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‘The Smile’ showcases the structural potential of CLT

Weight for weight, CLT is stronger than concrete and can be machined to incredibly high tolerances.

September 21, 2016 |

Photo courtesy of Alison Brooks Architects

On display at the Chelsea College of Art Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground as part of the London Design Festival, The Smile is a curved, tubular structure meant to showcase the structural and spatial potential of cross-laminated American Tulipwood and CLT in general.

The project, which was designed by Alison Brooks Architects in association with The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Arup, and the London Design Festival, measures 3.5 meters high, 4.5 meters wide, and 34 meters long and can be inhabited and explored by the public.

The Smile claims to be the first project in the world to use large, construction-sized hardwood CLT panels. The entire structure is made up of just 12 panels, each one measuring up to 14 meters long and 4.5 meters wide. The fabrication of these panels in a CLT production plant helped to showcase how the material could be used for commercial projects.

CLT is typically made from spruce, a softer wood, but Arup and AHEC have been experimenting with North American Tulipwood, which is fast-growing and has shown to be considerably stronger than spruce. Its appearance is also considered by many to be superior.

The structure is on display until the 12th of October.

You can view a time-lapse video of its construction below.



Photo courtesy of Alison Brooks Architects


Photo courtesy of Alison Brooks Architects

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