Sonia Sobrino Ralston is a designer and researcher.

Sonia Sobrino Ralston is a designer and researcher.

2022 Tallinn Architecture Biennale: Archaeology of Architecture and Food
TAB2022: Edible, Or the Architecture of Metabolism (2022)
Assistant Curator to curators Lydia Kallipoliti and Areti Markopoulou

In the biennale, “food” was approached both literally and metaphorically. On the one hand, the biennale explored architectural strategies of local production and self-sufficiency, and on the other, operations that use by-products of urban life, replacing the traditional linear systems of “make, use and dispose” with circular systems that aim to limit material and resource loss. The show opened in September 2022, and involved an exhibition, vision competition, and symposium.

The Archaeology of Architecture and Food, which I led the design and research for, explored edible architectures through the 20th and 21st centuries. Writing a minor history of architecture through the lens of metabolism requires a categorization that responds to two conceptual forces, seemingly irreconcilable when thinking of built form. On the one hand, the architecture included in this archaeology was growing, consuming, producing energy, or rotting, thus placing it in a timeline of metabolic relationships on a material level. On the other hand, the selected spatial projects were entangled with complex social, environmental, and political forces that inform their materiality over time. In a series of categories for conceptual and digestive processes–Cultivating Consumption, Performing Ingestion, Territorializing Provision, Codifying Preparation, Systematizing Digestion, and Regulating Decomposition–we encouraged viewers to read these projects in constellations of material and political interrelationships. While the organization of the installation acknowledges the chronological order, the various categories allow for new, non-linear readings to emerge, prompting dialogue and cross-fertilization between otherwise disparate projects.

The installation was staged as a recipe cabinet and kitchen pantry, with precedents and their descriptions hanging from the shelves alongside food items, cooking utensils, maps, and recipe books. In framing the Archaeology as a pantry, we wanted to present an incomplete history of architectural precedents from climate-oriented, anti-colonial, and feminist frameworks as a set of ingredients to think with, add to, and to develop futures for edible architecture informed by the thinking and knowledge of many voices, many contexts, and with many possible outcomes.

Archaeology of Architecture and Food installation co-created with Lydia Kallipoliti and Sanjana Lahiri.

TAB2022 graphic by Sonia.
Pink graphic by Sonia Sobrino Ralston.

The Archaeology of Architecture and Food

Last updated: May 2024

The background changes according to the diurnal cycles of Boston, MA.