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"The Smile" at London Design Festival 2016 (Copyright: Dav Steward)
"The Smile" at London Design Festival 2016 (Copyright: Dav Steward)

Press release -

ZÜBLIN Timber supplies LENO® CLT elements to present ‘The Smile’ at London Design Festival 2016

  • The Smile – First project worldwide to use large hardwood Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels made from tulipwood
  • ZÜBLIN Timber produced and installed the entire timber structure consisting of 12 massive LENO® Cross-Laminated Timber elements

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has collaborated with Alison Brooks Architects, Arup, London Design Festival and ZÜBLIN Timber to present a cross-laminated tulipwood structure, ‘The Smile’, at the Chelsea College of Art Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground from 17 September until 12 October 2016.

‘The Smile’ is one of the Festival’s landmark projects, which can be inhabited and explored by the public. The spectacular, curved, tubular timber structure is a 3.5 m high, 4.5 m wide and 34m long beam curving up at both ends. Showcasing the structural and spatial potential of cross-laminated American tulipwood, Alison Brooks' concept is the first ever ‘mega-tube’ made with construction-sized panels of hardwood CLT.

ZÜBLIN’s timber construction entity has an important part in the project: The contract for the delivery and installation of all LENO® Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) elements for the entire timber structure was awarded to ZÜBLIN Timber of Aichach, Germany.

CLT is an engineered timber that can be used to make walls and floors of entire buildings. It has a layered construction with the wood fibres turned at right angles in each successive layer, creating a panel with equal strength in both directions, just like plywood. Weight for weight, CLT is stronger than concrete and it can also be machined with very low tolerances. This makes it ideal for prefabrication and rapid assembly, reducing construction times by up to 30 %.

CLT is usually made of a softwood spruce. Together with AHEC and ARUP, ZÜBLIN Timber has started a process of experimenting with CLT made from fast-grown North American tulipwood. Testing has shown that the tulipwood is considerably stronger than spruce; it also has a superior appearance.

‘The Smile’ is the first project in the world to use large hardwood CLT panels. In fact the entire structure is made from just 12 huge tulipwood panels, each up to 14m long and 4.5m wide. Fabricating these panels in a real CLT production plant at ZÜBLIN Timber has been an important step forward, showcasing how the material can be used for commercial projects.


Stuttgart-based Ed. Züblin AG has about 14,000 employees and, with an annual output of over € 3 billion, is one of Germany’s leading construction companies. Since it was founded in 1898, ZÜBLIN has been successfully realising challenging construction projects in Germany and abroad and is the number one in the German building construction and civil engineering segment. The company’s range of services comprises all construction-related tasks – from civil engineering, bridge building and tunnelling to complex turnkey construction to structural timber engineering and public-private partnerships. ZÜBLIN attaches great importance to partnership-based cooperation, and our ZÜBLIN teamconcept has proved its value as a successful partnering model for more than 15 years now. Current construction projects of the company, a subsidiary of globally operating STRABAG SE, include the new Axel Springer building in Berlin, Messehalle 12 in Frankfurt and the Albabstieg Tunnel along the new Wendlingen–Ulm railway line. More information is available at

Press contacts

Birgit Kümmel

Birgit Kümmel

Press contact Head of Corporate Communications Germany/Benelux/Northern Europe +49 221 824-2472
Sabine Appel

Sabine Appel

Press contact PR-Manager +49 221 824 2159

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