The Fictive Architecture of European Banknotes Sculpted From Sugar

One of the key challenges faced by the European currency union, the Euro, was that of their design. In 2002, when the banknotes entered circulation across large parts of the European Union, the imagery that they possessed had to represent a continent of cultures. The answer: to create fictitious illustrations or, as the European Central Bank states, "stylised illustrations [of windows, doorways and bridges], not images of, or from, actual constructions." In a recent exhibition architect Anna Pang, in collaboration with Johan Holkers and Rolf Stålberg, have attemped to present the "fictive architecture" of the Euro as sugar sculpture.

European Banknotes: €5 – Classical; €10 – Romanesque; €20 – Gothic; €50 – Renaissance; €100 – Baroque; €200 – Art Nouveau; €500 – Modernism

"For hundreds of years," Pang states, "sugar sculptures [have been] common in Europe." They were presented at official dinners and ceremonies and, although edible, their primary task was to display incredible wealth and power. In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned a copy of Bramante’s Tempietto (Rome) in sugar, while in the 19th Century the famous chef Carême decorated the Emporer Napoelon’s dinner table with imaginary sugar buildings. Sugar, being a luxury good, also demanded a specific and complex craft in the act of sculpting it. According to Pang, a number of well-known artists and architects were commissioned for their design, and a recurring motif was that of architecture.

Historic image by Theodor Graminaeus (showing a 16th century table with sugar sculptures). Image © Getty Research Institute, Getty's Open Content Program

Confiction, which has been on display at Stockholm's Hallwylska museet, "explores the symbolic function of the euro architecture by giving it form and context in sugar." The name itself is a combination of the Latin word confectio, meaning an arrangement and used to describe the sugar craft in different languages, and the word 'fiction' – something imaginary, but also "a vehicle through which to discuss reality"

Hallwylska museet, Stockholm. Image © Jens Mohr / Hallwylska museet
Hallwylska museet, Stockholm. Image © Jens Mohr / Hallwylska museet
© Gustav Almestâl

Confiction has been created with support from the Swedish Arts Council and Fondazione Famiglia Rausing / The Swedish Institute in Rome.

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Cite: AD Editorial Team. "The Fictive Architecture of European Banknotes Sculpted From Sugar" 27 Oct 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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