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The Results Are In! TimberFever Winners Announced

Our second annual #TimberFever Design-Build Challenge is over, and we put architectural science and civil engineering students from Ryerson University to the test. They were tasked with designing and building an Urban Refuge out of wood. The event was a tremendous success and we couldn’t be more excited to show off our winners!

The students were placed into 8 teams, all named after local species of trees – Butternut, Dogwood, Blue-Beech, Sugar Maple, Sycamore, Trembling Ash, Sassafras and Ironwood. The design brief was revealed on the evening of Thursday September 22, and the teams had until Sunday at noon to complete their structures. This was 36 hours of sweat, sawdust and amazing results!


“Definitely fun, it’s a perfect day to do it, meeting a lot of people, interacting with a lot of people.”

– J.P. 4th year architecture student


Design Brief

Students were tasked with designing and building an Urban Refuge – a private space where at least one person can sit or stand in to disconnect from the rush of urban life, and reconnect with nature.

Life in a big city is full of activity, excitement and energy. Cities are our homes, the centre of our economies, our sources of entertainment and culture. Our cities shape us and we shape them. And within every city lies hidden potential for re-imagining spaces.

The students were required to create a refuge for anyone in Toronto’s community of 2.8 million people to step out of the city and find peace for a few minutes.

As one of our favourite building materials, wood allows the students to demonstrate to us how adaptable it is for creating environments so compelling that even a 6-year-old child can’t wait to get inside (see the Dogwood project below). Each team was provided with lumber, plywood, a wood base, screws, nails and metal brackets. And this year, two new elements: fabric and one access ramp.

“In the beginning it was challenging, there are so many perspectives to take into account, math, aesthetics, but we very quickly found common ground. We started talking like each other, it was good.”

– M.S. 3rd year civil engineering student


Judging Criteria

Judging was based on concept, design development, construction and the presentation of the completed Urban Refuge. The judges were looking for form, sculpture, drama, colour and beauty.

All projects were impressive and high calibre. They all survived the stress test and resisted gravity and lateral forces.

The weights were scaled down from real life to the scale of the models: 135 lbs of steel plates were placed on the roof, and there was 45 lbs of horizontal pushover.

“We’re going to learn how to use all the machines. I’m also working with real architects, real carpenters and real engineers, not an opportunity that we get everyday. That’s really exciting!”

– J.G. 2nd year architecture student



1st Place Winner: Team Blue-Beech for “Nest”


“The engineers always want things to work structurally, but the architects think about things spatially…it actually worked out really well because it’s a really good compromise and we’re each getting our own way, each sacrificing some things.”

– J.P. 4th year architecture student


Judges’ comments: “Nest” was selected for its use of volumes, founded on a strong structural basis and rules. As one enters the refuge, there is a procession into space and intrigue as the structure reveals itself. The use of alternating large planes of colour fabric and plywood frame the view. The structure is sound.

2nd Place Winner: Team Sugar Maple for “Hive”


Judges’ comments: “Hive” is beautifully executed, pure and creates a very social, comfortable space. The golden honey seats work well inside a scheme that uses the honeycomb structure in large and small scale elements throughout.

3rd Place & People’s Choice Winner: Team Dogwood for “Tree-magination”


Judges’ comments: “Tree-magination” brings back memories of Expo 67 in Montreal. The repetitive triangular pattern is emphasized by the bright fabric. The highlight: a swing built by the students using the materials at hand – wood and hand-woven fabric. To the judges’ amazement, this project attracted a little girl to run in during judging. Undeterred by the crowd she started to swing away, proving that the students had created a compelling Urban Refuge.

People’s Choice Award

The People’s Choice Award is based on public voting. The structures were on display on Gould Street for one week, prompting users to vote online. We had over 1500 voters this year, and the winner was Team Dogwood for “Tree-magination.”


A Round of Applause

Thank you to all of our amazing sponsors, judges, mentors, and to everyone who helped make TimberFever 2016 an event to remember!

Finally, thank you to all the contestants and volunteers for their passion, collaboration, creativity and hard work. We will see great things from this future generation of architects and engineers.

Ryerson, you’ve made us proud again!

Check out our Twitter page for more photos @mosesstructures




If you would like to be involved in upcoming TimberFever competitions as a sponsor, judge or mentor, please email us at: [email protected]

For more information about the event, visit