The Smile, winner of the Architizer A+Awards 2017 in the Cultural-Pavilions category. Photo credit: Architizer A+Awards
In the recently-concluded Architizer A+Awards 2017, The Smile won the Jury’s Award for the Cultural-Pavilions category. The structure was also shortlisted in the Pop-Ups, Temporary and Wood Categories.
A public pavilion designed by Alison Brooks Architects Ltd as an experiment, it quickly became a memorable part of the 2016 London Design Festival. Conceptualised as an inhabitable arc poised against the backdrop of the faraway horizon, The Smile provided visitors with an immersive sensory environment that combined light, space, structure, and surface. Constructed solely out of cross-laminated timber (CLT), the 34-metre-long space is dynamically curved and set up opposite Tate Britain in the Chelsea College of Art (UAL) Parade Ground. For a total of four weeks, the structure was open to the public and attracted around 30,000 visitors, and kindled a 290 million-strong following on social media platform, Instagram, with its remarkable advanced timber engineering, form, and sheer scale.
The opposite ends fixate on two views in particular – one end faces Chelsea College’s Edwardian façade, and other points to the crown of a tree. Small perforations that can be found running along the structure’s length express the forces bearing down on the CLT, and turning them into light patterns in the interior. The American tulipwood used is unique in its exquisite grain and fine finish, and coupled with its one-of-a-kind curved floor, natural scent of wood, and unusual acoustics, The Smile is considered “the most complex structure ever built in CLT”.
The project was initially conceived with the aim of attracting public attention with architecture and design while also simultaneously demonstrating tulipwood’s incredible properties. The timber is a hardwood tree species from North America that holds double the strength of softwood at half the weight. To prove it, The Smile’s 12 meter by four meter by three meter CLT cantilevers were specifically engineered to support up to 100 people at one end with only a one meter-deep timber footing, and making the structure one of the key developments in ten years of research into structural timber innovation by The American Hardwood Council and Arup.
The Architizer A+Awards is the largest awards programme that concentrates on celebrating and promoting the best architecture and products of the year. Its goal is to nurture a worldwide appreciation for meaningful architecture as well as advocate its positive impact on daily life. An international panel of judges, all industry leaders, nominate five finalists in each category, namely: architecture, art, design, fashion, and technology.
Source: Alison Brooks Architects Ltd, Architizer A+Awards