The Gingerbread City, a several years-running holiday exhibition hosted by London’s Museum of Architecture, opened its inaugural show across the pond this season, at the Seaport Museum in Lower Manhattan. The show is a full-fledged metropolis—comprising phantasmagoric gingerbread dwellings, cultural institutions, parks, rail lines, and other typologies—designed and assembled by over 50 architecture and design firms based in the Big Apple. The exhibition, in its whimsical ingenuity, is sure to please even the grinchy-est of visitors.
“What better place than the Seaport to be thinking about the future of New York and its relationship with water with our ‘Water in Cities’ theme,” said Museum of Architecture founder Melissa Woolford in a statement.
CannonDesign's Fridge &Freezer houses a colony of penguins (1); The Lemonade Light House, designed by Rockwell Group, serves as ornate beacon (2). Photos © Leandro Justen
The Gingerbread City is divided into five distinct districts, or islands, and the participants of each category were provided specific geological prompts for their baked goods–based interventions. The Frozen Landscape envisions a future where 10 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in glaciers, ice sheets, and ice caps; structures within this environment are designed to keep the elements at bay and keep its miniature inhabitants warm. One such project in that category is CannonDesign’s Fridge & Freezer: A Penguin Story, something of a geodesic igloo inhabited by a school of scarf-donning penguins.
View of The Gingerbread City at the Seaport Museum. Photo © Leandro Justen
The Underwater and Floating City, not unlike the Kevin Costner–starring 1995 post-apocalyptic action film Waterworld, sees development going aquatic, requiring careful engineering to keep structures watertight. There, Rockwell Group’s Lemonade Lighthouse stands as a tiered, ornamented edifice awash in a glowing landscape of lemon drops. In an all-too familiar scenario, the exhibition’s Urban Floodplain district is threatened by rising seas. Projects here, like Morris Adjmi Architects’ The Éclair Eco Resort, incorporate soft landscaping and other resiliency measures such as licorice rope flood barriers and Life Saver buoys.
The Venetian Mac-a-Ruins incorporates design features from that maritime city. Photo © Leandro Justen
In the Canal City, rising sea levels are harnessed as a means of transportation. For accessible waterfronts, structures such as Marvel’s Marsh-Meadow Bridge facilitate movement across the district, and Cooper Robertson’s The Venetian Mac-a-Ruins harkens to that maritime Adriatic metropolis. And the Drought Landscape section calls for water reuse and capture in a world with minimal potable water.
Gingerbread City Eco-Housing Authority by NYCHA. Photo © Leandro Justen
The Gingerbread City runs through January 7th. Further information regarding the exhibition, including Seaport Museum hours, can be found here.