The hottest tickets in central London this week have been to the roof at Selfridges, where architectural food engineers extraordinaires, Bompas and Parr, have created a fantasy garden complete with boating lake. And all in aid of a South American plant called Stevia, which has leaves 200 times sweeter than sugar, and therefore in theory can produce a natural sweetening effect at zero calorific value. Truvia, owned by Coca Cola and the object of this fantastically engineered promotion, claims to be a direct derivative of this plant. It sounds almost too good to be true: that you could drink unlimited Coke with no calories, flavoured with a natural sweetener, and that is up for debate.
What is not though, is the amazing engineering feat of this site. It took 190 metres of steel reinforcement to be carried up to the roof by hand after hours to support the 60 tons water needed for the lake. Bompas and Parr started out making architectural models of edible jelly in 2007, but have since developed into other sweet extravaganzas such as a cake for Lanvin using half a ton of sugar (and out of which leapt the performer Theo Adams), to a recent installation of a 5 ton chocolate fountain in Whiteleys.
The drinks were provided by the Experimental Cocktail Company, which included delicious non-alcohol concoctions from the Rare Tea Company and Caravan Coffee, all sweetened with Truvia. It was all a magical experience and a world away from the seething hordes on Oxford Street below.