Giant Gingerbread House

Alma-nac Collaborative Architecture
London, 2011

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Data

  • Begun: Jun 2011
  • Completed: Jul 2011
  • Floor area: 50m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £18,000
  • Tender date: May 2011
  • Procurement: Bespoke
  • Address: Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1BS, United Kingdom

Alma-nac were commissioned by The Brunswick centre on behalf of Great Ormond Street hospital to create an installation in the Brunswick Gallery to raise funds for the Hospital

Alma-nac created the Giant Edible Gingerbread House.

The house, a 3m tall archetypal house form, was designed with a fully opening front, set under a sky of balloons and meringue clouds. Created with a series of ‘active’ events designed to facilitate the story telling process, the house came complete with popcorn popping chimney, cupcake landscape, marshmallow marsh and jelly sweet chandelier.

The exterior of the house was shingled in over 2500 tiles made from gingerbread, vanilla shortbread and chocolate shortbread. Inside, the walls were lined with Belgian waffles, pink wafers and bourbon biscuits.

The project was carried out in a very similar way to many building projects. There was great deal of scientific testing into the strength and durability of different consistencies of gingerbread, as well as extensive testing of pre-fabricated elements. The tolerances involved were also relativity stringent. So much so, the architect had to request the cook to re-warm and hand cut 5mm from 1200 tiles that had over expanded during cooking. The cook graciously complied.

The scheme was created with more than 80 kg of Gingerbread, 65kg of Chocolate Ganache, 25 litres of Royal Icing, 2.5 cubic metres of Marshmallows, 400 meringues and more jelly sweets than anyone could keep record of. Gingerbread, shortcake and chocolate shortcake shingles were carefully studied to establish optimum cutting times allowing for perfect uniformity over the entire house form. Wall sections were mocked up weeks in advance to assess the structural properties of designs, and ultimately many of our assumptions on the properties of refined sugar were entirely overhauled.

The house was eaten over a period of three days by 1000 children and eager parents. The remains were used as compost to grow apple trees.