Alison Brooks Architects, Arup & American Hardwood Export Council designs first ever hardwood ‘mega-tube’
The American Hardwood Export Council has collaborated with Alison Brooks Architects, Arup and the London Design Festival to present a cross-laminated tulipwood structure on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground of the Chelsea College of Arts from 17 September until 12 October.
Brooks has designed ‘The Smile’, an urban installation that showcases the structural ad spatial potential of cross-laminated hardwood using American tulipwood. The Smile is one of the Festival’s Landmark Projects; a timber structure that can be inhabited and explored by the public.
With expertise from top engineering firm Arup, and using construction sized panels of hardwood CLT for the first time, Alison Brooks’ concept is a spectacular 3.5-metre-high, 4.5-metre-wide and 34-metre-long curved rectangular tube – the first ever hardwood ‘mega-tube’.
Alison Brooks said: “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. All four sides of The Smile’s interior will be made of same beautiful hardwood panels as the structure. It will offer a complete sensory experience of colour, texture, scent and sound. The Smile’s two open ends will illuminate the funnel-like interior space and act as balconies to the city.
Along the walls, perforations will allow sunlight to draw changing patterns on the floor throughout the day. The perforations will 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 will be illuminated by linear light strips that trace its dynamic curving floor.”
For AHEC, The Smile is one of the most important developments in a decade of research and development into structural timber innovation with Arup, and one that could broaden the use of CLT in the construction industry. Andrew Lawrence, Associate Director, Arup says, “The Smile is the most challenging structure ever constructed in CLT. Every aspect is pushed to the absolute limit. It really shows the potential for hardwoods in construction.”
This creation of a brand-new product and a new use of hardwood will transform the way architects and engineers approach timber construction.
“This structure proves that hardwoods have a role to play in the timber construction revolution” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC. “All our previous LDF projects – Timber Wave, Out of the Woods, Endless Stair and The Wish List – have been significant projects.
“But The Smile, designed by Alison Brooks Architects, is the most significant advance because it will create the first-ever use of industrial-sized panels of hardwood CLT. These panels will be produced by Züblin Timber in Germany, one of the pioneers of this manufacturing process. They believe in the potential of tulipwood CLT as bringing a revolutionary new element to wood construction.”
Arup’s engineering team is working to derive the most efficient structural form, using only 60 cubic metres of wood to create a 150 square metre enclosed space. The forces of tension and compression working in the CLT walls will be expressed by perforations in its elevations. ABA has used these to generate patterns of light across The Smile’s interior spaces during the day, it will become an urban lantern at night.
“The Landmark Projects are a key part of the Festival’s commissioning programme. They are at a scale that gets noticed and are always in major public places reaching a very wide audience”, says Ben Evans, the Director of LDF. “The choice of architect is key and Alison Brooks Architects are known for their innovative use of materials. Alongside a strong commitment to ambitious ideas they made an ideal choice for this year’s Landmark project with AHEC.”
For over 20 years the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has been at the forefront of wood promotion in Europe, successfully building a distinctive and creative brand for US hardwoods, AHEC’s support for creative design projects for the London Design Festival demonstrate the performance potential of these sustainable materials and provide valuable inspiration.
Read the July 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine
Skanska invests $225m in Houston office project
Skanska is investing US$225m in an office development project, 1550 on the Green in Houston, with construction expected to begin in June and scheduled to be completed in 2024.
The construction contract is worth US$125M, which will be included in the Q2 order bookings. International law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has signed a 15-year lease for about 30 percent of the building.
Located at 1550 Lamar Street, adjacent to Discovery Green, in downtown Houston, Skanska plans to develop and build a 28-floor, 34,800 square meter office tower.
1550 on the Green will be the first part of a three-block master plan by Skanska, which will transform the parcels into a distinguished district known as Discovery West and consist of 3.5 acres of mixed-use development full of restaurants, retail and lush green space. The project will target LEED and WiredScore Platinum certifications.
Since 2009, Skanska has invested a total of US$2.8 billion in commercial and multi-family projects, creating more than 1 million square meters of sustainable and community focused developments in select U.S. markets. Skanska USA had sales of SEK66 billion in 2020 with 7,600 employees in its operations.
Skanska’s flagship London office has set the standard in sustainable workspaces by becoming the first in the UK to achieve WELL Platinum under the new v2 pilot scheme.
The accreditation from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was awarded through the v2 pilot, the newest version of the WELL Building Standard. It looks at all building features and management processes – from air and water quality to lighting, acoustics, nutrition, thermal comfort and mental wellbeing. It’s widely recognised as the industry yardstick for measuring how workspaces can contribute to the wellbeing of occupants.
The offices – which span three floors of the newly developed 51 Moorgate – contain floor-to-ceiling windows for extensive natural light, dedicated wellbeing and quiet spaces, as well as stringent air and water quality monitoring, among a range of other features that have helped earn the standard.
The company has also been exploring drone flights for use in industrial environments.
Peter Cater, Development Manager, said it was invited to carry out trials because of its use and knowledge of drone capability. "The trials have benefited everyone involved: sees.ai get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation."
“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in. We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”