MTN – Reaching the summit

I have built Mount Everest in LEGO! Well, just a mosaic but still…

I am quite satisfied with the result. Compared to the instructions from the mosaic maker program, I have substituted about half of the very light grey 1×1 plates with transparent 1×1 plates. This was done partly because of limited supply, partly to reflect the partial transparency of the real-life wall due to the raster effect described in the previous blog post. Also, the dark bluish grey plates representing the sky have been replaced by dark transparent plates and tiles since this part is in fact the area with the highest level of transparency.

As with all mosaics, the result looks better from a distance as seen on the picture below.

During the construction, I followed the instructions meticulously using a ruler, a pencil and temporary tiles to indicate each 10 studs. Where possible, I used larger plates and bricks to keep the wall together. It is not sturdy, but not too fragile either.

I have now moved on to the final touches including the surrounding street and canal environments.

MTN – Preparing to build Mount Everest

All the apartments are now completed except for props (tables, plants etc.) on the terraces which will be added at the end. So when you look at the model from a very specific angle (south-east corner), it looks finished.

But I have yet to build the back side of the building, the large image of Mount Everest wrapping around the parking lot under the apartments. From the images below it would appear that the image is painted on somewhat transparent panels.

However, when you come up close it turns out that all the panels are in fact the same grey/silver color and the image appears due to the raster effect of holes in various sizes!

The image below was kindly provided by the architect and is the original image of Mount Everest used to create the panels.

How do you recreate this in LEGO? I considered many different options, including using Technic bricks with holes to mimic the actual construction. But I settled for a classic, studs-up mosaic and used a LEGO mosaic maker tool to create the image below which will serve as the building instruction. The mosaic alone contains roughly 10.000 1×1 plates!

I have chosen the colors white, very light grey (from the LEGO Mosaic sets), light bluish grey and dark bluish grey as well as transparent and dark transparent which I hope will give a little of the see-through effect of the actual wall. The plates are ligned up below, color by color.

The model has been turned 180 degrees on my table. Now it is time to start building a giant mosaic!

MTN – Half way up the hill

The apartments now reach almost half the way up the hill and the model is starting to resemble the real building.

The grey sides of the model are attached at an angle to each floor in a very simple and space efficient way, that allows the studs to be aligned exactly at the wanted position. This is shown on the two pictures below.

This picture shows a subset of the apartments shortly after the building was completed. The plants have yet to grow big.

VM Bjerget

In my Lego version the green plants are more visible which corresponds to the current state of the building as seen on the image below.

Finally, a view from the top.

MTN – Starting from the bottom

Time has come to start building the main feature of the model, the 80 apartments. The remaining gray bricks from the parking garage have been put aside making room for bricks, plates and tiles in tan, dark tan and dark green.

But before construction can begin, there is a boring job to be done putting glasses in several hundred tan windows.

The ground floor consists of just two apartments. I might return and adjust the level of greenery later when I see how it works on a couple more floors.

Here, level 1 and 2 have been added and the repeated pattern of apartments start to become visible.

For reference, here is a picture of the same section of the actual building.

Only 70 more apartments to go!

MTN – The Parking Garage

The parking garage that forms the base of the building is now complete. The 8×8 studs grid of columns is very visible, as is the angled elevator in the center of the building. This is by far the most grey pieces I have ever used for a LEGO model.

I will likely add trophy figures and a few cars to the parking garage at a later stage.

The picture below shows the real life parking garage. The next step is to start building the 80 apartments on top of the garage. This will be a more colorful experience as each floor has a distinct color when seen from the inside of the parking garage.

