Brawn & Bread

Studio MICAT, New Hampshire, 2018


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Studio MICAT     Download Original

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Brawn & Bread is an outdoor gym that makes bread, using human power to process grain, knead dough, and fuel a wood-fired oven.

The project was designed by Studio MICAT and was built by campers aged 11-17 at Beam Camp, NH.

We take our daily bread for granted, having become increasingly distanced from the physical effort required to get food on the table. Eating is easy and our sedentary society is therefore encouraged to ‘compensate’ by expending energy on highly specialised exercise equipment in expensive gyms.

The project, titled Brawn & Bread, gently highlights the irony of this energy disconnect. It relinks effort to reward, requiring a whole body workout and in so doing provides the sustenance to refuel afterwards.

The structure was built from brickwork, cast concrete, charred timber boards and steel. The pared-back palette of materials reflects the simplicity of ingredients used in bread – flour, water and salt. The apparatus was designed to make a performance of the processes that go into producing bread. A winch is used to haul a wheeled carriage loaded with grain sacks to the top of a steel frame. The grain is loaded by hand into a hopper, which feeds pedal powered grain mills. The resulting flour is then channelled, by way of custom 3D printed parts, to glass jars where it is collected and added to a levain. The sourdough is prepared, kneaded, proved, shaped and finally baked in an oven fuelled with hand-split wood.

A retractable canopy shelters the bakers from the vagaries of the weather. Brawn & Bread will remain a permanent installation at Beam Camp and will provide daily bread for up to 150 campers and staff members. The bread gym is a small but salutary reminder of the effort required to produce this daily essential, and will hopefully inspire a more respectful attitude towards the humble loaf.

The project is best understood through this short film:


  • Begun: Aug 2018
  • Completed: Aug 2018
  • Floor area: 4m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £8,418
  • Funding: Beam Center
  • Procurement: Self built
  • CO2 Emissions: 70kg/m2/year
  • Address: Beam Camp, 55 Boy Scout Road, Strafford, New Hampshire, 03884, United States

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