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The Smile was to be an urban installation aimed at transforming the way architects and engineers approach timber construction. 

David Venables, AHEC’s European director and initiator of the project, said ‘This project is meant to represent the challenges of a building… American tulipwood is an abundant, lightweight but strong hardwood; and The Smile is the culmination of an effort by AHEC to show that it can have a structural use in buildings’.

While CLT is becoming a widely accepted means of building around the world, it has been done exclusively in softwood so far. In contrast to previous AHEC experiments with hardwood CLT, this installation would be made using a real manufacturing process rather than the hand-crafted approach. AHEC’s vision was to showcase a product that industry can embrace and present as a solution for architects and engineers: whether in public buildings or in lower cost affordable housing.