American tulipwood at The London Design Festival

Sep 2, 2013
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Designer

Above: (1) Render courtesy Citscape; (2), (3) and (4) photos courtesy Jonas Lencer, Alex de Rijke and Thomas Etchells

dRMM Architects’ Endless Stair is the latest in a line of collaborations between the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and designers and architects from around the world.

At the 2011 London Design Festival, AHEC unveiled the American red oak Timber Wave, a collaboration with Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A), while last year, students from the Royal College of Arts (RCA) created a range of American hardwood chairs, each with its own environmental impact statement. This year, Alex de Rijke, founder of dRMM and Dean of Architecture at the RCA, has joined forces with AHEC and engineers ARUP to create perhaps the most stirring installation to date.

The Endless Stair is a structure that will grace the lawn of the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank for the duration of the festival, from 14-22 September. Created from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels of American tulipwood, the Escher inspired structure demonstrates the superior strength of this hardwood species, which makes it suitable for construction.

Above: the making of the Endless Stair. Video courtesy AHEC

Rod Wiles, Director for AHEC Oceania, says of the project: “This is a significant collaboration for a number of reasons. CLT is going to be one of the dominant construction materials of the future. The new library at Docklands in Melbourne is an example of the advantages of working with CLT and [the material] is being embraced globally as a more efficient and environmentally appropriate construction solution.

“The fact that the Endless Stair is created from American tulipwood is also interesting. This is an incredibly versatile hardwood, which produces long lengths of clear sawn timber with an excellent strength and stiffness for its weight, which lends itself well to structural applications where self-weight of the structure may be critical. European furniture manufacturers have been supporters of American tulipwood for generations and this is a trend that we are seeing develop in Australia. It is great to see the construction industry also starting to take note of this species.”

For further information about The Endless Stair, CLT and American tulipwood visit americanhardwood.org

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