Gingerbread: The Greenest Building 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.

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2010: Green Modern Gingerbread Housing Industry In Crisis

hometta© Hometta

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.

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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

gingerbread architecture cake study house perspective

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.

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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 LEADâ„¢ (Leadership in Edible Architectural Design) Platinum residence.

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2008: Michelle Designs McMansion Gingerbread

gingerlotus model image

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.

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2008: Green Gingerbread House Smackdown: HOK Enters the Fray

hok gingerbread overall photo

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

bruwin modernist photo

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.

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2007: Michelle Kaufmann Does Gingerbread

michelle-kaufmann gingerbread house

Michelle's first.

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.

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2007: Midcentury Modern Gingerbread House

the spendersRed envelope/Promo image

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.

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Gingerbread: The Greenest Building Material
The key to a healthy home is to build it of materials so benign you can eat them.

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