Take structure, add wobble factor, then test it by taste

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2008, 12:00am

What if the Beijing National Stadium tasted like bird's nest soup and London's Swiss Re Tower like gherkin?

We can't really dine out on these buildings, but we can find out how other structures might taste at a new competition in London.

Architects are being invited to design scale models of buildings that will be made out of that most stable of building materials - jelly.

London jellymaker, Bompas & Parr, which is organising the Architectural Jelly Design Competition, will use the designers' moulds to make the jellies. These will be exhibited and eaten at next month's London Festival of Architecture. The jellymakers want to explore the relationship between food and architecture.

That might sound like they are on a fantastic LSD trip or talking pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo, but several big name architects have already agreed to take part, including Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners, Grimshaw and Make. Grimshaw will offer a mould based on an early design for Cornwall's Eden Project.

The organisers promise 1,000 jellies at its public Architectural Jelly Banquet in the University College London Quad on July 4. With architects giving many new buildings organic forms, Harry Parr, partner at Bompas & Parr, believes a jelly banquet is the next obvious step.

'We want to see how the taste of food is affected by the environment it is served in,' said Mr Parr. '[We want] to see how a building which looks nice will taste in your mouth.

'Historically, taste and smell have been internal senses - you can't share them with others unlike sight and hearing. But this will help you feel form on your tongue.'

An ugly building might taste horrible and a handsome structure, delightful, even if it was made out of the same jelly, he said. 'Or, if you see a building shaped like a strawberry and think that will taste quite nice, but it tastes not of strawberry, but of something like orange or wine, then this would be a shock.'

You bet, I don't like that building already.

However, I might be won over by its 'wobble factor', a key determinant of who wins apparently.

This could be tricky for the architects because anything too tall and thin will collapse - there is a fine line between outstanding 'wobble factor' and disaster, warns the jellymaker.

No doubt, the architects may work their way through a considerable amount of jelly in the next few weeks, in their quest to design the ultimate, wobbly tower. Poor them.