The flexibility of wood was demonstrated by students throughout Ireland at the 2015 Third Level Student Wood Awards organised by the Wood Marketing Federation (WMF). Presented by Minister of State Tom Hayes on 2 June in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, wood was researched for large-scale multi-storey buildings down to fashion accessories such as bow ties.
UCD student Liam Farrelly, winner of the architecture award, explored the use of timber in construction as a more sustainable alternative to concrete and steel. Liam explained that his project was “based in the Dublin Docklands, my project consists of a multi-storey flexible framework incorporating numerous types of accommodation. Constructed almost entirely from timber, and designed for the parameters of natural daylight and ventilation, my project acts as a more sustainable option to the typical modern-day office block.”
Queen’s University Belfast student Graham Watson, winner of the engineering award, also looked to timber as a building material. Graham completed a research project to create “a lightweight, low cost timber floor cassette that could compete structurally with precast concrete floor units.”
GMIT Letterfrack student Seán Burns was the winner of the innovation category with his design for a process that would produce curved forms. This he achieved by utilising advanced CAD software “to unfold curved and organic 3D computer models” as he put it “so that wood can be used in a variety of bowed and rounded applications in design.” His fellow student Paul Sweeney received special merit award for his project ‘WoodBows.’ This is a collection of wooden bow ties sourced from a range of hardwoods – home grown and imported – complemented by textile design details. His company WoodBows incorporate the use of CNC technologies to cut out the ties to the highest standards and specifications. Paul just missed out on the design award to Stuart Hayes who produced an occasional table created from a variety of timber offcuts – home gown and exotic. Entitled ‘Incognito’, the table is functional but also works as a design object. It has hidden and movable panels that present a ‘Rubik’s Cube’ type puzzle to the viewer.
The awards featured a new craft/fabrication category this year. It was won by Barry Flanagan, Bray Institute of Further Education, for his project ‘Scaffold Furniture’. Barry demonstrated that there is no waste in wood. He completed his furniture design project from waste scaffolding boards which otherwise would have been burned or end up in a landfill site. The awards were judged by Duncan Stewart, director Earth Horizon (chairman), Simon O’Driscoll, O’Driscoll Furniture and Des O’Toole, business development manager Coillte.