The Smile

Structural Award Winner 2017

Location: Chelsea College of Arts, London
Architect: Alison Brooks Architects
Client: American Hardwood Export Council/London Design Festival
Structural Engineer: Arup
CLT Manufacturer: MERK Timber GmbH, Züblin Timber
Main Contractor/Joinery Company: Aldworth James & Bond
Lighting Designer: SEAM
Balustrade Joinery: John Stidworthy
Wood Supplier: Various
Wood Species: American Tulipwood 

Conceived as a habitable arc, The Smile was a 3.5m high, 4.5m wide and 34m long curved timber tube that cantilevered 12m in two directions with viewing platforms at both ends. Up to 60 visitors could enter at one time through an opening where the arc touched the ground. Innovative solutions using long screws were developed, allowing the opening to be in the most highly stressed region. The Smile was the first project in the world to use large hardwood CLT panels, the entire structure was made from just 12 tulipwood panels, each up to 14m long and 4.5m wide. The CLT panels were connected with 7,000 self-tapping screws. At the base, a glulam timber cradle filled with 20 tonnes of steel counterweights, allowed the project to be self-supporting. Perforations in the walls, concentrated in areas where there was less stress in the structure, brought dappled sunlight into the interior and dispersed where the timber was structurally working harder.

  • Date November 22, 2017
  • Tags 2017