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Refurbished council flat with ‘AI-generated’ engravings wins interior design award

Written by:
Timber Development UK (organisers of the Wood Awards)
Tim Crocker

The ‘intelligently designed’ Dragon Flat, by Tsuruta Architects, has taken the top prize for interior design at the Wood Awards 2023, in a ceremony yesterday evening.

Subtly reconfiguring the layout of a 1950s duplex council flat in West London, Tsuruta Architects has created a delightful and personal space that enriches the lives of its occupants through use of ordinary sheet materials, including OSB board and birch plywood.

The project embraces modern technology with AI-generated designs CNC-routed into the timber wall panels, bringing a playful graphic detail to the interior.

Exquisitely detailed pale plywood defines the interior aesthetic, forming a walk-in wardrobe, raised tatami platform and cabinets. Wall-to-wall full height cabinets in the living space, providing plenty of hidden storage, are engraved with a large-scale drawing of the River Thames, adding interest to their surface.

Brass clipped OSB boards are used as wallpaper for the tatami bedroom, paying homage to the humble beginnings of the flat. The panels were whitewashed before being CNC-etched with floral motifs, creating contrast for the designs to stand out.

A floating perforated timber stair creates a striking but sensitive feature. Allowing light to filter gently through its slats, this impressive feat of engineering required diligent prototyping to achieve. Digital fabrication methods and a limited material palette were used to produce the stairs and joinery, optimising material by nesting parts across components and minimizing waste.

Dragon Flat was built by JK London Construction, with wood supplied by SR Timber. The structural engineers were Structures Lab.

Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, the lead building judge, said:

“The scheme was perfectly designed for its clients and has resulted in a complete transformation of the space, impressively achieved using sheet material. From the engraved friezes to the architect-designed furniture to the hanging stair, this project shows intelligent design and an extraordinary level of integrity.”

The Wood Awards building judges, a team of world-leading professionals led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, visited all 20 buildings shortlisted in the Wood Awards before deciding the winners, in one of the UK’s most rigorous assessments for any competition.

Dragon Flat was not the only winner of the night, with this year’s best new timber building announced as New Temple Complex, designed by James Gorst Architects. The likes of Spruce House & Studio, The Black & White Building, Westminster Hall Roof & Lantern, The Boathouse, Benenden School, Centenary Hall & Music School and Field Station also all won their categories, showcasing the diverse use of timber, from large commercial offices through to intimate private homes. Among the furniture and product design pieces that won their categories was Serenade by John Makepeace OBE, The Exchange Tables & Chairs by designers Mentsen with The Exchange Erith, and student winner Joanne Grogan (City & Guilds of London Art School) with Rocaille Morphosis – each showing outstanding talent in British design using wood.

You can find out more information about the 2023 winners by visiting www.woodawards.com.

Dragon Flat by Tsuruta Architects, image © Tim Crocker

About the Wood Awards

The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood. Established in 1971, the Wood Awards recognises, encourages, and promotes outstanding wood design, craftsmanship and installation.

Through the Wood Awards, we aim to continually encourage British designers and manufacturers to aim ever higher in the design world and showcase some of their incredible achievements to a national and international audience.


American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC)

An international creative collaborator and invaluable material resource, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the global face of U.S. hardwoods, championing their performance, sustainability and aesthetic potential to timber markets all over the world.

Carpenters’ Company

The Carpenters’ Company is a City of London Livery Company. The Company was originally established as a medieval trade guild to safe guard the welfare and interests of carpenters in the City of London. Today, charitable activities and support for the craft of woodworking through scholarships, competitions and the Building Crafts College are the two cornerstones of its work.

Timber Development UK (organisers of the Wood Awards)

Timber Development UK has been formed from the merger of two of the largest and longest established organisations in the supply chain, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA).

Bringing these two associations together as one will create the largest, most comprehensive supply chain body in the UK, spanning from sawmill to specifier and all points in between. We want to use this new organisation to capitalise on the growing interest in designing with timber and to act as an agent of change towards more sustainable, low carbon forms of construction.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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