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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
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

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas