Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Edible Architecture

Top – via Vestal Design

Bottom – ‘Sweet Tall Tower

I arrived at work this morning, opened up my inbox, and found an invitation to consume a most delectable treat – a cake which resembled a skyscraper.  The email invited us to all eat the “sweet tall tower,” a description I hope to one day overhear someone exclaim in regards to one of my future designs…”Dude, check out that sweet tall tower!”

This ‘sweet tall tower’ had all the makings of a genuine skyscraper in today’s day and age: cylindrical core, iconic wrapper, with a zone of homogenous substance sandwiched in between (in this case cake, in a typical skyscraper’s case it would be program).

The cake is made from a German company (as if you had to ask!) and the orginal name for it is Baumkuhen, literally “tree cake”.  With a quick flick of my nifty delete button I can quickly turn this into Baukuhen, or “building cake,” as it should more accurately be called.  German is a wonderful language like that.

A quick Google search revealed some more interesting ‘edible architecture’.  The first comes from Vestal Design who created an architecture cake.  (The image above is from their website).  They say the “project examines the architectural symbolism and spatiality of cake.”  They based their design on a great edible architecture reference.  They say that “the cake designs built upon a manifesto which was published in the Yale food magazine Taste.”  I have added some quotes from the original manifesto at the bottom of this post.

And in this YouTube video you can see what happens when Boy Scouts start playing dodge ball with a Buckminster Fuller inspired tetrahedron made of spaghetti and marshmallows.  Those Boy Scouts probably know more about structure and joinery than most architecture students!

I am also reminded of can food stacking competitions, which is actually a great way to boil architecture down to its most essential elements: form, structure, material, color, pattern, etc.


Edifice, artifice. The time has come for cakes to rise to ever greater heights. I have seen the future of Confection, and it is Crenellated.

For centuries we have walked a fine line in both our culinary creations and our aedicular aspirations. Our collective tendency to live in our food, whether literally or figuratively, begs the eternal question: Are we eating it or is it eating us? Reformulated: why do our cakes demand to be Inhabited? Why do they so often, so irrationally, look like buildings?

To find the answer, let us scoop deep through the layers of our buried lives, our homes, and our daily bread, and our religion. Exodus tells of the departure of the Jews from Egypt, an icon of architectural achievement: for what? For the desert, the flatlands, a void unfilled by stone and brick! This unleavened wasteland was made habitable only by the culinary gift from the heavens: the manna, the holy bread of life, which replaced the first edifices of the Jews and was the badge of their freedom from the oppression of an inedible architecture.

Come now, Citizens Cake – to lead a second exodus, from the oppression of an consumptive and spaceless architecture of the present to the glories of a once and future cake!

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