Alison Brooks Architects has collaborated with The American Hardwood Export Council, Arup, and the London Design Festival to present 'The Smile,' a cross-laminated tulipwood structure. The installation will be on view on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground of the Chelsea College of Arts from September 17 to October 12.
The Smile showcases the structural and spatial potential of cross-laminated hardwood using American tulipwood. The urban installation is one of the Festival's Landmark Projects; a timber structure that can be inhabited and explored by the public. With expertise from Arup, and using construction sized panels of hardwood CLT for the first time, Alison Brooks' concept is a spectacular 3.5m high, 4.5m wide and 34m long curved rectangular tube - the first ever hardwood 'mega-tube.'
"The Smile is a huge curved hollow tube made of cross-laminated tulipwood," said Alison Brooks. "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 34-metre-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 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."