Architects Create Giant Gingerbread City in London

A gingerbread house in the making. (Photo by Don LaVange CC BY-SA 2.0)

When architects trade out concrete and steel for gingerbread and licorice, they make our half-hearted attempts at holiday decorating pale in comparison.

This year marks the third year that London’s Museum of Architecture has sponsored Gingerbread City, a tasty way to envision the city of the future.

More than 60 buildings designed and created by architects, designers and engineers made entirely of gingerbread and candy grace the space at the V&A Museum in London. This city, like many non-edible ones, is master-planned: the firm Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design planned Gingerbread City, and architecture and design firms filled it in.

Reuters says the city features a high-line-esque Sugar Loop, complete with (working) licorice cable car and sugar-dusted pedestrian and bike lanes. There’s also a pub, movie theater and sports stadium, the Evening Standard said, and a rooftop vegetable garden with candy vegetables. There’s even a homeless shelter for any candy people without a roof over their heads, designed by architects Holland Harvey. The city takes up a massive amount of space, filling a whole room.

It’s a lighthearted way to end the year, but it’s also serious business for these firms. Robert Nolan, an architect at APT, told Reuters that his firm makes a lot of models at gingerbread scale, so it wasn’t all that hard to switch media — except for accidental munching of gingerbread pieces.

“We had to be very careful when making it that suddenly you might be halfway through making something and then be like ‘oh, wait, where did that piece go? Oh, we’ve actually gone and eaten it’,” Nolan said.

Another design was built by a robotic arm, showcasing Foster & Partner’s high-tech construction techniques.

Tibbalds said in a statement that the exhibition is “intended to get people who don’t normally spend much time looking at their environment to think more about the kind of places they live, work and play in, how these are created and how they impact on us all.”

“For Tibbalds, this isn’t about some dystopian vision about the future but about how real places can work for all of us and how we can live in well designed, attractive and lively places — and ideally that are a bit more long-lasting than these gingerbread ones,” Tibbalds director Hilary Satchwell told the Mirror.

Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.

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