A Smile by Alison Brooks for London Design Festival 2016
Architect Alison Brooks created an inhabitable “mega-tube” of cross-laminated timber called “The Smile” with both of its ends raised up into the air. With the help of engineering firm Arup and the American Hardwood Export Council they created the 34 metre long structure, described as the first project in the world to use large hardwood CLT panels or another word for engineered timber which is taking over from steel and concrete as the wonder material of the 21st Century for Architectural purposes.
The Smile pioneer used laminated tulipwood which is a fast-growing hardwood from North America that offers greater strength. As Brooks mentioned, "By making this CLT 'tube' into the shape of an arc at a huge scale, the plates form a dynamic, sensory space to inhabit," she continued. "The result is a building that cantilevers from a single point in the centre."
"The Smile's form implies that it will rock," said Brooks. "So the form itself is an invitation to test whether the pavilion moves, and how it feels to walk in on a curved floor.” describing the experience of the whole installation. The architect describes the experience of entering as "something like our archetypal image of Noah's Ark".
"The door light spilling from the ends of the arc will invite you to walk up the slope of the curve to balconies at either end, rather like looking out from the rail of a ship," she added. Another fact about the artwork, mentioned by Brooks, is that if you turned the structure vertically and added weight of 60 visitors at one end, it’s equal to the core of a five storied building.
Born in Canada but now based in London, Alison Brooks founded her studio Alison Brooks Architects in 1996. Past projects include a new model for suburban housing in Essex and an angular house extension in north London.
The Smile is located at the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art in Southwest London, until 12th of October 2016.
And.. That's It!