MTN – Getting started

My first contribution to the Big Builders project was a model of 79&PARK in Stockholm. For my second model, I have chosen one of the most iconic designs by Bjarke Ingels: The Mountain – a residential structure in Copenhagen completed in 2007.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

How do you combine the splendours of the suburban backyard with the social intensity of urban density? The Mountain Dwellings are the 2nd generation of the VM Houses – same client, same size and same street. The program, however, is 2/3 parking and 1/3 living. What if the parking area became the base upon which to place terraced housing – like a concrete hillside covered by a thin layer of housing, cascading from the 11th floor to the street edge? Rather than doing two separate buildings next to each other – a parking and a housing block – we decided to merge the two functions into a symbiotic relationship.

Project description on BIG’s website

Project description on Arch Daily

With a parking garage, terraced housing on top, a picture of Mount Everest on the facade, multiple colors on the various levels, lots of greenery and all apartments turned 45 degrees compared to the outer walls, this structure is a great challenge to build in microscale using LEGO bricks!

Initial design

Having received all background material from BIG (floor plans, pictures etc.), my first step was to experiment with some of the basic elements of the model: The height of each floor, size of each apartment, available window elements and colors. The real building is constructed on a grid of columns separated by 10 meters and deciding on the model grid size would define the scale of the entire building. Using an 8×8 plate for each of the 10×10 m grids results in a distance between each floor of almost exactly 7 plates, corresponding to a plate for the floor and a 1x2x2 Window Frame for all the windows. The scale becomes 1:156 and also fits perfectly with the trophy figures as seen on the prototype below where two apartments have been stacked on top of each other at an offset.

In the previous model of 79&Park, the distance between the levels was only 5 plates (1:225) so the MTN model will be substantially larger. The ground plan is 80 x 96 studs (including surrounding pedestrian areas) and the model will be built and transported in one piece.

As for the color selection, the only real decision was the color of the wooden facade. Although Dark Tan would have matched the actual color better, Tan was selected because of the larger part selection, especially the 1x2x2 Window Frame. Dark tan is used for the terraces for contrast. In the picture above, I also tried regular Brown for the wooden panels, but that was simply too dark.

The rest of the design process was done with pencil, ruler and checkered paper and some help from a LEGO mosaic maker program for the facade picture of Mt. Everest (more on that in a future post).

Having received the bricks for the project (including a lot of bricks and plates with a 45 degree angle included), the construction has now begun, starting with the base and the parking garage. So far, it looks pretty grey.

The 10x10m grid can be seen on the drawings in the picture above and the picture below shows the real life parking garage.

DONG – First prototypes

Many of the BIG models showcased on this blog will be on display as part of a major BIG exhibition, Formgivning (from June 12th to October 20th 2019) in Danish Architecture Centre recently relocated to the new BLOX building on the Copenhagen harbour front.

BIG would like to add some interaction to the LEGO displays by having the guests collaborate on constructing BIG architecture from LEGO themselves! How could this be done? After some brainstorming, the idea of using the DONG – Dortheavej Residence for the purpose came up as it consists of 70 almost identical prefabricated containers. The guests could simply build one container each (or in teams) and stack them to create the final model.

The pictures below show the DONG building. The description is taken from the BIG project website

The characteristic checkered pattern of Dortheavej is based on a singular prefab structure. Conceived as a porous wall, the building gently curves in the center, creating space for a public plaza towards the street.

The housing modules repeat along the curve and are stacked to the height of the surrounding buildings. The stacking creates additional space for each appartment to have a small terrace.

Long wooden planks cover the facade on all sides, highlighting the modules and alternating to accentuate the checkered pattern.

To test the feasibility of the idea, a prototype of a prefab module was built. Based on the architectural drawings, it turned out that modules could be represented very accurately in minifig scale by a 16×32 standard baseplate footprint and 10 bricks in height.

A very important design aspect to capture in the LEGO version is the alternating wooden planks in the facade. The “back” of the Masonry brick in Dark Tan combined with a single line of plates and tiles at the top and bottom gives a nice effect and makes it easy to make a snot construction (as 5 plates = 2 bricks). For the facades with smaller windows, the height of each panel could simply be doubled as seen on the picture below.

