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A Year Full of Awards for Westonbirt, the National Arboretum

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Sophie Nash

Westonbirt Arboretum staff are celebrating following an unprecedented 18 months of awards for the Westonbirt Project and for the Forestry Commission, for two distinctive architectural gems, the STIHL Treetop Walkway and the Wolfson Tree Management Centre (a Mess Building for the tree team and a spacious Machinery Store).  Since the project’s completion in 2016 the arboretum has been granted awards from a variety of professional bodies and groups ranging from architecture, accessibility to interpretation and engineering.

The STIHL Treetop Walkway, at 300 metres in length and the longest of its kind in the UK, provides visitors with breath-taking views of the landscape and the surrounding trees.  The Wolfson Tree Management Centre provides vital space for the tree team to store and maintain machinery as well as a space to meet and plan daily activity. Both projects were made possible by support from the arboretum’s partner charity the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum who helped raise £2.4million from individuals, corporate sponsorship and trust funding.

For the STIHL Treetop Walkway we have won six awards, received four commendations and made the shortlist for another nine awards!  These include; a fitting Wood Award in 2016 recognising, encouraging and promoting outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood winning the Commercial and Leisure category, a Civic Trust Award, a CPRE Gloucestershire Award and a RIBA regional award. 

Other recognition included a commendation for the Structural Steel Design Awards, Runner-up for the Association of Heritage Interpretation Award and commended in the Blueprint ‘Best Public Use of public funding’.  At the end of 2017 we attended the last award event for the STIHL Treetop Walkway and received a highly commended from the Architects’ Journal.

Showcasing what can be achieved using Westonbirt’s own and locally sourced timber for a limited budget and support from volunteers, the Wolfson Tree Management Centre has also received some very prestigious awards and nominations. These include a national and regional RIBA award, RIBA sustainability award and nominations at national level at the Stirling Prize event for the Stephen Lawrence prize and Client of the Year for the Forestry Commission for the STIHIL Treetop Walkway and the Wolfson Tree Management Centre. 

Sophie Nash, Westonbirt Project Manager said:  “It is fitting that these unique and beautifully designed buildings and structures are recognised for the prize-winners that they are – from the design concepts, the use of materials and the end use and enjoyment by visitors and staff alike each deserves these awards and Westonbirt Arboretum staff are rightfully proud of what has been achieved and look forward to 2018!”

Stunning images available on request