The advocacy for sustainable wood design continues to be on the rise around the world. Canadian organizations DBR | Design Build Research School and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) created the TREEHOUSING International Wood Design Competition, which addresses two ongoing global problems in today’s society: housing availability and deforestation.

The competition — which sought innovative sustainable wood designs — reeled in more than 200 submissions from architecture students, professionals, and engineers representing 60 countries.

Read on for more.

In two competition categories, entrants designed wood housing and affordable urban-building solutions for communities in Africa and for sites around the world. Proposals were required to use sustainably harvested wood material/product as the main design material.

Canadian architect and wood-design proponent Michael Green led the jury, which also consisted of British architect Andrew Waugh and South African architect Richard Stretton.

Check out the winners below.


The city of Durban allotted an abandoned 2,280 square meter site, 97 Ingcuce Road, at a major intersection near the city center to inspire tall wood housing projects.  Entrants had to design a high-rise solution that would address the community’s housing needs.

TREEHOUSING DURBAN – 1ST PRIZE (tie): “Jungle Gym” by Ayla Harvey (South Africa).

1ST PRIZE (tie): “Jungle Gym”
By Ayla Harvey | South Africa

Jury comment: ‘The jury appreciates this solution in the way in which it reinforces both the sense of community within the building and the opportunity for adaptive use over time. The solution is appropriate and in scale and in climatic response. The wood superstructure is playful and imaginative capturing the dynamic spirit of urban life.’

TREEHOUSING DURBAN – 1ST PRIZE (tie): “Nkosi Market” by Koura Studios and ARUP Seattle (USA).

1ST PRIZE (tie): “Nkosi Market”
By Koura Studios and ARUP Seattle | USA

Jury comment: ‘The Nkosi Market design represented the strongest point tower design of all the submissions.  The tower and the open canopy ground plane marry a traditional timber language with a modern tower expression.  The jury appreciated the appropriate ground plane response to the site and street edges and the use of locally sourced wood materials.  The submission shows a good understanding of South African forestry and forest products.’

TREEHOUSING DURBAN – STUDENT PRIZE: “The Social Net Wood” by STark – Tatiana Chaatziioannou, Soufiane Chibani (France/Germany).

STUDENT PRIZE: “The Social Net Wood”
By STark (Tatiana Chaatziioannou, Soufiane Chibani) | France/Germany

Jury comment: ‘This project was a strong favourite among the jury and recognized as a very competent and practical solution to the site and to the challenges of timber technology.  The scale and stepping of the building forms with their landscaped roofs are appropriate to the livability of the site and neighbourhood. There is a coherent spatial hierarchy on the ground floor with a perimeter block development and controlled interior courtyard scaling up through the height of the building.  This is considered to be an entirely buildable scheme and was a very strong submission.’

TREEHOUSING DURBAN Honorable mentions:

  • “Live-in filter” by Adrianna Colón and Isaias Rubert | Puerto Rico
  • “The Sky’s the Limit” by Javier Mosquera González | Spain


Applicants designed affordable wood housing for a site anywhere in the world, with a focus on improving and providing global housing solutions in wood. Solutions specific to the African continent were encouraged because of the location of this year’s World Forestry Congress.

TREEHOUSING GLOBAL – 1ST PRIZE: “(HOUSE)TREE(WORK)” by Shosholoza and Friends (Italy).

By Shosholoza and Friends (Shosholoza Onlus, Alessandro Cimenti, Paolo Scoglio, Sara Gambino, Amir Faridkhou, Chiara Rigotti) | Italy
Site: Ethiopia

Jury comment: ‘The jury loved this project and its clarity and simplicity.  The project illustrates the democratization of timber in design and the accessibility of the material, its processing and its application in sustainable rural communities.’

TREEHOUSING GLOBAL – 2ND PRIZE: “Temporary Dormitories for Mae Tao Clinic” by A.gor.a Architects (Thailand).

2ND PRIZE: “Temporary Dormitories for Mae Tao Clinic”
By A.gor.a Architects (Albert Company Olmo, Jan Glasmeier) | Thailand

Jury comment: ‘This project underscores the diversity of innovation scales that can be realized with wood construction. The designer responds to a real need with a practical affordable solution.’

TREEHOUSING GLOBAL – STUDENT PRIZE: “Natural Wood Skin” by Monika Wozniak (Poland)

STUDENT PRIZE: “Natural Wood Skin”
By Monika Wozniak – Poznań University of Technology | Poznan, Poland

Jury comment: ‘This project demonstrates wood at scale.  The jury appreciates this ambitious look at housing in large tower formats and the scale of ambition in working with advanced wood technologies.’

TREEHOUSING GLOBAL Honorable mentions:

  • “Mangrove housing: Healing the Estuary”; Site – Senegal by Nguyen Manh Hung and Dong Minh Anh | Vietnam
  • “A Home for Students and Refugees”; Site – Berlin by Marc Benjamin Drewes, Giulia Capello, Carolina Radaelli | Germany