London 2016 – On the occasion of The London Design Festival, Alison Brooks Architects inaugurated The Smile urban installation made of cross-laminated tulipwood. The project opens to new applications of sustainable fast-growing timber and was developed with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Arup and Merk.
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Visitors enter from a central door at the front and can climb up to the open balconies at either ends. “The smile’s form implies that it will rock. It is an invitation to test whether the pavilion moves, and how it feels to walk in on a curved floor” said Alison Brooks who referred to the pavilion as “something like our archetypical image of Noah’s Ark”.
The pavilion shows the versatility and potential of sustainable timbers in architecture. Using construction sized panels of hardwood CLT (cross laminated timber) for the first time, Alison Brooks’ curved rectangular tube is 3.5m high and 36m long.
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The very pure and efficient structural form is made with just 80 cubic metres of fast-growing tulipwood to create a 180 square metre space. The walls are only 10 cm thick. The forces of tension and compression working in the timber CLT walls are expressed by perforations in its elevations – Below: Dancers from the RMC Dance Company perform at the opening, photos by Guy Bell.
At night,, The Smile becomes an urban lantern. The light coming from the balconies at both ends creates an endless smile while the holes on the sides generate patterns of light. The pavilion will be open until the October 12 and is located at Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art, London.
“AHEC, in collaboration with ARUP, has been on a 10 year journey of exploration, innovation and research to prove that hardwoods have a role to play in the timber construction revolution” says David Venables, European Director of the American Hardwood Export Council.
“The Smile is important because it will create the first-ever use of industrial-sized panels of hardwood CLT (cross laminated timber). This is the creation of a brand-new product and a new use of hardwood that could transform the way architects and engineers approach timber construction”
Photos by Dan Stwart and Guy Bell. Courtesy of London Design Festival.