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The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

Alison Brooks Architects

Alison Brooks Architects has designed The Smile, a massive and interactive urban installation for the 2016 London Design Festival. Brooks teamed up with engineering firm Arup and the American Hardwood Export Council to create the 34-metre-long structure, which they describe as the “first project in the world to use large hardwood CLT panels”.

On display at the Chelsea College of Art until 12 October, the Smile is one of the Festival’s landmark projects, which can be inhabited and explored by the public.


“The Smile is a huge curved hollow tube made of cross-laminated tulipwood. 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-metre-long tube to discover a new kind of space that gradually rises toward light,” says Alison Brooks. “Along the walls, perforations allow sunlight to draw changing patterns on the floor throughout the day. The perforations also give the visitor an understanding of how the structure performs as they’re located in positions where there are fewer structural stresses. At night the interior is illuminated by linear light strips that trace its dynamic curving floor.”

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all images courtesy of Alison Brooks Architects