Coordinating the build of an ambitious headline project at world leading design festival.

The Smile

London Design Festival


  • Project management
  • Site management
  • Joinery
  • Finishing

What we did

The Smile is a landmark project at the London Design Festival 2016. Designed by Alison Brooks Architects and engineered by Arup for the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). Being appointed principal contractor for key stages of the build, Aldworth James & Bond helped coordinate the installation of this ambitious structure at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL. The structure - a combination of architectural and engineering innovation - aims to fully stretch the possibilities that hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT) offers the construction industry.

Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile at the London Design Festival 2016
  • Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile designed by Alison Brooks Architects Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile sponsored by American Hardwood Export Council
  • Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile at Chelsea College of Art

The Smile is constructed from 12 industrial-sized tulipwood CLT panels, 14m long and 4.5m wide, and was constructed by CLT pioneers Züblin Timber in Germany. Aldworth James & Bond managed onsite as the foundations (including 20 tonnes of steel counterweights) were laid in the college square, and each panel lifted in place and fixed together. AJ&B then lacquered the timber pavilion and oversaw the finishing touches, including the lighting that beams out from each end of the Smile at night.

Aldworth James & Bond | Inside 'The Smile' - London Design Festival 2016

As well as coordinating the project installation Aldworth James & Bond also built the information stands for the London Design Festival visitors to use. It was a real joy to be part of such a fantastic team and work on such an ambitious and gravity-defying project. Further information on the Smile can be found here.

Photography: Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond, 2016

Aldworth James & Bond | Aerial view of the Smile at LDF16
  • Aldworth James & Bond | London Design Festival's The Smile
  • Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile
Aldworth James & Bond | The Smile - London Design Festival 2016 (10)