Monday, August 19, 2013

LEGO Architecture Studio - Best Toy Ever

The LEGO Architecture series has typically featured recreations of notable examples of great architecture:  Falling Water, Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building.  They're beautiful models, but they go against the spirit of what LEGO is all about.  Creativity.  My favourite moments playing with LEGO involved sitting on the rec-room floor in the middle of thousands of the little plastic bricks and just building.  It didn't matter what I built, I just made it up as I went along.

So I was really excited when I heard about the new Architecture Studio set; and even more excited when my wife gave it to me as a birthday present.

The Architecture Studio features over 1200 pieces of white LEGO bricks, and a beautiful 272 page book containing insights from some of the top architecture firms in the world: REX architecture, Sou Fujimoto Architects, SOM, MAD Architects, Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, and Safdie Architects.

And that's it.  Go play.  Go create.  

It's beautifully simple and returns LEGO to it's roots, albeit in a somewhat haughty designer-y kind of way.  But I'm okay with that.  If you need a little bit of structure the book also features a series of exercises to help you explore the concepts being discussed.  The first exercise deals with abstraction - using various sources as inspiration for the design process.

Using the image of a bird as inspiration I first created a "sketch-model."  That's my bird above.  It seems my LEGO skills, although rusty, are still in tact.

Next, I imagined it as an architectural object.  It could be part of a bigger object, perhaps part of a city-scape.  Again, there were no rules.  My bird morphed into my plan for a new Coast Guard station in Vancouver (we just lost ours to government cut-backs).  There's a fenced in area for staging supplies, a landing area for the helicopter, and the glass areas are the observation tower.

All in all I spent about an hour working through the exercise, and it left me feeling a) like I was 10 years old again, and b) amazed at how similar the process I had just gone through with the bird was with the process I go through designing kitchens.  That's not to say I'm inspired by birds when I design a kitchen (although I could be I suppose) but I often use a design element in the room our house I'm working in to start on my kitchen design.

The Architecture Studio retails for about $150, which I am told is very close to the $0.10/brick rule of thumb employed by many LEGO fanatics.  Add the book and this set, while not inexpensive, is very good value.

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