“Together We Win — United We Eat” by The SK&A Group

Pantry staples are not the best building material. “Full cans of food are less stable than you think,” says Andrea Ryon of Michael Baker International, one of 28 local architecture firms vying for such awards as “Best Meal” and “Best Use of Labels” in this year’s Canstruction contest at the National Building Museum. All proceeds, plus about 65,000 cans, go to the Capital Area Food Bank after the whimsical sculptures are taken apart Saturday. We asked a few teams how they created such structurally sound stacks.

Together We Win — United We Eat
The SK&A Group
With more than 6,000 cans, this World Cup-inspired structure is a strong contender for the “Most Cans” prize. “Our biggest concern was making sure it was structurally sound,” says team member Charmaine Josiah. In addition to using 3-D modeling software, the team made a candy model. “Sweet Tarts have proportions that are similar to tuna fish cans,” Josiah says.

CANopy House
Michael Baker International
If this treehouse structure were a real building, it might qualify for LEED certification, says team member Andrea Ryon: “It’s made of natural and recycled materials, and it doesn’t use any electricity.” Maintenance could become an issue, however. “Over time, the spaghetti ladder may not hold up. You may have to get good at climbing up the bean cans,” Ryon says.

Green Giant’s Cornado
Sorg Architects
Construction took almost seven hours, the entire allotted build time. “We had to tear it down and rebuild it four times,” says team member Nick Brow, because the thin pieces of foam core, used to level the tuna fish cans, were warping under the cans’ weight. The solution: Fewer layers of stabilizing foam. “It’s holding up, but I would definitely not want to live in it,” Brow says.