Architect Alison Brooks’ Landmark Project could be described as an unidentified object: a 34m long, 3m high upside-down arc poised on the urban horizon. Her project was also a spectacular urban pavilion that took the shape of a smile, its two ends viewing platforms which took in the sky and reached out to neighbouring buildings.
Constructed entirely from tulipwood, The Smile created an immersive environment that integrated structure, surface, space and light. Its two swooping cantilevered arms appear like a giant see-saw, yet the structure is balanced by the work of Arup - the project’s engineers, who constructed it from cross-laminated timber and using high-performance hardwood. The structure is forward-looking; not only pushing the barriers of complex structures, but demonstrating that the 21st century is an era not of concrete but of timber. Brooks, the project architect, observed that ‘it looks like high-quality flooring, too good to be structural - and that’s kind of amazing’. For AHEC, The Smile is one of the most important developments in a decade of research into structural timber innovation with structural engineers. For Brooks, it was an opportunity ‘to stretch the material to the limit’.
Supported by the American Hardwood Export Council, Arup, Züblin Timber, Seam, Atrium In partnership with the University of the Arts London
Global Design Forum: Masterclass
The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre
22 September, 3pm
£15, booking essential globaldesignforum.com