We have a bit of a sweet tooth for gingerbread architecture, since it combines joyful holiday tradition with a reverence for superior building design. These intricate works of art are created by architects, chefs and baking enthusiasts seeking to share their common love of cookies and confection. These "gingerbread architects" do not limit their work to a particular building style - they create modern residences, scaled monuments, fantastical castles, and even deep ocean habitats. For 2012 we've rounded up a new crop of unbelievable gingerbread buildings that are honestly just too good to eat!
1. Selfridges Store Window inspired by the film by Bruce Weber
This architectural cookie installation was inspired by the film produced by Bruce Weber for Selfridges department store in London. Titled “A New Fashioned Christmas“, the film has whimsical scenes of . All of the storefront windows recreate whimsical scences from the film entitled “A New Fashioned Christmas.” In addition to windows donning ballerinas, fantastical sleepovers, and a pony-drawn carriage, this gingerbread recreation of the Selfridges building was installed by store workers overnight, and catches the eye of all who pass by! Shoppers with deep pockets can also take home a smaller gingerbread model of the store (shown in lead photo) that can be previewed in the Selfridges food hall.
images via Selfridges
2. Santa’s German Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Princess
An annual tradition at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Executive Chef Ralf Bauer has created an edible winter wonderland, which this year is themed “Hawaii and the World, a Global Holiday Celebration.” The Chef and his team spent over 800 hours designing, constructing and setting up the village which includes landmark buildings from around the world, as well as local Hawaiian architectural icons. The village replicates in yummy baked goods the Eiffel Tower, London’s Tower Bridge, a Japanese Pagoda, plus an entire German village with medieval churches, bell towers, train stations, a carousel, a skating rink, and a castle to replicate the homeland of Chef Bauer. The construction required 250 gallons of icing, 150 pounds of dark chocolate, 50 pounds of white chocolate, and 90 sheets of gingerbread. The village will be on display through January 2nd.
3. Hurricane Sandy Candycrane
In reaction to being shuttered for more than a week surrounding the events of Hurricane Sandy, executive Chef Emile Castillo at Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien Hotel built a 5-foot-tall replica of the highly publicized fallen crane that caused the evacuation of their building. The crane dangled off of One57, a neighboring high-priced residential project still in development. Playfully called the “Candycrane” this structure is part of a group of architectural gingerbread works showing at the Le Parker Meridien through January 3rd in order to raise charity funds to benefit CityHarvest.
Photo Credit: DNAinfo/Mathew Katz
4. Architecture Demarest Modern Gingerbread Residence
In an annual architectural standoff of the masters in baking, Dallas’s TKO showroom selected this modern residential gingerbread house as their first place winner. Built by Architecture Demarest, the home’s cantilevered design and delectable landscaped yard with swimming pool is a unique take on this cookie home building tradition. TKO says that their competition focused on “architecturally sound and design driven houses,” and that all the fun is in the spirit of charity. This year’s competition will benefit the CityWalk Playground.
5. San Francisco Painted Ladies Tribute
Now in its 4th year tradition, the Fairmont has been creating larger than life gingerbread buildings. In a joint effort between the Fairmont Hotel‘s kitchen and engineering groups, a 22ft high tribute to San Francisco’s very own Painted Ladies has just been unveiled. Known for the brightly painted facades, these homes in San Francisco are a major attraction for camera-wielding tourists.
Gingertown is the best example of creative collaboration between large numbers of gingerbread architects. Founded in 2006 by David M. Schwarz Architects, invites leading architects, designers, and architectural firms in the D.C. area to design an build an entire city of candy, cookie, and confection. Participants chose a plot from a master plan designed by David M. Scwarz Architects, and are then free to develop their hand-crafted gingerbread building any way they like. This year’s town displayed over 50 buildings including a dental office, dog park, clock tower, coffee shop, and bookstore set facing candy sprinkled street with candy cane street lights. In addition to raising sponsor funds to give to charity, the Gingertown buildings are donated and displayed at local hospitals, health care facilities and community support organizations to help spread the message of joy and hope during the holidays.
7. Aquarium Inspired Gingerbread Architecture by Cambridge Seven Architects
Known internationally for their working creating amazing and innovative aquariums, C7A (Cambridge Seven Associates) created an aquatic world in gingerbread for a competition held last week in Boston. The competition was held by the Community Design Resource Center, and all of the creations from local architectural firms are being auctioned off for charity. The C7a team members also created a book to go along with the gingerbread aquarium that tells fictional stories about the animals who live in this tasty confection world. Beyond the aquarium “reef” building, where fondant sharks swim along side only finned swimmers, is a landscaped patio for “ice-ing” swimming for penguins!
Photo credit: Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc
8. Handlin Garrahan and Associates Gingerbread Tree House
The Cambridge architecture firm Handlin Garrahan and Associates took a different twist on ginger building for the Community Design Resource Center competition by submitting a treehouse retreat. Dwarfed by the surrounding gingerbread trees, this small home supported on “tree” branches looks like the perfect eco-architecture cabin.
9. Killough’s Music and Loan
Chicagoland gingerbread enthusiasts and together with students from the French Pastry School brought edible interpretations of their favorite hometown storefronts to The Drake Hotel to take part in Pastry Chicago‘s Seventh Annual Gingerbread House Competition. This year, participants were asked to recreate their favorite storefront in 100% edible scale models. Kelsey Sewell, inspired by architecture from her childhood, won first place with her replica of Killough’s Music and Loan in Marion, North Carolina. Sewell cut out and hand-painted mini gingerbread guitars and displayed them behind window panes made of gelatin sheets.
10. Benson Hotel Falkenstein Castle & Village
Unveiled on November 29th, the gingerbread architectural display at the Benson Hotel in Portland is now in its 41st year of tradition. Local area Chef David Diffendorfer, creator of the intricate gingerbread art, says that he is “sure King Ludwig II would be delighted to see his beloved Falkenstein Castle come to life.” Falkenstein was to be a magnificent, fairytale castle in the Bavarian Alps, but with the untimely death of King Ludwig II in 1886, the castle’s plans were abandoned. What a better way to pay homage to visionary architecture than to replicate it in confection?
photo credit: Coast Hotels & Resorts
Although this project is still in progress, we wanted to give a special mention to Renne Baumann’s gingerbread brownstone.
In tribute to the residential architecture of Brooklyn, baker Renee Baumann’s created a intricate gingerbread brownstone. Baumann is looking for partners to help in the creation for a full city gingerbread block for charity! Get more details on joining her cookie conquest here.