25 Jun 2009
GM+AD has won the Prospect LEGO challenge, where top Scottish practices were invited to design and build a villa using the iconic bricks. The decision, announced at the Scottish Design Awards, was the result of a Prospect readers poll. Here and overleaf, all the teams who took part explain the thinking behind their creations. Their models, which were featured on BBC news, are now being auctioned off in aid of the National Autistic Society.
Photographs by Mark Seager.
There are so many play themes that revolve around different lego stories, fire stations, skyscrapers, spaceships, pirate ships and even castles inhabited by little yellow men, that we thought we might propose a new story or play theme. A theme that would takes us back to a time when we created lego worlds from all the different pieces of all the various scenes, themes and stories.
As children who created with lego, all we needed was our imagination and a desire to represent our abstracted version of reality through these simple building blocks. Years of fun filled hours passed trying and testing various themes with the same tub of lego bricks.
In taking on this challenge, we thought we might propose an opportunity, a chance for someone to take that mental journey in time to revisit those special lego places and spaces.
So we posed the question:
ÒIf Abstract art explores different ways in which to represent the purity of the human mind, how can we embody this in built form?Ó
The appeal of the relationship between art and lego lies in the simplicity of presenting an abstracted narrative by combining these binding bricks in a thought provoking and visually appealing way. Therefore, selecting an iconic composition by Piet Mondrian seemed like a logical choice. This way the pure expression of concept, order and colour would recall the approach and the simplicity of creating lego spaces as a child.
Forms revealed by lines, enclosing and producing relationships between spaces of different scale, proportion and colour create spaces that appear open and closed, continuous and defined, outside and inside. The intention is hinted at but left to individual experience and interpretation.
It is our intention to further emphasise these relationships by purposefully selecting the flat plate lego module. This simultaneously fragments the composition into smaller component parts while suggesting an opportunity to re present the overall as the individual's desires, through creative imagination and child like simplicity.
ÔÉAND, AFTER ALL, IT'S A PRETTY COOL SCULPTURAL OBJECT!'
Isabel Garriga, Carlo Guidi & Fred Wilson, gm+ad
Gareth Hoskins Architects
LEGOLAND is a utopia where the sun always shines and life is easy. Our villa attempted to distill this freedom into a finely crafted response to an idealised setting Ð located on the edge of a cliff overlooking a deep blue ocean with its own private beach, surrounded by lush green fields.
The building consists of a simple pavilion separated into public and private areas by a grand intersecting entry that frames views of the sea. The public areas are open and light, blurring the boundaries between inside and out while the private spaces are clad in a delicate screen to create a more intimately scaled space for retreat. We have attempted to use the standardised repeating elements in novel ways to reflect architectural assemblies and to highlight the strongest aspect of LEGO play Ð the facility for reinvention
Tim Harland, Gareth Hoskins Architects
The submarine Lego tower is an imaginary Ôpunk' structure that exists in New York, London, Beijing and the East End of Glasgow. The tower internally is labyrinthine and unspecific to its accommodation.
The architecture changes slightly to accommodate different contexts but only so that it might fit the local site constraints, the building wants to be introvert and would rather be more background than foreground despite its vertical scale. In the big cities the building is dwarfed and can hide in gaps but in the East End of Glasgow it appears like a super scale corrugated metal pigeon loft.
The building is a home for RMJM's nomadic architects, a point to plug into and decompress. It is also a venue for entertaining and showing new international project work and challenging art maybe?
Paul Stallan, European Design Director, RMJM
Michael Gilmour Associates
ÒMy ambition was to create a villa that could be enjoyed and appreciated by Lego fans of all ages, not just by other architects. The central kitchen core (reminiscent of Farnsworth House), green roofs, solar shading, glass block walls, were all meant to tickle the fancy of the architectural playmate. Whilst the playful additions like the Skeleton, briefcase, flatscreen TV, gemstone and the policeman all add to the blatant childish fun that makes Lego more than just building blocks. The removable roofs allow full interaction with all elements of the Villa, from the office to the oven, or bathroom to bedroom.Ó
This description does however belie a catastrophic event in the model's shipment, couriered down from Aberdeen the home was unfortunately no match for the British postal service. The resulting pile of plastic rubble thus presents a perfect DIY home for the budding LEGO practitioner.
Richard Slater, Michael Gilmour Associates
Our process starts with the infinite possibilities that LEGO's range and modularity present. We have sought to control that by imposing a set of rules that develop a design that is fully rooted in the mathematical modular simplicity that the material presents and which develops from that a structural and spatial complexity.
Rule 1 was to limit the number of different block types used. We use only two different sizes. Lego is at its most powerful when simple, abstract elements are used in the creative process.
Rule 2 was to establish a mathematical system which controls the sizing of elements. We built a pattern using Fibonacci numbers to provide a governing framework.
Rule 3 was to think modular. Lego is a repetitive material and we used our block systems to create larger modules which were then linked together to create a faade system. These form an inhabitable wall fully integrating system, structure and space
This rules driven strategy was then combined with a flexible approach to dealing with special conditions. Further complexity is introduced where the infinite pattern is terminated, at corner junctions and ends. Where the systems collide opportunities exist for spatial events and for randomness and chaos.
Stuart Graham, Aedas