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Design growth and Black cultural blank: London design festival 2016


Example of white dominant design culture

London design festival 2016: for this year’s edition of the city-wide event, alison brooks architects has designed ‘the smile’, a temporary urban installation that showcases the structural and spatial potential of cross laminated timber. made using american tulipwood, the publicly accessible structure forms a 3.5m high, 4.5m wide, and 34m long curved rectangular tube.

small apertures create a changing pattern of sunlight throughout the day



the smile is a huge curved hollow tube made of cross-laminated tulipwood,’ explains alison brooks. ‘it touches the ground at one point, like a wheel. entering the smile through an opening where the curved form meets the ground, the visitor can walk from end to end of the 34 meter-long tube to discover a new kind of space that gradually rises toward light.’


two open ends illuminate the funnel-like interior space, while simultaneously forming elevated balconies that overlook the city below. small apertures along the walls create a changing pattern of sunlight throughout the day, while at night, the interior is illuminated by linear strips that trace the structure’s curving floor.

two open ends illuminate the funnel-like interior space



in developing the landmark project, alison brooks architects collaborated with the american hardwood export council (AHEC), arup and the london design festival to conceive a cross-laminated tulipwood structure at the chelsea college of arts. the structure is displayed from september 17 until october 12, 2016.



london design festival 2016 preview: the smile



for AHEC, the project is one of the most important developments in a decade of research and development into structural timber innovation. ‘this structure proves that hardwoods have a role to play in the timber construction revolution,’ says david venables, european director of AHEC. ‘the smile is the most challenging structure ever constructed in CLT,’ adds andrew lawrence, associate director at arup. ‘every aspect is pushed to the absolute limit. it really shows the potential for hardwoods in construction.’

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