Stronger Than Concrete? Why This New Material Could Define Our Age

  • 2016-09-22
  • CNN

If the 19th century belonged to iron and steel and the 20th century belonged to concrete, could timber be the building material of our age?

That is the question posed by architect Alison Brooks' "The Smile," currently on display at the Chelsea College of Art and Design as part of this year's London Design Festival.

Constructed out of tulipwood, "The Smile" is a 34-meter long, 3.5-meter high (111.5 feet by 11.5 feet) rectangular tube that curves at both ends into a huge Cheshire cat grin. Viewers can wander through the hollowed interior, while holes in the walls cast light patterns across the floor.

It is the most complex structure ever to be made out of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and, as such, it is one of the most exciting installations at the UK's largest design festival.

"It's going to open up a whole new world of possibility," says Brooks. "It reveals the possibility of buildings being completely fabricated in wood."