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London Design Festival 2016: The Smile

SEEN was delighted and intrigued to view and walk through ‘THE SMILE’, the cantilevered installation that graces the at the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art. It is a monumental work that perfectly demonstrates the technique of cross-laminated tulipwood construction.

SEEN was delighted and intrigued to view and walk through ‘THE SMILE’, the cantilevered installation that graces the at the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea College of Art. It is a monumental work that perfectly demonstrates the technique of cross-laminated tulipwood construction.

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‘The Smile’ is a collaboration between the American Hardwood Export Council, Alison Brooks Architects, Arup and the London Design Festival. It is a Landmark Project that can be explored and inhabited by visitors. Its dimensions are truly enormous; essentially ‘The Smile’ is a 3.5m high x 4.5m wide x 34m long ‘megatube’ – the first of its kind.

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Constructed from cross-laminated panels that have been compressed for extra strength, ‘The Smile’ can be seen as the bottom segment of a vast wheel. The visitor can walk from end to end upwards towards the light at each end. The effect is almost like being at the prow of a ship. The colour, scent, texture and sound immerse the visitor as they make their way up and down the slopes of the interior. SEEN availed themselves of constructed ovals in the wood as hand-holds. These gaps also display a cross-section of the lamination as there are fewer stresses here, and admit differing qualities of light, creating patterns on the interior surfaces. At night the structure will be lit in a way that emphasises the curving floor.

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‘The Smile’ demonstrates the extreme uses that cross-laminated hardwoods can be put to in an innovative and visitor-friendly way. It is hoped that the project will change how architects and engineers view the use of hardwoods in timber construction. It is on display until 12th October, and SEEN recommends that you see it.

www.londondesignfestival.com

Rootstein Hopkins Courtyard
Chelsea College of Art
16 Sir John Islip Street
London
SW1P 4JU

Credits

Photographer Dav Stewart