Cross Laminated Timber and The Smile

Week 4 – Liam Matteson


Most recently, a structure called The Smile was created for the 2016 London Design Festival.  It is the first ever tube structure made from Cross Laminated Timber. It is also the first time that CLT panels will are at an industrial-sized scale. The Smile is incredibly innovative because its curved form allows it to cantilever from its center out into space. The goal for this structure was to create an environment that brings together the landscape and creates adventurous space for exploration. Cross Laminated Timber, or CLT, is on a trajectory to be the material of our era. Standard wood is known to be structurally weak in the cross direction of its fibers; CLT solves this problem. CLT is created by stacking small planks of hardwood (tulipwood) in successive layers which creates a sandwich-like construction. The planks are bonded together with structural adhesives and compressed to form a panel.


One may benefit from using CLT because of its lightweight and sturdy structure. CLT creates an environment that is fire-resistant, earthquake-resistant, and thermally rich. It also uses smaller pieces of timber that make CLT more ecological when compared to steel and concrete. The intent of CLT is to offer a multi-faceted, low-carbon and cost competitive wood. As of 2015, it is also part of International Building Code of Architecture.

The future of CLT is aiming for markets in commercial buildings like hotels, motels, and offices. In the future architects hope to use CLT in conjunction with concrete and steel which would broaden the horizon for the possibility of wood manipulation. Currently, CLT may be a bit too expensive to replace frame construction, but because costs are climbing for disaster readiness, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, there could be a future for CLT in residential construction.

Work Cited:

“The Smile” in London made from CLT





About matte184

Student @ University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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