As urban-jungle cats, we’re naturally drawn to icy steel-and-concrete buildings, but we can appreciate getting back to earthy basics.

A new design competition named Timber in the City: Urban Habitats encourages architecture students to tap into their inner lumberjacks and create a mid-rise, mixed-use complex in Red Hook using mainly wood.

The contest, hosted by Parsons The New School for Design, calls for proposals of a live-work project with affordable housing, a job training facility, a bike-share-and-repair shop and a “vocational, manufacturing and distribution center for the innovative use of wood technology.”

Students and recent grads are also asked to come up with innovative ways to incorporate wood in design and construction systems. The other sponsors of the contest are the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council.

The official contest site calls timber “an ideal green building material… well suited for a broad range of structural and aesthetic applications, it offers high performance characteristics; and wood is an economic driver to maintain forests and protect jobs in our communities.”

Entries will be judged on creativity, successful incorporation of the design with its surroundings, the use of timber/wood as a primary structural material and other architectural criteria such as building stability and aesthetics. Students have until March 6, 2013 to register and until May 22, 2013 to submit their project. Winners will be chosen next summer.


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