Celebrate Waffle day,with another look at yummy waffle slabs

Goldstein House
© Goldstein House/ John Lautner

In Sweden, they celebrate Våffeldagen or Waffle Day on March 25; In America, we waffle a bit and celebrate Waffle Day on August 24, the day the patent on the waffle iron was issued. That's two opportunities to celebrate the tasty waffle slab, a form of construction that used to be popular but has fallen out of flavor or favor or whatever.

Which is a shame; we are not usually fond of concrete because of its carbon footprint, but waffle slabs let designers get much larger spans with less material. They also look so nice as architectural elements that they are left exposed instead of getting covered up with drywall- the structure is the finish. And being concrete, they are durable. We have covered tasty waffles that I have known here, but there are some others worth looking at. I have been criticized for not mentioning some other very famous waffles, starting with John Lautner's Goldstein house in Los Angeles, a rare residential use of waffles. It has been donated to the The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by its owner so it is likely that it will remain intact and accessible.

robarts library© Robarts Library

A number of readers berated me for not including Toronto's Robarts Library in the list; I am a fan of this building and have written about it before, but had forgotten about its waffle slabs.

Yale gallery© Louis Kahn, restored by Polshek Partnership

The Robarts waffles are triangular and appear to be a homage to Louis Kahn, and his Yale Art Gallery, which was recently restored and upgraded by the Polshek Partnership.

Kitchener Library© LGA architects

Another demonstration of how well waffle slabs hold up over the years, both aesthetically and functionally, is this renovation of the Kitchener Public Library by LGA architects and Phil Carter; those 1961 vintage waffles still look good.

waffles at barbicanLloyd Alter/ Barbican waffles/CC BY 2.0

Waffles can be very dramatic with low ceilings, like these at the Barbican in London. The wonderful housing project, one of the world's best, is full of waffles that also act as light fixtures.

lights in platformLloyd Alter/ Lights in Washington Metro platform/CC BY 2.0

Waffles are dramatic high up as well, as shown in the Washington Metro. The trains may not be holding up so well, but the roof certainly is. I did not originally think of this as a waffle slab; I thought of it as a coffered ceiling. But others do not waffle about it, so here it is.

fiat factoryLloyd Alter/ Fiat factory, Turin/CC BY 1.0

Similarly, I did not include Nervi's Fiat factory in Turin but all the waffle sites do, so I include it here.

new york waflesLloyd Alter/ Marcel Breur MET/CC BY 2.0

On this waffle day, spend some time looking up at ceilings. You will see few as beautiful as those waffle slabs; few that have lasted so long. They are at once decorative, structural (though this one by Marcel Breuer at the MET Modern is totally decorative, hanging below the ceiling) and durable, all attributes of green building. Happy Våffeldagen!

For more waffles, see the waffle slab archive on Tumblr

Tags: Concrete | Green Building

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