Having built the first prototype and being satisfied with the look of the facade, the next step was to consider constructability. How do we make a container that is both sturdy and easy to built for the exhibition guests with simple instructions? The solution was to split the construction in three: The easy, open container module and the two distinct facade types that can be clicked on to the container. In that way, it would be possible to split the construction of the container between more people with different LEGO skills.

The first prototype of this concept was built in grey to optimize the construction and part usage before eventually ordering large quantities of the bricks in dark tan. At this stage, we also had to consider the very limited part selection in dark tan.

The concpet seemed to work, the facades would clip on easily. Next step was to order the necessary bricks and start building more containers to see if the idea of simply stacking them in a curve was feasible. More on that in a later blog post!

 

79&PARK – The final model

The YouTube video below presents the final model, comparing the LEGO version to the visualizations of the actual building. I am very satisfied with the end result.

Below are images with various angles and light. I particularly like the last image imitating the sunset with large shadows.

The professional images were shot at the studios of Trendshots.dk, who specialize in product images for webshops. The pictures below show the process. Each of the final pictures is composed of three images with varying focus and has been cleared of any background noise and clutter.

As can be seen on the picture above, the model sits on top of a turn table which allowed us to take a 360 degree image of the model. Click the image below to see the model turn.

http://360.trendshots.dk/jonas/lego/1.aspx

The model is currently on display in the foyer of LEGO House in Billund alongside all the other buildings in the BIG Builders project. It can be seen in its own display case in the back of the picture.

79&PARK – Finishing Touches

My LEGO model of 79&PARK is now complete and ready to be displayed in LEGO House in Billund, Denmark in April. I need to find time to take some decent photos before showing the full model.

The finishing touches included the inner courtyard which is largely based on this one photo from the project material.

The courtyard is somewhat more colorful than the roof terraces so I added a few extra colors to represent flowers including lime green and dark yellow. The main path through the courtyard is kept in light gray to match with the sidewalk.

Finally, the streets and alleys surrounding the building were designed. The site is rectangular except for one side and has streets on two sides. The greenery is taken from the below reference picture.

The streets are built in four sections corresponding to the four sides. They slide under the building and attach to each other with Technic pins. They are not attached to the building, however, which allows some flexibility to position the  building in the exact 45 degree angle.

Building the angled street was the most challenging. I ended up with a technique using rotated 1×1 bricks with stud on one side, clips and bars to ensure the right angle and distance between the sidewalk and the street as seen below.

The final street, with some splashes of dark yellow flowers.

I did experiment using some of the other part options for greenery on the final model (see previous post on greenery) but I decided to keep my initial choice using only the olive green and brown flower stem parts for trees and green and light green flowers for leaves all over the model. This gives some, but not too much, variation.

Similarly, I experimented with other grille colors for the lamellas but kept the original brown choice as it looked best. Quite possibly because I had gotten used to that color during the building process.

Stay tuned for photos of the finished model!

79&PARK – Ending with the base

The building itself is now complete except for final corrections. Left is to build a  base for the building, the inner courtyard and the streets around the building.

Looking back, it might have been a good idea to plan and build the base of the building first (just like in real life) and think about the positioning of the wiring for the lights. It turned out to be a bit of a nightmare to build and attach the base since the building is very heavy and all facades are built with SNOT (Studs Not On Top).

The picture below shows my sketches for the base and the choice of plates. It is quite clear that it is not just a rectangular base.

To provide structural stability, the base is built as a classical “sandwich” (plate, brick, plate and tile) with Technic bricks and classic 2xX bricks in rarely used colors.

To attach the base, the building was carefully placed on the side, and plates and tiles were placed in the top layer of the base to match the underside of the building. Also, the inner courtyard part of the base was left open in order to hide the wires after attachment.

The base does not extend all the way to the edge of the building as the streets will be attached at 45 degree angle and “slide” underneath the edge.

The next step is to hide the wires in the base and build the inner courtyard on top. That will be the topic of a future blog post.