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New Italian food theme park features an edible chocolate building by architect Carlo Ratti

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edible chocolate pavilion fico eataly world carlo ratti

An edible chocolate building designed by Carlo Ratti is a featured attraction at Fico Eataly World, Italy’s new food theme park. (Photos by Daniele Iodice)

Every chocoholic’s fantasy has come true at Fico Eataly World, a new food theme park in northern Italy that features an edible chocolate building designed by international architect Carlo Ratti.

Carlo Ratti’s edible chocolate building is the centerpiece of the Venchi Chocolate area within Fico Eataly World, a theme park dedicated to Italian food culture that opened on Nov. 15, 2017, near the city of Bologna. Inside the pavilion, Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has also developed a number of chocolate-related “experiences”, including the use of artificial intelligence to measure one’s reactions and feelings when eating sweets.

The external walls of the pavilion are made up of more than 30 thousand chocolates of different varieties, spread over a 26-foot wide, 11.5-foot tall surface. The candies, which guests can pick off and eat, are arranged in a mosaic that makes them look like a giant chocolate bar.

After entering through the chocolate wall, visitors are invited to sit inside a booth and try different Venchi chocolates. Using Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition technologies developed in collaboration with Milan-based interaction design studio Dotdotdot, each person’s reactions to different types of chocolate are inferred form the micro-movements of lips, eyebrows, pupils, nostrils and forehead.

Following the individual tasting experience, visitors walk into the “Chocolate Portraits” room, where recordings of prior visitors’ emotions when eating chocolate are projected, with individual reactions shown in bright colors. After exiting the Chocolate Portraits room, visitors enter a laboratory where they can observe and partake into the making of Venchi’s products, where they can get a hands-on demo of the manufacturing process, by creating a fully customized chocolate bar.

“I never liked the fact that exhibitions require the use of large amounts of construction materials that then end up in landfills after just a few months”, said Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “In this project we thought: what if the pavilion could be dismantled by simply eating it? We also liked the reference to the timeless fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. The construction process, however, proved to be more challenging than we initially thought – as some building parts were eaten up on site during the installation…”

The Venchi edible chocolate building is just one component of Fico Eataly World, which features 25 acres of restaurants, interactive educational “carousel” attractions, and agricultural exhibits. For more information about the park, visit eatalyworld.it, and watch this video from Carlo Ratti on the construction of the edible chocolate pavilion:

An edible building made of chocolate / Carlo Ratti Associati for Venchi

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