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!

XPO – EXPO 2010 Danish Pavilion

A LEGO model of The Danish Pavilion in Shanghai, China will be build by Helgi Toftegaard.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

The Danish Pavilion was designed to not only exhibit Danish virtues, but, through interaction, to give the visitor an experience of some of the best attractions in Copenhagen: the city bike, the harbor bath, the nature playground and an ecological picnic. The bike is a vernacular means of transportation and a national symbol common to Denmark and China. With the pavilion we relaunched the bike in Shanghai as a symbol of modern lifestyle and sustainable urban development. The pavilion’s 1500 city bikes were offered for general use to the visitors during EXPO 2010.

In the heart of the pavilion was a harbor bath, which is filled up with seawater from Copenhagen harbor. The visitors could swim in the bath and not only hear about the clean water, but actually feel and taste it. The Little Mermaid was transported to Shanghai to sit in the waterline of the pavilion’s harbor bath exactly as she is in Copenhagen harbor.

The first step for the model building was to build some tests:

How to build curved
Floor and roof
Facade surface
The bikes are essential in this LEGO model

… and then to the challenging part: getting the model to turn around itself

MAR – The Maritime Youth House

A LEGO model of The Maritime Youth House is built by Anne Mette Vestergård.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

The Maritime Youth House, located on the island of Amager, in Copenhagen, took as point of departure a technical problem related with the physical characteristics of the plot. A third of our budget was allocated to remove polluted topsoil. By covering the site with a wooden deck, we could leave the soil where it was and invest the money on the building, rather than the site’s polluted topsoil. The result is a public landscape of social functions surrounded by water on all sides, breathing new life into a former desolate harbor front.


Two very different users with conflicting requirements had to share the facilities: a sailing club and a youth center.

The youth center wanted outdoor space for the kids to play, while the sailing club required most of the site to moor their boats. The building is the result of these two contradictory demands. The deck is elevated high enough to allow for boat storage underneath while providing an undulating landscape for the kids to run and play above.

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.

APH – Audemars Piguet Hôtel des Horlogers

A LEGO model of APH is built by Jessica Farrell

In the description of the building, BIG states:

Neighboring the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, the Hôtel des Horlogers is seamlessly integrated into the smooth topography of the scenic Vallée de Joux. Five zig-zagging room slabs expand into a gently sloping exterior path, leading directly to the museum and local ski trails. On the interior, a continuous sloping corridor connects the rooms, facilitating visitor and service circulation. The amenities—two restaurants, a bar, a spa and a conference center—are tucked under the inclined slabs and oriented towards light and views to become individual destinations along the exterior path. From the main access road, the hotel’s tilting slabs frame views of the surrounding Vallée de Joux, establishing a connection between the village and the pastoral landscape.

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XPO – EXPO 2010 Danish Pavilion

A LEGO model of The Danish Pavilion, built for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China will be build by Helgi Toftegaard.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

The Danish Pavilion was designed to not only exhibit Danish virtues, but, through interaction, to give the visitor an experience of some of the best attractions in Copenhagen: the city bike, the harbor bath, the nature playground and an ecological picnic. The bike is a vernacular means of transportation and a national symbol common to Denmark and China. With the pavilion we relaunched the bike in Shanghai as a symbol of modern lifestyle and sustainable urban development. The pavilion’s 1500 city bikes were offered for general use to the visitors during EXPO 2010.

In the heart of the pavilion was a harbor bath, which is filled up with seawater from Copenhagen harbor. The visitors could swim in the bath and not only hear about the clean water, but actually feel and taste it. The Little Mermaid was transported to Shanghai to sit in the waterline of the pavilion’s harbor bath exactly as she is in Copenhagen harbor.

In addition to promoting new modes of transportation, the Danish Pavilion was also the only naturally ventilated at the Expo. Air was cooled by the presence of the water, then, following the unique form of the building, moved through the entire space.

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.

CON – Urban rigger

A LEGO model of Urban Rigger is built by Anne Mette Vestergård.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

Recent years have demonstrated a substantial and sustained increase in the number of student applicants throughout Denmark. As the number of students continues to grow, additional student housing will be needed to accommodate them. There are few strategies that allow cities to expand. Yet, Copenhagen’s harbor remains an underutilized and underdeveloped area at the heart of the city. By introducing a building typology optimized for harbor cities we can introduce a housing solution that will keep students at the heart of the city.

Meanwhile, the standardized container system has been developed to allow goods to be transported by road, water or air, to anywhere in the world in a complex network of operators at a very low cost. By making use of the standard container system we are offered the framework for an extremely flexible building typology.

By stacking 9 container units in a circle, we can create 12 studio residences which frame a centralized winter garden; this is used as a common meeting place for students. The housing is also buoyant, like a boat, so that can be replicated in other harbor cities where affordable housing is needed, but space is limited.

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.