals as well as teams were invited to design a sustainable timber home for our virtual couple John & Amy and their three kids.   The first prize for the best design is an internship in Czech Republic (middle Europe) including flight tickets and accommodation. The Winner will have a chance to spend a week in Domesi studio who specializes in modern timber constructions, visit the Novatop CLT production and meet aspiring people with passion for timber & sustainability. The winner will be chosen by an international jury consisting of three South African and one Czech architect. Richard Stretton, head of the jury and architect from Durban, is known for his passion for timber and promoting this sustainable material. Mano Kalos, architect based in Cape Town, works in his designs with harmony as one of the most important elements and loves to incorporate timber. Ivan Jonker, experienced senior architect from Cape Town, was involved the Ark Angels Kindergarten project (first South African Kindergarten built from CLT). Pavel Horak, Czech architect, brings the international point of view and his studio Domesi who will also host the winner of the competition.  

Team behind the competition

The Timber Competition is organized by HWZ International SA team, supported by the Wood Student Foundation and connected with the Hout Bay House research project and Wood Conference, which offers an amazing platform to introduce the designs and their authors.

HWZ International SA is active on the South African Market since 2012, importing sustainable construction materials, such as CLT, also offers building solutions based on a long experience in European markets.  

Hout Bay House research project and show house was built in 2015 and is open to architects and public interested in green building. Workshops and other events as well as the research focusing wooden facades and composition of the wall, show, how timber performs in the climatic conditions of Western Cape.  

First Wood Conference took place in Cape Town in 2011 with 70 participants in attendance and over the years it is regularly visited by 600-700 architects, builders, students and other professionals.

The Wood Students Foundation was founded at the second Wood Conference and its aim is to promote wood construction and encourage the students’ interest in timber. 


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