Few were surprised to hear in March that the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) had been hired to design a new “experience center” for LEGO. After all, many of BIG’s projects had always looked like they were designed with the modular stacking toy blocks in mind. In some ways, all of BIG’s prolific output had been working toward precisely this commission. (Or not.) “It is one of our great dreams at BIG that we are now able to design a building for and with the LEGO group,” Ingels said in a statement.
Still less surprising, of course, was the design itself. Unveiled this week, BIG’s complex consists of overlapping blocks seemingly constructed out of LEGO bricks. It’s not even a matter of interpretive exegesis–the video (see below) that accompanied the press announcement makes the connection explicit.
The LEGO House, which is expected to begin construction next year in Billund, Denmark, will be 30 meters tall and contain 22,800 square feet of space. Each of the boxes will be configured with a different programmatic space and topped by themed roof gardens. The blocks are stacked in a pyramidal form and symbolically joined at the apex by the Keystone, a massively scaled-up LEGO brick and what will presumably be the largest in the world.
Inside, there will be several different exhibition and play areas, not to mention a very bespoke LEGO store. Both the interiors, which appear very white and sparse in the video, and the type of exhibitions they’ll hold are still “under development,” LEGO spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk tells Co. Design. He does assure us, however, that the latter will be “exciting” with a focus on fun learning activities.
BIG was one of four architecture firms considered for the LEGO House commission. Trangbæk says that Bjarke and co. stood out for their creative use and manipulation of the LEGO brick unit. Their building, he says, “naturally reflects the systematic creativity which is inherent in all Lego products.” See, it’s just like that LEGO Fallingwater set you bought your nephew for Christmas.
Trangbæk does stress several key points. First, the LEGO House is not a museum, he says. (Though that didn’t stop Ingels from boasting to Architect Magazine in March that the structure would be “the best museum ever.”) Nor is the project just about the building or a splashy flagship but rather about the site-specific exhibitions that the company hopes will draw a quarter million visitors every year. “It is the experiences inside in combination with the building that will enable us to expand the perception of the LEGO brand.” The goal of LEGO House, he says, is to change visitors’ perceptions of what LEGO is. “[It’s] more than just a toy,” Trangbæk clarifies, and he’s right. When it opens in 2016, LEGO will be a tourist destination.