October 2016

Will timber define our age? That is the question posed by ‘The Smile’, one of the four Landmark Projects currently on display at the London Design Festival 2016. We kick things off in this issue by looking at this unique installation, which has been designed by Alison Brooks Architects (ABA). With expertise from top engineering firm Arup, the project is the culmination of an effort by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to show that hardwoods can have a structural use in buildings. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ‘The Smile’ has revealed that it is better than carbon neutral at point of delivery to the site at the Chelsea College of Arts. Significantly, it takes less than five minutes for natural forest growth to replace all of the tulipwood used to manufacture ‘The Smile’.

The second edition of Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK16) aims to ‘Celebrate Wood’ and will run as part of Dubai Design Week (DDW), which takes place all across Dubai from October 24 – 29, 2016. Khalid Shafar, Co-founder of DRAK outlines how the initiative strives to become a progressive design movement that encourages research, innovation, and material exploration. Wood has always been perceived typically as a building material for architecture, construction and for making furniture, according to Shafar. DRAK16 then aims to challenge the designers involved to explore wood through the medium of film, graphic design, textile design, and interactive design and we cannot wait to visit Ras Al Khor later this month for what promises to be a very interesting take on the material.

We also take a closer look at the Brock Commons student residence, which is on track to be the tallest mass wood hybrid building in the world. The mass wood structure and façade has been recently completed for the world’s tallest wood building at 18 storeys (53 meters, about 174 feet), four months ahead of schedule, showcasing the advantages of building with wood. When completed in the summer of 2017, the 53m tall high-rise building will provide housing for over 400 students and be the tallest mass wood hybrid building in the world. More importantly, the building will demonstrate that mass wood structures offer an economically viable alternative to concrete and steel while providing a way to lessen the carbon footprint of the built environment.

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