In the early 1930s, architects Lubetkin and Drake (Tecton) were experimenting with new forms and materials when they designed the Penguin Pool at London Zoo. Yesterday, artist Elizabeth Adams (RIBA Library) followed their example by fashioning a model of this Grade I listed building out of another new construction material, gingerbread.
Bright blue icing has been used to represent the water – its surface textured to recreate the ripples as the three marzipan penguins jump in from the cantilevered spiral ramps. On closer inspection it seems one of them might be escaping!
The model was made and baked in a single night, measures 25 centimetres long and six centimetres high, and reinforced with chocolate mortar. Smaller versions were created for consumption.
The RIBA British Architectural Library holds a range of articles, archival material, drawings and photographs relating to the Penguin Pool. Among the most recent items are journal articles on the closure of the pool in 2002, due to the effect it had on the penguins’ feet, and the opening of its replacement in 2008 (Building Design 2008 March 7, p.32).
Here are a few pictures of the Penguin Pool from the Library collections – more can be seen on RIBApix: