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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

Let's hear it for wood, and pointy things

Construction National blog logoIn September visitors to Timber Expo in Coventry will be able to preview the shortlisted projects for the Wood Awards 2012. This year the competition – celebrating its 10th year – has seen an unprecedented number of entries – so much so that the categories for furniture and architecture had to have the deadline for entries extended to June. In the past Construction National has had its front cover adorned with winning entries of marvellous beauty and fantastic design.

Also new this year the categories have been revamped: a new main category of Small Project has been introduced to separate it from the Private category, and the Conservation/Restoration category has become Repair and Adaptive Re-use, to allow for projects that have undergone "ingenious restoration" while being adapted for other purposes.

The chair of the judges is Michael Morrison of Purcell UK, who know a thing or two about timber and wood decoration. Formerly Purcell Miller Tritton, it is one of the most respected ecclesiastical and conservation architects' practices, with a pedigree dating back to 1947.

Following their trail at the Ricoh Arena the actual award winners will be announced on 27 November at Carpenters' Hall – where else?

Well, that's enough gushing from me. Readers of my corresponding column in this magazine's sister publication Environment UK will know about the cries of anguish that issued from some of the citizens of Cambridge when the Cambridge University Hospitals Trust announced its plans for the new energy innovation centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital. They weren't objecting to the plans to build a state-of-the-art energy production facility that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 30,000 tonnes a year (who could object to that). They were objecting to the building of three 200ft-high chimneys for the plant. Admittedly, looking at the CGI of the plant they are not the prettiest chimneys – what happened to making chimneys works of art in themselves, like the famous India Mill chimney in Darwen or the wonderful and sadly demised Colossus of Rhodes near Oldham? The current plant that is being superseded sports a natty pair of pipes encased in a brickwork sandwich. Thankfully it will remain.

However, the idea that building things that stick up into the sky is some horrid modernist idea just doesn't wash – like Blackpool Tower, for example, or Darwen Tower (Darwen again? It looks like rocket about to take off) or the Telecom tower in East London. As humans we've always celebrated our achievements by building pointy things so everyone can see how clever we are. I reckon the Addenbrooke's energy centre deserves a pointy thing. They could make it a bit more attractive, though.

Chris Stokes