Timber Wave

Project: A contextual response to form and function

October 25 2014

Designed by AL_A with engineers Arup, Timber Wave celebrates three years of collaboration between the London Design Festival and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The most ambitious commission to date, this remarkable 12m-high installation reflects the interest in design and making that is at the heart of the museum’s collections and London’s creative industries.

The V&A Cromwell Road entrance is vast, multilayered and very ornamental. The form responds to this with a single dynamic gesture in timber; the use of wood as a structural material is well documented at the V&A. Lamination techniques more usually used in furniture making have been applied at a vast scale to create a structure that echoes the grand proportions of the museum’s magnificent arched entrance.

Repetition of motif is very much part of the didactic tradition of the V&A and this structure is born from that. Three-dimensional and asymmetric in form, it creates its own balance and is visible from long views as you approach the museum from along Cromwell Road.

Taller than a three-storey building, Timber Wave is made from specially curved pieces of American red oak donated by American Hardwood Export Council members, and fabricated by Cowley Timberwork in Lincolnshire. Its complex and challenging form is made possible through cutting-edge digital tools, 3D modelling and precision engineering. Specially designed lighting by SEAM Design and iGuzzini emphasise the intricate patterns and ensure that it is as exciting to view at night as during the day.


Judges’ Special Award, The Wood Awards (2012)

Spatial Design/Installations, D&AD Awards (2012)