LEGO Architecture: 12 Sets Explore Buildings Brick by Brick

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LEGO Architecture Main

Whether official or fan-created, LEGO architecture sets enable wannabe builders to understand just how some of the world’s most iconic structures come together in terms of architectural elements, form and lines. The brand has created an architecture series exploring “the fascinating worlds of architecture, engineering and construction,” and LEGO enthusiasts – including architects – have come up with a few of their own.

Monochromatic Architecture Studio Set

LEGO Architecture Monochromatic 1

LEGO Architecture monochromatic 3

LEGO Architecture Monochromatic 2

Luring in architects with its monochromatic color scheme that enables the focus to be on form and shape, the LEGO Architecture Studio set is an all-white series containing over 1,200 pieces. An accompanying 268-page book includes the work of famous architecture firms like Sou Fujimoto, MAD Architects and Safdie Architects and covers principles like modules and repetition, creating surfaces, working in context and symmetry. Not only can it strengthen design skills in an average person, it can actually be used by working architects to create 3D models.

Limited Edition Marina Bay Sands Hotel

LEGO Architecture Marina Bay Sands

Rumored to be set for release only in Asia, the limited edition Marina Bay Sands Hotel set recreates Singapore’s striking cantilevered resort. It’s unclear exactly when this set, which was teased in the back of a LEGO instruction booklet, might be available to the public. Marina Bay Sands is the world’s most expensive building and contains a hotel, convention and exhibition facilities, theaters, restaurants and a 150-meter infinity pool on the roof (which is replicated with translucent blue bricks in this set.)

LEGO Towers by Bjarke Ingels Group

LEGO Architecture Bjarke Ingels 1

LEGO Architecture Bjarke Ingels 2

An architecture concept that was inspired by LEGOs is fittingly rendered in the little plastic bricks with this model from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG.) The model uses conventional LEGO bricks to show off the design for LEGO Towers, a proposal for a residential, retail and hotel development in Copenhagen. It’s at 1:50 scale, uses 250,000 bricks and took five weeks to build.

Fallingwater

LEGO Architecture Fallingwater LEGO Architecture Fallingwater 2

Perhaps the most well-known private residence in America created by an iconic architect, Fallingwater seems like it was made to be recreated in LEGOs, with its blocky stacked silhouette. Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous design was completed in 1937 and is considered a feat of engineering, its cantilevered floors jutting out over a waterfall.

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Cargo Home Videos: 10 Films on How to Build Container Houses

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cargo shipping container home

You see them all the time as polished finished products, but for those looking to try the ultimate do-it-yourself home-building project, these videos will help show you how various ISO container houses were really built in different environments and at various budgets and scales. From timelapses and diagrams to interviews and walkthroughs, they will help introduce you to what someone attempting a similar endeavor could or should expect along the way.

cargotecture home finished design

In this HGTV segment, you can get an overall sense of how the Seattle architects of Cargotecture shifted two containers to create a livable container retreat of their own. The result is as much an experiment and demonstration model as a working residence, and a good introduction to what is possible and what can be problematic.

modulus shipping container home

In this timelapse footage and subsequent tour, you can see a whole multistory house, designed by David Fenster (filmed by FairCompanies) for the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, coming together in a single day. The structure celebrates the industrial aesthetic of its containerized components, but also reflects the difficult reality of moving building materials out to such a remote location.

cargo home exterior build

shipping container home build

Part of the building is cantilevered over one side, supported by a hollow concrete column below (that in turn also contains an outdoor shower). The layout uses the space between shipping containers to let in light and widen spaces beyond containers while also framing views. The steel shells also make the building more robust, resistant to natural disasters like falling trees and forest fires.

The Kuziel Residence consists of a series of shipping containers set around a central space on concrete foundations, taking a half-year in total to build – the video above shows photos throughout the process. On the builder’s website, you can “read about the idea, all required prep-work, creation of the foundation, six months long endeavour of making of a chassis, build of the timber roof structure and pouring of lots of concrete for floor slab, work on the house exterior and interior and [all the other] things happening along the way.”

Perhaps one of the most audacious shipping container structures ever attempted, this dream ‘Sea Can’ home of Bill Glennon will have 31 total containers when it is completed, using solar for heat and electricity and boasting a windmill as well. Amazingly, some containers are turned vertically, creating turret-style protrusions making the whole thing look like a modern-day castle in its early stages. In the first film, Bill introduces the project. In the second, he gives a brief tour of the interior and explains some of the passive and other sustainable strategies going into the design. In the third, you can see how massive the almost-finished project turns out to be.

