BILLUND, DENMARK – A secret to Lego’s success is the accuracy of production, that’s what gives the bricks their so-called ‘clutch’ power via the hollow tubes inside, where they can be clicked together to form gravity-defying steps and structures rather than merely stacking one by one on top. The architecture of each piece is simple, relates to a designed system of proportions, and from box to box the colours match and the craftsmanship and quality are amazingly consistent. Architect Bjarke Ingles of BIG aimed to translate these qualities to full scale building: the logic and language of the 2x4 Lego brick are key to the design of the new Lego House headquarters in the toy’s birthplace of Billund, Denmark. Details, proportion, quality and scale always matter in any architectural design project, but in this case, given the iconic status of the brand in Denmark and internationally there was additional scrutiny. Each visitor to the Lego House finds out that there are 915,103,765 unique arrangements of six of the same colour of 2x4 Lego bricks, and so in this project visitors find out: which combination did Ingles choose?
The architect explains using the language and logic of the toy: ‘It might seem effortless, like a pile of interlocking bricks, but it is systematic. There are eight bricks on the ground that frame the central square and these have open corners for entries, then eight bricks above organized 3 x 3 with a central one missing, then four more with a single one in the middle.’ On my visit to the building I already know, because I got the Lego House kit from the Lego Architecture series (in special edition, all white) and have built it myself.
‘The genius of Lego is that it isn’t a toy – it’s more like a tool’
Throughout the project, Ingles was careful to keep the Lego brick proportions. ‘Just like in nature, the Fibonacci sequence or golden ratio, in the built environment the 2x4 proportion of Lego is golden. We used this everywhere, we scaled up the height to about 18 cm then the length becomes 60 cm long and it is a good useful proportion for cabinetry and building materials. In the entire façade – inside and outside – we never cut a façade module, it is either 30 or 60 cm. We never broke the rules,’ Ingles explains. ‘That’s how you get into masonry heaven.’