The Smile

PrizeWinner in Architectural Design / Small Architecture
Firm LocationLondon, United Kingdom
CompanyAlison Brooks Architects
Design TeamDesign Engineers: ARUP
ClientAmerican Hardwood Export Council (AHEC)

The Smile was a hugely successful landmark project for the 2016 London Design Festival. Located in Chelsea College of Art’s Parade Ground, this 136sqm public pavilion was constructed using large format cross–laminated hardwood panels and is the world’s most challenging CLT structure built to date. The Smile offered an immersive sensory environment, integrating structure, surface, space and light to form a public gathering place. Conceived as a habitable arc poised on the horizon, the pavilion took the form of a four sided curved timber tube that cantilevered 12 metres in two directions from its centre point – essentially, a segment of a 100m diameter circle. Visitors could enter the pavilion through an opening where the arc touched the ground, then move from end to end of the 34m long dynamically curved space, gradually rising toward light. Each open end offered a viewing platform to enjoy unique, framed views of London. The pavilion was pre-fabricated as 12 industrial-sized American tulipwood CLT panels , up to 14m long and 4.5m wide, the world’s largest engineered timber panels in terms of production. With 30,000 visitors and 290m online views, the Smile sparked delight in a global audience with its spectacular scale, pure form,and advanced timber engineering.