Build yourself a model landmark

You don't have to be a starchitect to get your hands on prime real estate. Lego's latest range gives everyone the chance to build the world's greatest urban landmarks. Michael Glover gets stuck in

It was in 1934, exactly three quarters of a century ago, that a Danish carpenter called Ole Kirk Christiansen pioneered the making of wooden toys in his workshop. Two years later he started a company called Lego. Now, Lego, the maker of bright, brash, interlocking plastic structures for delighted children at Christmas and birthdays, which range from pick-up trucks to dinosaurs, has teamed up with a company called BrickStructures to fabricate a range of micro-scale models of some of the most eye-catching buildings in the world: the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, the Seattle Space Needle, the Burj Dubai Tower, and the Guggenheim Museum.

The first structure off the drawing board was relatively simple. It was Le Corbusier's square-edged concrete home, the Villa Savoye, which dates from 1929. Being modular in construction, the structure readily lent itself to being re-created in simple building blocks. Then, as ambitions soared, things got taller and taller, and more and more complicated. The rigidly squared off made way for curves and then, with the Guggenheim, complicated, ever upwardly mobile spiralling. Fortunately for the Lego maker of today, each kit comes with an instruction booklet, and, for the slightly older enthusiast, factual notes about the building and its architectural significance.

So the product spans the ages, and this very fact helps to remind us that all architects were once model builders, and most probably enthusiastic Lego builders too – well, the more recent ones anyway. In fact, what Lego is doing looks and feels like the continuation of any architectural practice anywhere. From Palladio to Zaha Hadid, every architect who has ever practised has worked with architectural models – and anyone who has recently visited the Andrea Palladio show at the Royal Academy will remember how the galleries are absolutely stuffed with small-scale models of villas, temples and churches, some realised, many unrealized and even unrealizable. The fact is that as Palladio knew, then and every architect knows now, no building could be made unless it were first tested and re-tested and refined in the model-maker's crucible – checking the sightlines, the height and dimensions of windows relative to the floor and so on. There are so many different considerations to be weighed in the balance. What's more, the architect's life consists of round after round of punishing and costly public competitions, and each one depends for its success or failure upon the making of detailed models, many of which will most likely be discarded along the way – or left to embellish the shelves of the architect's office. Shelved dreams, you might call them.

And what is so interesting about the Lego/BrickStructures is that these are a handful of the extravagant dreams that actually made it off the modelling bench and into the real world. And now every kidult in this same world can re-fashion each one of these dreams, block by block. What is more, the very fact that real structures have been dissected in this way, in spite of the fact that they are necessarily much simpler versions of their final selves, will undoubtedly encourage the model maker to take an interest in the fact that to make a model at home in this way is an important step along the road to becoming a maker of real looming and often awe-inspiring structures.

Yes, the nifty-fingered, table-top-conquering, Lego architects of today may well develop, in the fullness of time, into some of our prize-winning architects of, say, the day after tomorrow.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Colin Firth and Emma Stone star together in Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's 1920s romance

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Life and Style
The findings suggest that some of the genetic factors which influence birth size may play a part in influencing an infant’s mental development
health...while smaller babies have greater schizophrenia risk, study claims
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

    £24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week