Timber structure tests new boundaries in construction

An experimental hardwood installation which can enhance the use of timber in construction will be exhibited during the London Design Festival.

“The Smile”, a 34-metre curved cross-laminated tulipwood tube, showcases the structural and spatial potential of cross–laminated hardwood using American tulipwood.

The structure is the result of a collaboration between the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Alison Brooks, Arup and the London Design Festival.

David Venables, European Director of AHEC, said:

“The Smile is the most significant advance because it will create the first-ever use of industrial-sized panels of hardwood CLT. This structure proves that hardwoods have a role to play in the timber construction revolution.”

Architect Alison Brooks said “The Smile” will offer “a complete sensory experience of colour, texture, scent and sound” to visitors willing to explore the structure from within.

“The Smile” has a curved design which touches the ground in the middle, with two raised open ends acting like “balconies to the city”. Perforations on the walls allow natural light to enter the structure during the day while linear light strips will illuminate the interior at night.


“The Smile” will be exhibited at the Chelsea College of Arts on 16 John Islip Street in London between 16 September and 12 October 2016.

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