Design Alabama
Design Alabama


Creating a New smiLe

Few objects are more functional than a table, yet bDot Architecture in Birmingham has designed one that takes the functionality of a table to even greater heights.

The smiLe table is a custom-design play table for children with special needs, and is tailored to the child’s specific reach and range of motion. The moveable arm is designed to be able to “hug up” to the user in order to help support and stabilize the child during physical therapy.

The prototype was designed for a patient at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. The child has since been discharged, but the table has remained and is being used by physical therapists at the hospital, says bDot founder Brian Roberson.

Fabricated completely in-house, the table consists of CNC-milled plywood profiles for play surfaces, a 3D-printed edge band, 3D-printed adjustable legs and 3D-printed feet. Flexible bumper cushions keep oxygen tubes and other equipment from becoming pinched.

The table’s legs are adjustable to cope with uneven surfaces, accommodate the use of support devices and grow with the child. The table can be used either on the floor or on a hospital bed.

“We really didn’t have preconceived ideas about the table before we visited the child and the staff at the hospital,” Roberson recalls.

“The design is based around the needs of the child and how the physical therapists wanted to use it to accelerate (the patient’s) recovery. All of the parts and pieces are custom and are printed, cut and fabricated at our studio. It is available for purchase and can be modified as needed.

The smiLe table received the 2017 Honorable Mention AIA Birmingham Design Award.


Image 1- The cheery play table features bright, primary colors that are sure to appeal to young patients. According to the creators at bDot, “Being able to create a custom solution for a special needs child really is enough to put a smile on your face.”

Image 2- This child (not an actual patient) enjoys playing on the smiLe table, which is designed to add children with special needs during physical therapy.

Image 3-Uneven surfaces are not a problem with these adjustable legs that allow the play table to be used on the floor or on a hospital bed. The height of the legs can be adjusted as the child grows and they are designed to accommodate the use of support devices.

Image 4- The plan diagram of the play table, which can be modified for various needs and is available for purchase through bDot Architecture.


*Article By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of bDot Architecture



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