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Alison Brooks designs timber 'smile' for London Design Festival

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects
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Alison Brooks has designed this banana-like timber structure to sit in the grounds of the Chelsea College of Arts during this September’s London Design Festival


Named The Smile, the curving structure will be built from cross-laminated tulipwood and aims to showcase the structural and spatial potential of the material.

According to project backer the American Hardwood Export Council, the 3.5m-tall and 34m-long curved rectangular tube will be the ‘first ever hardwood mega-tube’.

It heralded the scheme, which will be the first use of industrial-sized hardwood CLT panels, as a ‘significant advance that brings a revolutionary new element to wood construction’.

The installation will open to the public on 16 September and will be in place until 12 October.

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

Architect’s view

The Smile is a huge curved hollow tube made of cross-laminated tulipwood. It touches the ground at one point, like a wheel. Entering The Smile through an opening where the curved form meets the ground, the visitor can walk from end to end of the 34m-long tube to discover a new kind of space that gradually rises toward light. All four sides of The Smile’s interior will be made of the same beautiful hardwood panels as the structure. It will offer a complete sensory experience of colour, texture, scent and sound. The Smile’s two open ends will illuminate the funnel-like interior space and act as balconies to the city.

Along the walls, perforations will allow sunlight to draw changing patterns on the floor throughout the day. The perforations will also give the visitor an understanding of how the structure performs as they’re located in positions where there are fewer structural stresses. At night the interior will be illuminated by linear light strips that trace its dynamic curving floor.

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

Project data

Location London
Type of project installation
Architect Alison Brooks Architects
Client American Hardwood Export Council
Engineer Arup


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