Meanwhile, a series of videos from ContainerHomes.net shows the step-by-step process of constructing a small-sized, single-shipping-container abode DIY-style in Costa Rica, highlighting the actual tools and time required for such an undertaking. After all, a container is made of metal and can require a great deal of additional work, particularly when it comes to adding doors and windows, even if it is in a location that does not require a foundation or insulation. Unlike some of the other video series shown here, this is a start-to-finish look at a low-budget cargo home solution, including a walk-through of the modest final product.

Not sure where to look next for inspiration on what or how to build your own cargo container home? Here are 30 additional cargo container homes, 30 container offices, 20 cargo city and container shelter concepts, and some additional cargotecture. Whatever you do, keep in mind that building codes vary between cities, states and countries, and climactic demands also impact what degree of finish your shelter may require.


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Gruel Britannia: 10 Abandoned Little Chef Restaurants

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1a
Serving up American style with British flavor, hundreds of Little Chef roadside restaurants once warmed up the UK‘s motorways but less than 80 remain today.

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1c

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1d

“Once a familiar site by the roadside for greasy grub and indifferent service!,” according to Flickr user mad jeff, Little Chef was to the British Isles what Howard Johnson’s was to the USA – less the hotel rooms, swimming pools and fried clams. Founded in 1958 by Sam Alper, an entrepreneur admittedly influenced by America’s diners in the golden age of postwar road travel, Little Chef ballooned to 439 locations by the turn of the century… and you know what happens to balloons. The store above, located off the A1 motorway near Wansford, was one of the first Little Chef locations and stands (barely) today as a symbol of the once-robust chain’s astonishing slide into dereliction.

Kent Found On Roadside Dead

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1c

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1d

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1e

According to the brazenly optimistic Little Chef website, “we’ve grown to become one of the UK’s favourite roadside restaurants with 78 Little Chef restaurants from Scotland down to Cornwall.” 78 and counting… downward. Most pundits blame Little Chef’s inexorable death spiral on inconsistent ownership looking only to squeeze a few more pounds sterling out of the business before flipping it; a scenario that’s played out a jaw-dropping SEVEN times since the mid-1970s. The dreary images of an abandoned Little Chef located just off the A14 in Kentford, eastern England, come to us courtesy of Nosher.net who states, “discarded cassette tapes litter the area”. Nice.

Bypassed

abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1c

Here’s a rather rough-looking abandoned Little Chef situated by the A46 Coventry by-pass near Binley Woods in Warwickshire. This store was one of a group of restaurants closed following the sale of the Little Chef chain to RCapital, a UK private equity group, in January of 2007. Kudos to Geograph member David Lally for documenting the state of the store in July of 2007 – one can only imagine what it looks like now assuming it hasn’t been bulldozed.

Sufferin’ In Suffolk

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1c

These evocative images of an abandoned Little Chef somewhere in Suffolk, eastern England were taken by Flickr user will2988 in May and June of 2013. Though originally modeled after classic diners and burger stands over the pond, Little Chef made efforts to appeal to the unique taste of domestic travelers with all-day breakfasts and traditional British fare such as bangers & beans with chips (fried potatoes) and even Ox Cheeks. Sorry, no Spam Eggs Sausage & Spam.

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Time in Color: Skatepark Graffiti Acts as a Working Sundial

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Skatepark Graffiti 1

Skaters at this park in Lugano, Switzerland don’t have to pull out their phones to check the time – they can just glance down at a series of colored lines painted right onto the concrete of the bowl as a modern sundial. A ribbon of rainbow hues curves up and down the undulating surface, the sun and shadows revealing the current hour.

Skatepark Graffiti 2

Skatepark Graffiti 3

A different line of color indicates each hour of the day, marked off as the sun passes overhead. Designed by Moscow group Zuk Club, the vibrant park is like an abstract modern mural customized specifically to the shape of the bowl and the surrounding area.

SKatepark Graffiti 4 Skatepark Graffiti 5

It’s an interesting and visually resting concept, though perhaps no match for the largest and most complex skate parks around the world. Skaters who find ordinary skate parks unimaginative should check out 13 examples of highly skateable architecture, ranging from the specially renovated interior of a hunting lodge to Zaha Hadid’s futuristic science center in Germany.


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Hyperphotos: Architectural Hybrids Remix Built Environments

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hyperphoto endless staircase image

There is something almost mystical (or mythical) about these photographic collages, at once apparently realistic in content and seemingly impossible in composition.

hyperphoto urban city montage

hyperphoto babylon

The Hyperphotos portfolio of Jean-Francois Rauzier, a French artist and photographer, represents years of captured images overlaid to create incredibly detailed composites. “In his monumental works he mixes the infinitely big and the infinitesimal, in a profusion of details so unusual as fascinating. The image thus recomposed numerically gives way to the dreamlike world of the artist.”

hyperphoto reflected mythical interior

Some seem to reflect the nature of their places of origin, from New York City and Paris to Istanbul and Barcelona, or the time period from which the architecture originates, from ancient cathedrals to modern brownstones.

hyperphoto stacked bridges

hyperphoto infinite future city

Others are works of almost pure fantasy, casting the viewer into imaginary futures or impossible pasts. While people, plants and animals are sometimes included, the focus of his fascination is almost always a built environment.

hyperphoto inside religious structure

About the artist: “Fascinated by photography from an early age, Jean-François Rauzier graduated from the School Louis Lumière in 1976. He has since been working as a professional photographer, while developing a personal creative work. In 2002, his artistic work takes an innovative and radical turn.” Now “he creates virtual images consisting of several hundreds of shots, taken with a telephoto lens and assembled by computer.”


