At first, I wanted to do a proper, objective and non-biased review. I can’t. I am so excited about this set! So many possibilities! And because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, I will do the review my way.
I spent past few days with architecture studio. And whenever I had a spare hour or two I sat at my table and played with it. I spent a long time sorting everything, and the re-sorting it again and again. No idea why I did it. But that’s how I work, everything needs to have its place. By the way, I am still not satisfied with my sorting system, and the two plastic sorting trays and three cardboard trays are definitely not enough. I had to search through my things, to find as many boxes of different sizes as I could. And I have bricks sorted only to groups (plates/tiles/bricks/slopes etc.).
On the other hand, that is probably the only downside I could find during this review period. I started with reading the book and occasionally stopped to try something that came to my mind or just tried to build examples from the book.
Below you can see the building from the cover of the box. That was one of the first things I made. Just a quick build which outlined one of the possibilities. Massing study. To me, this building looks like a modern villa, sharp and expressive. One can imagine what spaces it contains, who is it for or where should it be located.
Second build included in the book. This exercise encouraged taking inspiration from around you and try to replicate it in a form of a building. Lego team took a bird as an inspiration. And one can really see the birdy nature of this structure. For me, this looks like a restaurant somewhere with beautiful views all around, hence the platforms for enjoying views.
Then, one of the exercises in the book was about the scale. What can one brick represent to us? That is only in the eye of a beholder. One brick can be whole city block, one building or a small detail of a door knob if you have enough bricks. And for this task, I have built one street. At first, one building was made from just two bricks. And there were very little details.
And then I doubled the size. At that scale, one can see more details and the building on the left got two different offsets of the facade. The buildings look very similar as they should. However, one brick now represents half the information contained in the first model.
So I decided to zoom on the building with the grilled facade and made it fifty per cent bigger. At this scale, one can see details of the street, the gaps between grills and penthouse glass facade on the top.
And if I wanted and had enough bricks, I could have made just an apartment or focus on the penthouse on top. We are the masters of the scale here.
One of the possibilities how to represent a building is a section. This can also be done with bricks. Maybe architecture is not about what there is, but what there is not. We occupy the void in space, so voids might be more important than elements surrounding you.
And when I was away, my girlfriend made this playful herd of sheep. She used to build these when she was a little kid. You need five bricks for a sheep. Fair.
And how about to explore the modular design with bricks? The brick itself is an example of module. What if we replicate them several times? Stack them on top of each other? Next to? Module can help with both the design and execution. I made a tower out of nine same modules and then I modified them.
Still same core module. Each of them slightly changed. Structural parts remain, details have changed. Variety in uniformity.
And what about texture? Smooth, rough, bumpy, swirling, soft, sharp. Bricks can do a lot.
Experiment with different textures.
But the question everybody wants an answer to. Can it really be used as a design tool or is it just an overpriced toy? One of my favourite quotes can give us an answer. Every tool is just as clever as is its user. Bricks are not omnipotent, but with the right mindset, they are just as useful as sketching by hand or massing in any 3D software. It can be used as an initial study model just efficiently as foamcore, exploring programming, visualization of ideas or outlet to kickstart your brain into creative mode. I have a sketchbook for ideas, whatever clever pierces my skull, I catch it. And during this playful time with studio, I reached for my sketchbook many times. The ideas were only tangentialy connected to bricks, they were more of a general ideas that might be explored and they were not ntertwined with my models. However, it shows that my brain got into creative mode, and that is damn hard thing to do. Being creative is pretty hard job. New and useful ideas are scarce. Studio can help.
Therefore, architecture enthusiasts, and even architecture companies should get a box. One never knows when it can come handy. It is not for every project and it is up to you to know when to use it and for what. And if you keep an open mind, you might get an interesting answer to your questions from a box of bricks.