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To Europe, with LEGO Love

Friday, August 1, 2014

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The architectural geniuses of Europe have gifted mankind with the world's greatest glass, stone and marble masterpieces, but there is one medium they have missed: LEGO bricks.

Now, an Italian architectural firm, a classical music venue, and the Danish toy maker are moving to fill that gap.

The LEGO Architecture Studio, which was unveiled last year in the United States, launches today (Aug. 1) in Europe.

Villa Pennisi - shell

Using the LEGO Architecture Studio set that rolls out today in Europe, Italian architecture students will compete to design a new acoustical shell for outdoor chamber music performances at a villa in Rome.

And a tony welcome indeed is in store from CMMKM Architects of Naples and the Villa Pennisi in Musica workshop.

Royal Venue

The firm and venue are co-sponsoring a summer workshop that will challenge students to create 3D thematic models for an acoustic shell for the villa's chamber music concerts to be held this month.

With a spectacular park, winery, seaside balconies and lavish residence fit for royal guests, the Villa Pennisi has had several lives since it was built in 1880 as the Grand Hotel de Bains.

Villa Pennisi
Villa Pennisi

CMMKM Architects, an Italian firm, will work with students at the architectural workshop at the Villa Pennisi.

Today, among other functions, it hosts a summer program that includes the musical and architectural design workshops and chamber performances.

Shell Game

The workshop is also used for acoustic testing/setting of the villa's Resonant String Shell, a temporary wooden pavillon for the music and the outdoor entertainment. The shell will be self-built, furnished and lighted—based, this year, on a design using the LEGO Architecture Studio.


Four Frank Lloyd Wright works, including Fallingwater, are among the seven original designs in the LEGO Architecture Studio.

Students will be led by architects, lighting designers and acoustic engineers in the project. CMMKM Architects will walk students through the design process and basic principles of architecture using LEGO forms.

The architects have been working with sample sets to prepare for the course.

No Kid Stuff

Why the lofty reception for a toy?

The fact is, LEGO has long since carved itself a niche among architecture, engineering and design professionals. The year-old Architecture Studio set, which rolled out Aug. 1, 2013, in the United States, is a successor to LEGO's venerable-but-dated Scale Model building sets, which was launced in 1962.

Sydney Opera House

LEGO struck gold in the architectural world several years ago, with sets that included Rome's Trevi Fountain (top). The Sydney Opera House is in the Architectural Studio set.

The Architecture Studio set includes more than 1,200 monochromatic white and translucent LEGO bricks, plus designs for building models of seven iconic structures.

  • Tokoy's Imperial Hotel (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright);
  • The Villa Savoye, of Poissy, France (designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret;
  • The Sydney Opera House, by Jørn Utzony;
  • Wright's Robie House, in  Chicago;
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, in Plano, IL;
  • Wright's Fallingwater, in Pennsylvania; and
  • Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York City

A 272-page guidebook also offers "tips, techniques, features, and intuitive hands-on exercises endosed by leading design houses," according to LEGO.

About LEGO

LEGO was founded in 1932. The name comes from an abbreviation of the Danish words "leg godt," meaning "play well." the brick in its current form was introduced in 1958.

LEGO has twice been named the Toy of the Century.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Construction; Design

Comment from john lienert, (8/1/2014, 9:49 AM)

i think i heard frank lloyd wright turning over

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