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.

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.

 

79&PARK – Let there be light!

In this third post about my LEGO model of 79&PARK, I will show how small LED lights are built into the model. The picture below is one of the first reference pictures of 79&PARK I saw, and I immediately figured that I needed to incorporate light effects into the model to be able to mimic the atmosphere in the photo.  

I use the Pico Lights from Brickstuff (http://www.brickstuff.com) and even for my trained LEGO hands, the handling of the small lights, wires and print boards can be a bit tricky. But the lights fit within a 1×1 plate and the wires are easily hidden between two bricks, so the system is ideal for micro scale building.

I own a total of 14 Pico Lights that will be placed in the windows facing the lowest part of the building (the front). To save on the Pico lights, there will be no light effects on the back of the model.

Initially, I have installed the lights as the building progresses making sure that the wires are hidden and come out of the bottom of the building in the inner court yard. Eventually, I will built the foundation of the building and the wires will be hidden underneath.

The picture below shows an example of a Pico light installed in a 1x2x2 window at the very front of the building.

The second example below shows a Pico light installed inside a white profile brick. This gives a very nice curtain effect and a yellow glow.

The first four lights have been installed on the picture below. I am quite pleased with the added effect and it comes quite close to the “feel” of the initial reference photo.

Overall, the model really starts to take shape with the sixth floor soon completed and half of the roof top terraces built. The compact interior makes the building very heavy compared to its relatively small size. But as almost all facade elements are attached by SNOT connections, the model is also quite fragile when it is lifted.

79&PARK – Plants and greenery

This second blog post about my LEGO model of 79&PARK will focus on the plants and greenery of the building. A very distinct feature of the building is the many rooftop terraces with various grasses, flowers, plants and trees, but plants are also found in the inner courtyard and along the streets outside the building.

The original drawings indicate for each rooftop pixel one of two types of vegetation (if not a wooden terrace, either shared or private): “Sedum/grass” or “Perennials”. However, as it is clear from the reference photos these vegetation types come in many color variations.

In addition, a number of trees, bushes and flowers in various shapes and sizes are found throughout the building.

In my initial design of the LEGO model, I did not settle on any specific element or colors for the greenery. Instead, I ordered small amounts of a number of different tiles and special elements suitable for micro-scale greenery. The selection can be seen on the picture below.

In the end, I will not be using all of these element, but rather experiment with different combinations as I go along.

For a first test, I went with Tan for the terraces, Dark Green and Olive Green for “Sedum/grass” pixels and other shades of green and brown for the “Perennials” pixels. Also, I experimented with different textures on certain pixels using grilles, flower elements and round 1×1 tiles. The result can be seen below. White 1×1 round tiles indicate furniture on the terraces.

I think it looks quite all right, but it is very likely that I will change some of the pixels or plants when I have built the full model. The final decision on colors and plant elements will be based on “what looks best”: Some variation, but not too much clutter.

The rest of the building is also coming along with three full floors now being built. Most pixels use the two standard cubes shown in the first blog post, however, for the corners and certain areas of the building where the direction of the windows change, I have had to come up with some more complicated solutions.

 You may have noticed wiring in the last two photos. And yes, the building will be fitted with lights, that is the topic of a future post.

 

79&PARK – Getting started

My contribution for the Big Builders project will be a LEGO model of 79&PARK, a large residential building currently under construction in Stockholm, Sweden.

A few renderings and model pictures are shown in this post, but a lot more pictures and information on the project can be found here:

79&PARK on BIG website

79&PARK on Oscar Properties website

In the description of the building, BIG states:

…the massing is visually reduced through a language of pixels, scaled to the human form. This manipulation not only allows for a more organic expression, perfectly reflecting the surrounding landscape, but also provides a way to accomplish the building topography in a controlled and inexpensive way through the use of prefabricated units of standardized sizes.

Naturally, the use of pixels in standardized sizes also makes 79&PARK a wonderful subject for a LEGO model!

Scale selection

When designing a LEGO architectural model, one of the first decisions is obviously the scale which determines the overall size of the model. In this case, the size of the individual pixels becomes a natural anchor.

A pixel size of 1×1 stud would be the smallest possible, whereas a minifig scale model (corresponding to LEGO play sets) would require a pixel size of at least 8×8 studs. Such a model would be enormous. As the length of the pixel side is doubled, the overall volume of the building grows by a factor of 8 and the number of bricks needed increases by roughly the same.

I settled on a pixel size of 2×2 studs which gives a model of about 2 standard LEGO baseplates (32×32 studs) in size. At this size, it is still possible to create details such as balconies, windows and vegetation. As the pixels have a length of 3,6 m in real life and 2 LEGO studs measure 1,6 cm, the scale becomes 1:225.

The distance between the floors of the building is 3,1 m so each pixel is almost cubic. At the selected scale, the height of each level would be 4,3 LEGO plates. Rounding up to 5 plates (= 2 studs) makes the pixels cubic and opens up for a vast number of construction possibilities using SNOT techniques (Studs Not On Top). This is the main design compromise making the LEGO model slightly taller than the real building. The basic pixel size (2x2x2 studs) can be seen in the picture below.

Color options

What color is this building anyway? Well, looking at the many renderings and models it is clear that the amount of (sun)light, the reflections and the viewing angle have a lot to say. Most of the pixels have a large window on one facade and wooden lamellas on the other. Moreover, the lamellas are open in conjunction with the balconies, which gives a different color tone when seen from afar.

For the wooden structures, the LEGO color Brown is both too dark and too shiny. The color Tan is too light but Dark Tan works well, although it has limited parts available. For the open lamellas at the balconies, I am using a Brown grille brick to make is visually distinct (also, it does not exist in Dark Tan). Once the model is complete, I may change this color to Grey (LBG), Dark Grey (DBG) or Tan depending on what looks best. Finally, the windows will be Tan to contrast with the wooden lamellas.

Pixel concepts

The pixels in the facade (555 of them) come in two main designs: Window and balcony. Since most of the facade pixels are offset from the next row, the construction of the pixel does not have to be strictly cubic. This allows me to use the 1x2x2 Window sideways for the window pixels providing very thin edges around the window. The concept for the balcony pixel with the open wooden lamellas is also shown on the picture below.

When attached to an inner frame, the facade pixels overlap and become cubic as seen in the illustration below.

As the model will have no interior, I use different colored profile bricks to replicate vertical and horizontal blinds behind the windows. This also adds some variation to the facades of the building.

Ready to go

The construction of the LEGO model is now underway. The picture below shows the inner skeleton of the building (in white) with the first pixels attached. In the background, an early prototype with different colors for the open wooden lamellas can be seen. This prototype was used for estimation of the number of bricks needed. The detailed building plans are kindly provided by BIG and are used extensively in combination with the available renderings.