The Smile




17 - 12 October: 10am - 9pm

Free Event


Landmark Project

Architect Alison Brooks’ Landmark Project could be described as an unidentified flying object: a 34m long, 3m high upside down arc poised on the urban horizon. Her project is also a spectacular urban pavilion that takes the shape of a Smile. Open until 12 October.

Architect Alison Brooks’ Landmark Project could be described as an unidentified object: a 34m long, 3m high inverted arc poised on the urban horizon. Her project was also a spectacular urban pavilion that took the shape of a smile, its two ends designed as viewing platforms which looked on to 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 appeared like a giant see-saw, yet the structure was balanced by the work of Arup - the project’s engineers, who constructed it from cross-laminated timber and by using high-performance hardwood. The structure was 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 was 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


Alison Brooks
Global Design Forum: Masterclass
The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre
22 September, 3pm
£15, booking essential


Alison Brooks Profile

Alison Brooks was born in Canada and studied at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She founded Alison Brooks Architects London in 1996 and has since received international acclaim for her work in housing, buildings for the arts and higher education. Current work includes a new Oxford University College, a Maggie’s Centre and major residential developments across the UK. Alison Brooks lectures widely and is External Examiner at the AA and Bartlett UCL. Recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Waterloo, she a CABE/Design Council National chair, member of the RIBA Awards Group and Trustee of London Open City. 

London Design Festival

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival feature hundreds of events taking place across London, showcasing the city's pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2018 will be held 15-23 September, featuring over 400 Partners, Landmark Projects, and V&A Commissions.

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