Daily Features

LEGO Gets It White

The company attempts to capture the imaginations of budding architects with its new Architecture Studio

By Jennifer Krichels, Superscript September 6, 2013

There is a long and fabled history of the reciprocal relationship between architects and children’s building toys. For example, it was John Wright, son of American architecture’s patron saint Frank Lloyd Wright, who invented Lincoln Logs. He came up with the idea while he and his father were working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, after discovering a Japanese foundation strategy involving notched logs that provided enough tolerance to handle seismic movement. Even Lord Norman Foster has admitted the profound influence that British model construction sets Meccano and Trix, which he played with as a child, had on his design sensibility. Indeed, it doesn’t take a child’s imagination to see the cranes and pulleys and exposed engines of these playthings as precedents for his HSBC tower in Hong Kong.

Retailing for $149.99, LEGO's Architecture Studio includes 1,210 LEGO bricks and an inspirational guidebook.


The Books

Brick by Brick David C. Robertson
Bill Breen
Architecture on the Carpet Brenda Vale
Robert Vale

So it’s no real surprise that LEGO has released a new offering targeted directly at children who aspire to join the ranks of the architectural design profession. The Danish company’s Architecture Studio is a $149.99 set that includes 1,210 LEGO bricks, most of which are white, though a handful are transparent, for glazing purposes. 

Color isn’t the only thing that’s gone missing from the set. For the first time, LEGO has also omitted the instructions that usually accompany its blocks. Instead, the studio comes with a 272-page inspirational guidebook that contains chapters detailing a variety of architectural concepts and a workshop section at the end with exercises to help a still-forming mind develop some professional-grade design chops. Edited by Christopher Turner, the book includes workshops and other contributions from leading architecture firms including Sou Fujimoto, SOM, MAD, Moshe Safdie, REX, and others.

LEGO has done away with instructions for this set, instead including an inspirational guidebook written in collaboration with leading architects and edited by Christopher Turner. Image courtesy of LEGO.

Like the decision to include a less prescriptive publication with the set, the plain color palette is meant to free users to be creative with their buildings' forms. As the guidebook explains: “It is no coincidence that Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Buckminster Fuller were all taught kindergarten in the school system that introduced building blocks into educational play. These simple forms reveal the first traces of modernism—the start of a relationship between architecture and creative children’s games that continues to this day.” Only time will tell how a new generation of LEGOs today will affect the world’s future generations of architects.

An interior page from the inspirational guidebook discusses how architects think about interior space. Image courtesy of LEGO.

Another page explores the topic of surface. Image courtesy of LEGO.

The LEGO Architecture Studio toolkit. Photo courtesy of LEGO.
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