Tiny houses are a big thing, and Vancouver house prices are really high, so it should really be no surprise that a tiny Vancouver gingerbread house should be for sale on Craigslist for C$ 4,500,000 (US$ 3,273,744, still a lot of money). The developer claims that "It looks like a typical, old character home on a small lot, which is basically what developers are collecting right now for redevelopment for condo sites, and they're paying like $4.5 million per property." It certainly looks like a knock-down to me, being partial to modern designs. No word on whether it sold yet (the listing is no longer on Craigslist) but the word is he was offered $2 million in counterfeit Canadian Tire money.
Really, the pickings are thin in the Gingerbread world this year. The experts at McSweeney were predicting a big year in their last Gingerbread Housing Report:
Only time will tell, but it appears as though the gingerbread housing market is finally poised to explode the way administration officials have desperately hoped it would. And, so it looks as though we’re in for many, many more months of gingerbread men shoveling icing off of driveways and fixing gumdrop lights along the windows of their homes.
But really, the only new development I have seen that is TreeHugger appropriate is this one from Design within Reach. There is a lot to like about it; the tiny house size, the mid-century modern character, and the fact that it is a flatpack kit, reducing costs to a lot less than C$4.5 million. It has a generous front porch and nice landscaping.
But previous years were a lot more exciting. Last year saw the introduction of the new Passivlebkuchenhaus standard which brought an entirely new level of energy efficiency, comfort and boxy ugliness to gingerbread housing; we also round up previous years below.
2014: A look at the new Passive Gingerbread House standard
It's been another quiet year on the modern gingerbread scene, that wonderful intersection of healthy edible building materials and the tiny house movement. However there is one important trend of note: the development of the Passivlebkuchenhaus standard, or as they call it in North America, the Passive Gingerbread House. The first demonstration of the new standard is actually in Finland, where Kasper Stromman has built what he calls a pasiivienergiapiparkakkutalo. It has all of the well-known passive house features: More in TreeHugger
2013: Let's get edible
The modern gingerbread scene has seemed quiet this year, other than the remarkable work of food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves reconstructing the great museums of the world.
However, the experts at McSweeney's have been analysing the situation and Keith Wisniewski reports that in fact, things are looking up for this greenest of building materials that is so popular in the tiny house movement. He writes:
What once seemed like the worst gingerbread housing crisis this nation has ever seen, has finally taken a dramatic turn toward a full recovery. According to this month’s housing report, sales of gingerbread homes for the month of December have shot up an incredible 2000% over the previous month. This breaks the drought of near zero growth that has plagued administration officials for almost eleven months.
“Not going to lie, it didn’t look too good over the summer,” said Department of Gingerbread Housing Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bates. “But now we’re finally starting to see some traction in the market. This is just the beginning. The administration expects even better news throughout January and February.”
I was seriously criticized by recognized building experts when last year I proposed that our building materials should be so non-toxic that we should be able to eat them. And while this year saw green building experts Carl Seville, Alex Wilson and Michael Anschel dine on mushroom insulation sandwiches, it did not look appetizing. That's why I have been saying since 2007 that the future is gingerbread.
2012: Gingerbread: The Greenest Material
Everything in a healthy home should be non-toxic, from the building materials to the finishes. That's why I am such a fan of the modern gingerbread movement- totally edible, if fattening. The other great thing is that gingerbread structures tend to be small and can be considered part of the tiny house movement. Because they sneak under the building code and planning guidelines, they have promoted an explosion of architectural creativity.
Over at Architizer, they have just revealed the winner of the Pritzker for Gingerbread, their annual design competition. The winner was the late Oscar Niemeyer, or at least his National Congress Building. An icon of modernist design that also functions as a candy dish. See all of the short list at Architizer.
The history of the modern gingerbread movement has been covered in detail in TreeHugger over the years. Here's a revisit of some of our peer-reviewed research and documentation:
2011: Report on the State Of Modern Green Gingerbread Design
Where we look at the introduction of gingerbread to the non-residential and multi-family sectors.
In times of economic hardship, architects and designers often have to explore new niches. In my seminal 2009 study A Brief History of Modern Gingerbread Design, I discussed the roots of this growing movement, which at the time was primarily serving early adopters, building single family gingerbread houses for suburban settings.
2010: Green Modern Gingerbread Housing Industry In Crisis
Where we look at the impact of the housing crisis on the gingerbread industry.
The modern gingerbread house industry looked so promising a few years ago; I eagerly followed every launch. But this year, it seems to have tanked as deeply as the modern construction industry. I would have thought that, along with the tiny house and shedworking movements, gingerbread would thrive in tough times; they are small, relatively economical and so very green, probably automatic cradle to cradle platinum given their edibility.
2009: A Brief History of Modern Gingerbread Design
An earlier roundup, led off by yet another Hometta design. More in TreeHugger
2009: More Green Modern Gingerbread
Well, it is a stretch to call this green gingerbread, it doesn't have solar panels or turbines or heat pumps, but it is modern, and is even called the Cake Study House in homage to the Case Study houses of the early sixties. It's from Kristina Hahn Atelier, who call it "a study in responsible development" even though it has a two car garage and a sparkling pool.
2009: Green Architects Invade Gingerbread Market
Times being what they are in the architecture biz, nobody is going to miss the rapidly expanding gingerbread world. In Vancouver, some of the greenest architects around have entered the fray. East Side Design and Solus Decor's Earthship Lollipop "is the world's first LEAD™ (Leadership in Edible Architectural Design) Platinum residence.
2008: Michelle Designs McMansion Gingerbread
Although Michelle was a pioneer in the use of GAD (gingerbread-aided design) and used this to prototype her famous MK-solaire, I was not impressed at the time.
We wrote a year ago about Michelle Kaufmann's assault of the booming prefab modern gingerbread scene, noting that "as the mortgage crisis deepens, this may be the only modern prefab market left." We are disappointed to note that whereas last year her house was a modest, one storey number, she has gone all McMansion on us with her GingerLotus, which is definitely more than we can chew in a sitting.
2008: Green Gingerbread House Smackdown: HOK Enters the Fray
Trust HOK to go all gizmo green. This had everything: licorice rainwater barrels, a jelly bean green roof, gumdrop wind turbines and our favorite LEED checkmark: a sparkly ground source heat pump. More in TreeHugger
Around the Gingerbread World 2008: Hot and Not
Here is the opportunity to ask the question "why is this on TreeHugger?" Yet another modernist single family home with floor to ceiling glass and a flat roof, demonstrating our bias toward impractical modernism over green, sustainable and affordable. Shame on you, Inhabitat and Liz Bruwin, for showing such a thing.
2007: Michelle Kaufmann Does Gingerbread
Michelle Kaufmann isn't just an architect of one of the original modern prefabs, pushing the envelope into google mashups, books and new models in all shapes and sizes. She is never one to miss a market, and has set her sights squarely on the booming prefab modern gingerbread scene. After all, as the mortgage crisis deepens, this may be the only modern prefab market left.
2007: Midcentury Modern Gingerbread House
Perhaps the one that started it all, found by Laura Sweet of NOTCOT. Of course, the price per square foot in green modern design is always a big issue:
Since it is such an important indicator of the value of real estate, at $88 bucks we calculate this to cost $176 per square foot, which is pretty cheap for good modern design. Like many prefabs, delivery is extra. Gingerbread as a structural and cladding material is completely biodegradeable for LEED points (as is the xeriscaped garden) and compostable for C2C certification.