Data loading...

Tuna Cans: The Building Tools Of Engineers And Architects Global, March 13, 12

Tuna cans are perfect building blocks for the creation of mammoth structures, say architects and engineers competing in the global Canstruction competition.

“The tuna-sized can is the best can for any sculpture that breaches or challenges the limits of what the can structure can do. It’s so small,” explains Texas-based architect Lindsey Leah Brigati.

Canstruction is an international food drive that challenges teams to design and build structures out of canned goods. Once the structures are built, the creations become a three-dimensional art exhibit for the public. Last year, 103 cities participated from around the world and the charity donated over 2,526,768 pounds of food to local food banks.

In 2010, Brigati’s team at Page Southerland Page, an architectural and engineering firm, built a funnel-shaped tornado from 4,250 cans of tuna. It won last year’s international award for structural ingenuity.

Janice Podmore, one of the organizers of the upcoming event in Vancouver, says the vast majority of donated cans in her city are tuna. Each year her event raises about 100,000 cans and she estimates 90 percent of that total is tuna.

“For the food bank, it’s fantastic. Protein is the most expensive for them to buy,” says Podmore.

Besides the obvious nutritional benefits, the uniform size of the tuna can is also valued, says Vancouver-based mechanical engineer James Hearne. His team at engineering company Fluor Canada prefers to use tuna cans because they offer a larger selection of labels, which means more colours to choose from. It’s difficult to create a pretty picture with one colour, he says.

At the end of March, his team is planning to construct a collage of Vancouver landmarks in an upside down umbrella. Last year, they created a sea serpent and donated 8,500 cans – of which more than 6,000 were tuna.

“The food bank is trying to feed people who would not otherwise be well-nourished. Protein’s key and tuna has lots of it,” says Hearne.

Toronto, New York and Dallas were the top three cities in 2010-2011, each raising over 80,000 pounds of canned goods.