Timber Wave : London Design Festival 2011
Designed by Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) in collaboration with Arup, and supported by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the oak used in the temporary self-supporting 12m diameter arch is more traditionally used in furniture making.
Award-winning architects AL_A and engineering firm Arup transformed the V&A Museum’s Grand Entrance on Cromwell Road with the installation of a giant timber wave cascading down the steps. Built from oil-treated American red oak, Timber Wave was a three-dimensional latticework spiral, 12 metres in diameter, that employs construction techniques and materials normally used in furniture making to create a majestic three – storey – high structure.
‘The brief was to respond in some way to the entrance of the V&A. For us it was about making very explicit the London Design Festival residency there,’ says architect Amanda Levete of AL_A. ‘We wanted to take the V&A out onto the street.’
Timber Wave does exactly that, creating an outdoor installation that is not only graceful, but technically ingenious. Working with engineers and timber specialists from Arup, AL_A’s Timber Wave is a feat of precision construction.
Amanda Levete Architects
‘The timber entrance is three-dimensional and asymmetric in form, and each timber piece is precisely calibrated for optimal structural performance and sculptural elegance.’ It is the high strength-to weight ratio of American red oak, an abundant US hardwood resource, that allows AL_A and Arup to create this delicate design in such a large scale. The wood has been treated with a biocide oil treatment that gives red oak the necessary protection to be used outside.
The recurring structures within Timber Wave reflect the repeated motif style that is very much part of the didactic tradition of the V&A’s own historic facade. The Grand Entrance in particular is vast, multilayered and very ornamental, and the design responds to this with a single dynamic form.
Arup Director Ed Clark
“Participating in these experimental installations at the London Design Festival is hugely valuable to us. They provide a great chance to evolve new modelling, analysis, design and construction techniques. The two projects this year are very different to each other but share a sculptural elegance which will make an instant impression on festival visitors and passers-by.
“Design is central to the work that we do as engineers and these installations provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the interplay of artistic creativity and technical expertise that is inherent in all design.”
Name: Timber Wave
Location: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, England, United Kingdom
Materials: Red oak lumber
Materials Combination: Wood, Eco/Recycled/Green
Dimensions: dia 12 metres
Colour: Natural Color
Client / Owner / Developer: London Design Festival
Artist: AL_A – Amanda Levete Architects
Supported by: The American Hardwood Export Council
Structural engineering: Arup
Manufactured and built: Cowley Timberwork
Lighting scheme: SEAM Design
Light fittings: iGuzzini
Red oak lumber kindly donated: AHEC
Members: Bingaman and Son Lumber, Fitzpatrick & Weller Inc, Frank Miller Lumber Company, Pike Lumber Company, Coulee Region Hardwoods, Northland Forest Products, Matson Lumber Company, Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales, Working with nature’s rhythm., American hardwood.
Text Description: © Courtesy of londondesignfestival
Images: © Stephen Citrone, londondesignfestival