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BIG : Lego House

Who, being small, has never dreamed of giving life to his Lego® constructions? The architect Bjarke Ingels, did it! Thanks to the young prodigy of architecture, it is now possible to walk inside a life-size brick assembly, the LegoHouse, in the birthplace of the famous plastic parallelepiped: Billund (Denmark).

Billund ... If this name probably does not mean anything to you, it is however at the center of the Danish industry but also of all our crates of play! Indeed, how many generations have not been lulled to the gentle touch of Lego® elements? How many architects did they not see their vocation thus born? How many parents did they not hate their offspring after walking on one of those distracted pieces left on the floor?
For the better and for the worse, we owe it to Ole Kirk Christiansen, carpenter and founder of the toy company (not yet called Lego) in 1934 who, after developing ducks, yoyos and other recreational items in wood, imagine, in 1955, the eponymous assembly system resulting from the contraction of "LEg" and "GOdt", which means both "plays well" in Danish and "I assemble" in Latin. A master trick for the entrepreneur who, thanks to this simplistic and revolutionary invention, has placed his brick in the building of the global toy market and more broadly to that of our childhood.

Opened to the public for two weeks, the LegoHouse is described by Bjarke Ingels, child of the country, as "A literal manifestation of the endless possibilities of the Lego brick". "Literal" is saying little ... The 12 000 square meters of the building are indeed distributed pyramidally, in 21 rectangular blocks whose volumetry is based on that of the plastic module. A declination that is found in 3D, so, but also 2D through the cladding ubiquitous white ceramic tiles clipped on metal uprights, arranged inside and outside. If construction reinterprets the game that made the success of the firm, its design is nothing childish. Indeed, to maintain between them the 21 geometric masses, without using columns in central part, the main contractor uses the technique of the vault, with large reinforcements of 900 tons of steel. From 2 000's large hall with square meters where the stacking of parallelepipeds is clearly claimed, there is no load-bearing element that disturbs the view and circulation of visitors 250 000 expected each year by the institution. "This assembly is possible in Lego, but less in reality", book, a bit amused, Trine Nissen, in charge of press relations of the brand - even if this structural blunder has delayed the construction of a year.

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Based in Billund, which could be described as Lego City® - where the organization even set up an airport and an amusement park - the play equipment had to be partly open to everyone, but also to their purses ... with three restaurants and a shop. As a result, eight of the twelve rooftop terraces are public and accessible without a ticket - two of which are terraced - thanks to circulations that spiral together. These lookouts can be accessed from the landscaped forecourt surrounding the building or through the large lobby on the ground floor where an elevator leads to the top of the Lego® Temple: the platform for the Masterpiece gallery, culminating point, structural keystone and starting point of an immersive experience in the world of small brick.

Access to this room is indeed an initiatory path, which begins on the ground floor in the center of the forum (after releasing 199 crowns, a little less than 27 euros), with a monumental suspended staircase, s 'wrapping around a Lego tree that required 6,3 million pieces, 24 350 working hours and 3 years of mounting by small hands. Once at the top, in this space whose glazed oculi are inspired by the eight round excrescences of the famous pavement, visitors discover the most crazy creations of Lego® fans, nicknamed AFOLs - including Adult Fan Of Lego®. It then helically serves four areas below, nicknamed "zones of experience", whose color refers to the historical shades of the toy and corresponds to a human quality to stimulate: red for creativity, blue for cognitive skills, green for the development of social bonds, and yellow for emotion. In these open spaces lit by zenithal skylights, young and old can among other things create their own cities, invent characters, develop a stop-motion film, confront their cars, in a decor punctuated with furniture elements. Corian®, composite resin resistant to time but especially to children!

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"All activities are linked to our philosophy that creative play promotes innovation. The LegoHouse will allow us to offer adults and young guests the opportunity to stimulate creativity and learning. Jesper Vilstrup, General Manager LegoHouse

And for the most curious, an exhibition space in the basement retraces the history of society and its various inventions. Finally, the famous assembly system would not deserve its place in the Hall of Design, alongside the creations of Kaare Klinte, Hans Wegner, Poul Henningsen, or Arne Jacobsen?

A building that will delight all generations by the quality of its spaces and the multitude of activities it offers, but whose compositional literality is only matched by the omnipresence of marketing. When it exceeds the pleasure of playing, it is a part of our childhood memories that fly away with.

To learn more, visit The site of BIG et from the LegoHouse

Photographs: Iwan Baan (excluding aerial photography © Kim Christensen)

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