Wood Awards winner: The Boathouse - Grand Designs Magazine

Timber-framed boathouse recognised in Wood Awards 2021

Among this year's Wood Awards winners is an affordable family home in a Devon AONB

By Victoria Purcell |

An exceptional family home, built in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in South Devon, has been recognised among the 2021 Wood Awards winners.

The Boathouse, a two-storey, four-bedroom house built into the hillside overlooking Salcombe Estuary in Devon, has won the Wood Awards 2021 Private Building category. The awards champion excellence in architecture and product design using timber.

Adams+Collingwood Architects embedded the property into the landscape to lessen its impact on the surrounding countryside – one of the key factors in helping the property gain planning permission. Another was the classification of the build as an Occupational Dwelling for a Rural Worker, since the owners maintain the traditional wooden sailing fleet that operates out of the nearby harbour.

Boathouse Wood Awards winner from outside

Photo: Jim Stephenson

Natural materials

Natural materials were also used to help it blend into its environs. The timber frame is made from wood sourced by the owners, who run a timber import business. Most of the wood is locally sourced, but the main beams were felled on Vancouver Island, Canada. Yellow cedar tiles and cladding adorn the roof and exterior, while the upstairs floor is made from Douglas fir. The lower floor is clad in stone, and it has a shingle roof.

Inside, the whitewashed timber frame and steel connectors are visible throughout the large, light-filled living space, and the eaves were inspired by thatched roofs. Below-ground, the emphasis is on stone and natural curves, from a curved bench and coat rail to curved doors.

Boathouse wood awards winner roof details and outside terrace

Photo: Jim Stephenson

An inverted house

With the lower floor of the house dug into the ground – so that it looks like a single-storey property from the land side –  the architect inverted the house with a long, open-plan kitchen and living area occupying the entire upper floor.

‘It is unusual for a house of such design quality to be affordable for a key worker and their family,’ said Robert Adams, of Adams+Collingwood Architects. ‘The client is a timber importer of specialised timber for wooden boat building. This timber is also fabulous material for use in buildings, but for someone who cannot buy it a trade price would be expensive.’

Open plan inside of Wood Awards winner with timber beams

Photo: Jim Stephenson

Attention to detail

The Boathouse is ‘a fabulous hand-built home with a wonderful story’, according to Wood Awards judge Kirsten Haggart. She went on to say: ‘The use of local materials, except for the two Canadian spruce trees, and local labour overseen by the owner, a craftsman with attention to detail and a rigour in his approach, make this a worthy winner.’

And what better showcase of boat-building talent could there be, than a house assembled with such craftsmanship using the very same materials?

Copper freestanding bath in luxury bathroom inside Boathouse Wood Awards winner

Photo: Jim Stephenson

For the full list of 2021 Wood Awards winners – including the Gold Award, given to the project that the judges deem to be the winner of winners – see woodawards2021.online