I defy anyone to emerge from this pop-up exhibition that renders an urban planning blueprint in the form of gingerbread buildings and city spaces constructed from sweets without a grin on the face and giddy ample warmth in the heart (on the day I attended the adults were just as enchanted as their young charges). Sponsored by design firm Tibbalds, a host of architectural agencies were tasked with creating sites for a cityscape broken into quarters, encompassing an Old Town, a tech-forward New Town, transport hub Energy Town and Eco Town, a district for sustainable and renewable programmes. As well as engaging on a level of pure aesthetic pleasure (and a source of olfactory rapture-upon entrance, a heady aroma of sugar and spice sends your senses spinning), the production invites a visitor to reflect upon those divergent structural elements that must somehow coalesce to create a harmonious, cohesive and stable urban environment, one that will thrive and continue to advance (a respect for the past but acknowledgement of need for continuous development). The individual buildings and public spaces are marvels of imagination and detail-gumdrops, icing, treacle, delicate spun sugar, wafers, berry whips, marshmallows are marshalled  to boisterous, awe-inspiring means to suggest materials and architectural aspects. There are factories, businesses, a bank, a stadium, mall, recycling centre, even an imposing castle on a hill, bridges linking the areas of the town. Between are lollipop and candy cane fields, parks with trees of meringue and jelly button gardens, bodies of water suggested in coloured sugar, sandscapes constructed of brown sugar-each step taken generates a new catch of breath. Within and without the spaces is an array of activity, from roof garden parties to open-air cinemas to hot-air balloon rides to construction sites to beachside bathing . The two titans (Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid) are granted their own room for their sector creations before a visitor walks into the main space with the central city sprawl. How on earth with the amount of excitable children who must have marauded through the exhibition these past few weeks, and the fairly narrow passageways around the tables, that several of the creations haven’t been compromised (or entirely lost) is a wonder. The opportunity to view this year’s city is dwindling, but keep this in mind for 2018, as it is an event that you miss at your peril-it plugs directly into the brain circuitry that regulates the centre of childlike delight. The challenge is in suppressing the (antisocial) impulse to consume it all. Gingerbread City is displayed through 22 December




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