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Truck-A-Tecture: 2 Convertible Nomadic Dwellings on Wheels

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truckatecture scissor lifted shelter

With participating design studios from around America, this exhibition features a series of amazing mobile spaces that use technology and ingenuity to explore new possibilities for the modern nomad. Two of the four projects in particular are worth a closer look, whether or not you are able to visit and see them on display in Omaha, Nebraska this month (images by Tom Kessler via Kaneko).

truckatecture truck based architecture

The Office of Mobile Design contributed the Aero-Mobile to the Truck-A-Tecture collection, using a scissor lift system to raise up and deploy a pod that then extends over the cab of the vehicle.

trucktecture

truckatecture top fabric steel

Fold-down walls expand usable space while the elevated platform allows for a smaller footprint and thus more versatile parking options (not to mention some safety in areas with aggressive or curious wildlife).

truckatecture modular furniture shelter

truckatecture interior structure view

The Pneumad by Min|Day is an inflatable structure that takes up relatively little space but spreads out to create a geodesic shelter with modular furniture.

trucktectwo

truckatecture inflatable dome home

The idea is, in part, to reduce the spatial and energy requirements of a portable shelter, making it possible for smaller vehicles to tow a part-time dwelling.

truckatecture other mobile shelters

truck a tecture gallery

On display through for two more weeks, the exhibition was organized “to explore the potentials of mobile living and adaptable architecture [and] generate conversation on current-day trends toward nomadic lifestyles. [It] offers new perspectives on transformable spaces. the projects utilize various mechanical techniques to provide the itinerant individual, traveling by vehicle, the ability to spread out when temporarily stopped.”

“A mash-up of popular and elite cultures, Truck-A-Tecture will transcend the current definitions of ‘pre-fab’ and ‘mobile architecture.’ Topics of nomadism, transportation, trucking culture and the nature of ‘home’ are among the topics to be explored in this exhibition. Other issues to be considered in this dialogue are sustainability and technological advances that have led many to a leaner, more efficient lifestyle.”


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Architectural Apocalypse: Famous Museums Seen After the Fall

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

guggenheim half buried sand

Like that iconic scene in the original Planet of the Apes film, these artists have displaced great works of architecture in time and space to see what each museum might look like after the end of days, relocated in ominous environments and recast in black and white.

guggenheim museum after fall

Ukrainian photographers Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva use surrealistic landscapes as the backdrop for these imaginative transformations, picturing structures like the Guggenheim in a sand-strewn context that looks like anything but modern-day Manhattan as we know it.

new museum in water

new museum at night

The New Museum is seen rising up from post-armageddon floodwaters, presumably after rising sees wash away the rest of New York City.

Niteroi Museum snow dunes

snow filled museum fall

The Niteroi Museum is perched precariously on a mound of snow, everything else perhaps buried in the frozen wastes around it.

pompidou center picture fall

pompidou center storm front

The Pompidou Center is set in a swirling dust storm, Paris long vanished and its inside-out appearance making it look all the more like a remnant than a finished structure.

guggenheim post apocalypse photo

guggenheim half buried sands

When the dust settles, the smoke clears and the world freezes over, what if only our artistic institutions were left? From the creators of the series: “It is difficult to escape the feeling that ‘Apocalypse in Art’ really shows the world, standing on the edge, barren, falling in decay like a story line of a picture that is breaking into fragments.”


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Endless City: Skyscraper Wraps Upward with Walkable Ramps

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

endless city vertical view

An urban pedestrian paradise, this conceptual design proposes to turn cities skyward with a system of flexible open spaces that gradually rise as floor plates curve up around its core.

endless city interior atrium

This winning  entry to the SkyScrapers & SuperSkyscraper Competition by SURE Architecture, dubbed Endless City, is more than just visually compelling – it also creates an argument about urban pathways and civic connectivity.

endless city floor plates

endless city top level

Its design boasts a series of sustainable strategies deployed throughout the structure, including passive energy, heating, cooling and lighting systems as well as advanced waste and water management.

skycraper - diagramme- structure OK

The structure is framed around a series of vertical steel-tress columns that in turn support a pair of ramps connected periodically by bridges.

endless city ramped section

The program features a mix of commercial, residential and institutional functions, with larger community areas mixed periodically throughout.

SERVERwork 22013-033 Skycraper-London CompetitionCADLondon

endless city top down

The core concept, though, is to commingle these programmatic elements with circulation, allowing visitors and occupants to mix on its various levels and traverse the structure vertically – skyways taken to a new extreme. Its modular construction also theoretically enables further additions, allowing it to grow upward with time.


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Inverted Zoo: Enclosure-Free Design Puts Animals in the Open

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

open air zoo reversed

Aiming to change the nature of zoo experiences for species on both sides of the glass, Zootopia radically reverses traditional layouts and changes conventional expectations. It almost looks as if the humans were on the display while the animals are given the most space possible to roam.

open zoo path concept

Being created in conjunction with the Givskud Zoo and Safari Park in Denmark, this architectural design by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)  is in part a response to some long-standing criticisms of zoos, attacked for putting animals into barred, walled and windowed boxes.

big zoo sky bubbles

big zoo interactive concept

Instead, this architecture is meant to disappear, with barriers becoming effectively invisible and the experience more seamless for humans and animals alike. Rolling hills and strategic rocks replace over dividers, creating an environment that looks, feels and ultimately is more natural.

big zoo master plans

Additionally, habitats are being designed around the spatial needs and social desires of individual species, granting them the freedom as well as privacy required for each animal type to both survive and thrive.

big zoo habitat examples copy

For visitors, a central entrance gives a wide view in all directions to section spinning out from the middle and representing various climates and regions. Travel through the zoo will happen on foot but also by bike, boat and sky car.

big zoo physical model

big zoo central circle

The idea itself is not entirely novel – there are many drive-through zoos and wildlife refuges that attempt to simulate more organic conditions and break down barriers between humans and the animals they are visiting. Still, for a large-scale zoo, this approach is rare is not unprecedented in its aims and scope.


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The Peeling Project: Thinking Outside The Big Box Store

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[ By Steve in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

BEST Products The Peeling Project 1a
What happened when an edgy architecture firm met an open-minded chain of big box retail stores? The very appealing Peeling Project, that’s what.

BEST Products The Peeling Project 1

We’ll leave it for others to document the startling and unlikely history of The Peeling Project in detail; our task at hand here is to display, in chronological order, the unique and individual extreme makeovers given to nine Best Products catalog showroom stores between 1971 and 1984. We’ll also show, if possible, the fate of these bold experiments in retail architecture following Best Products’ demise in 1998. We’ll begin where it all began: the Best Products store at 5400 Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond, VA.

BEST Products The Peeling Project 1c

BEST Products The Peeling Project 1d

Designed (as were all of the Project’s, er, projects) by architecture firm SITE Inc. (“Sculpture In The Environment”), the initial installation featuring a front facade that appears to be peeling away from the building ended up giving its name to the entire series of nine works. Built with safety in mind, the surrealistically embellished front facade was constructed with care and at obvious expense. Even so, that didn’t prevent new owners the Daily Pawn Shop from reverting the building to its original boring boxy look shortly after acquiring it.

Indeterminate Façade

BEST Products Indeterminate Facade 2a

BEST Products Indeterminate Facade 2b

Built in 1974-75, Indeterminate Façade was the second of SITE’s collaborations with Best Products and over time has emerged as the most famous. Located at 10765 Kingspoint Road in Houston, TX, the store started out as a standard large building but SITE artists then extended the outside walls unevenly to evoke a “distressed” appearance – the highlight of which was a waterfall of brick and masonry spilling onto the front awning.

BEST Products Indeterminate Facade 2c

BEST Products Indeterminate Facade 2d

Perhaps due to its notoriety, Indeterminate Façade remained unchanged through at least one change of ownership after Best Products declared bankruptcy for the final time. Sometime in 2003, however, the artistic extensions suddenly and mysteriously vanished. Some say the building’s owner heard rumors the City of Houston was about to declare the structure to be of historical significance and feared losing the freedom to alter the building at will in the future.

The Notch Project

BEST Products Notch Project 1a

BEST Products Notch Project 1b

BEST Products Notch Project 1c

When a Best Products store at 1901 Arden Way in Sacramento, CA known as The Notch Project opened in 1977, balloons poured out of the gaping “notch” that appeared when the building’s 14ft high, 45-ton front corner wedge slid aside to reveal the main entrance. Each morning thereafter, the corner piece would slide aside and each day at closing time it would slide back into position – sans balloons, mind you.

BEST Products Notch Project 1d

After Best Products sold off its bricks & mortar assets, the former Notch Project building was bought by Best Buy – an infamously non-innovative corporation who’s directors dictated all its stores must conform to the corporate look. We’re sure you’ll agree that when it came to imaginative branding, Best Products bested Best Buy by far.

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