As part of the recent LEGO Fan Media Days, the Rambling Brick had the opportunity to preview the LEGO House. Located in Billund, opposite the old Kristiansen family home and on the site of the former town hall, the LEGO House will be a place to have a LEGO Experience unlike any other.
The building is complete, and those working inside, or visiting the building are no longer required to wear a hard hat. There is still a little way to before the house will be ready for the public however…
I had intended to look at set 4000010: The LEGO House, a promotional set available around Billund at present. However, my luggage has decided to take a slightly more circuitous route than even myself to get back home!
I shall delay that review for early in the week, so long as the Luggage arrives intact…
In the meantime, read on to see what we discovered about the inspiration for that set, the actual LEGO House.
On the first of our Fan Media Days, we were in one of the meeting rooms in the LEGO House, and Jesper Vilstrup and Stuart Poole came to talk us through the vision for the facility. Jesper is the General Manager of the LEGO House – he has been with the group for over fifteen years, working in marketing and product development over this time: he has always been in roles close to consumers, and is responsible for all aspects of the LEGO House. Stuart Harris is the Senior Experience Manager at the LEGO House: this is his second tour of duty with LEGO: He has worked as a model builder at LEGOLANDs both Windor and California in the 90s, and has returned in this current role. He has great knowledge of what can be achieved with the LEGO® brick when you push it to the limit!
They spoke with us about the vision for the LEGO House – driven particularly by the Kristiansen family – having the LEGO philosophy of learning through play as its cornerstone. There will be something for every LEGO fan, young or old to be found here.
There was also discussion of the fan footprint in the house – from suggestions for AFOLs to contribute to the Masterpiece gallery sought from the LEGO Ambassadors Network, aspects of the iconic sculptures, the names of the cafe and restaurants,
The LEGO House is due to open at the end of September 2017, a little later than initially envisaged. Part of the cause of the delay has been a need to reengineer the atrium – forming a ‘town square, the architect’s vision of a space with no pillars required a little more engineering. This re-engineering took 12 months and around 1900 tonnes of steel. That is about one quarter of the steel used in the Eiffel tower!
The open space is impressive: entering the space, there are some models of the completed house, as well as some palettes, packing boxes waiting to be unloaded and models waiting to be installed.
The Basement and Time For Nostalgia
Before we head for the Staircase, winding its way up around the tree, let us head to the basement:This is the vault of the building, where a time line of LEGO, ancient and modern is on display.
But before we leave the foyer with the lifts in, there is a window into the floor: buried underneath the building are a couple of retired injection moulds for LEGO Bricks. The protective plastic wrap is still covering the reinforced glass in the floor, so it is all a bit blurry – but there is also a LEGO mole digging its way out of the ground. FUN FACT:in the past, when LEGO Injection holds were decommissioned, they were y buried in the foundations of a new LEGO Factory. Some have been recovered after demolishing factories and preserved for the archives. These days, however, they are more definitively dealt with.
Moving round, we find examples of wooden toys from the early days of the company. and then some plastic vehicles, and then early examples of toys from the LEGO System of play: bricks, trees, small cars and smaller people. Walking around the corridor, you can see examples of sets from every decade: from the old basic sets through the development of the Minifigure, classic themes, and Technic through to Mindstorms and the forthcoming Boost robotics system. By the end of it, I was starting to feel all fuzzy with nostalgia.
A wooden duck…
Back in the day…
Old town plan
My personal introduction to gears and gearing ratios was through this set.
Printed parts for the win.
I’ve reviewed 875 a few weeks ago
2016-17 Fun in the park mini figures, and the LEGO Group reaches 100% use of renewable energy in Denmark.
The Tree of Creativity, Bringer of Joy
After our exploration of the History Zone, we were taken to the central staircase, winding its way up around around the Tree of Creativity. Constructed of over six millions elements, and over fifteen meters tall, this is one of the iconic models that the team had set out to create for the LEGO House. Ideas were sought from the broader community as to the nature of this sculpture, and the tree was the one that most appealed to the Kristensen family.
Meticulously sculpted to resemble an actual tree, details are ‘carved’ into the trunk: names of family members, the duck and fire engine that were part of the company’s traditional wooden toy range, in the days before injection moulding. Looking up, you see the leaves, spreading out, and filtering the light as it shone through.
At this point of the day, I was starting to feel that emotional drain brought on by jet lag, fatigue and missing some significant events back home.
Then I climbed the staircase, pausing to see the looks on the faces of those that were ahead of me. All I could see were the leaves and branches. Then my spirits lifted. A complete surprise. Well, it was at the time. If I had done all of the pre reading about the LEGO House I think I would have been aware of what was in store. But I had not, so I wasn’t. On top of the branches were small layouts, arranged in themes. Mini figures and monkeys working together: I can only presume that the monkey’s live in the tree and also play with the LEGO Bricks. They took someone who was feeling a bit tired and emotional and made him happy, and filled with joy.
The Masterpiece Gallery
The Masterpiece gallery is currently conspicuously empty of models, not the least of which will be the three massive dinosaurs which we discussed in a previous post. The skylights allowed natural light to stream in, and at night will allow columns of light shining up to welcome visitors arriving by plane. However, looking out from this area, we could see the brick built waterfall that will occupy the Red zone and down into the Green Zone, featuring the World Explorer area.
We visited the World Explorer area, part of the Green Zone where the designers were invited to imagine what a builder with infinite bricks and unlimited time could achieve. The quality of the models in this area is amazing: Land, sea, mountains, jungle, city – this minifigure scaled area contains models of exceptional detail. You could lose yourself in here for a day, and still see new aspects of the build. At this stage the models were still accessible, but when the LEGO House opens on 29th September 2017 they will be protected by a perspex screen. Half an hour was not long enough to marvel at this area.
After the World Explorer section, we went outside to climb up to the top of the masterpiece gallery, and test the skylights for structural integrity. Suffice to say they tolerated many representatives of the world’s LEGO Fan Media jumping on them… had they not, the quality of online coverage would have diminished significantly overnight…
The outside of the building is clad in white tiles, with the effect of being one of having been constructed out of LEGO Bricks. The ‘brick tops’ are being covered in rubber, to make them softer to land and step on.
Beyond what I have described here, there is nothing further currently available to view. We have seen aspects of the Green and Red Zones, as well as the History zone, and the inside of the space that will become the Masterpiece Gallery. However, what I have seen has me excited to return to Billund, and experience the LEGO House in its entirety. It will certainly offer something to anyone who cares about LEGO.
The Blue Zone (the logic zone) and Yellow (emotional zone) still have much to be revealed about them between now and opening: more information about those areas is available at the LEGO House website. Tickets are now available for prepurchase. The LEGO House has its Grand Opening September 28th 2017.
Oh, and with regards to 1000040: The LEGO House – the luggage has just turned up: I’ll look at that this week. It is only sold by businesses around Billund (but not at LEGOLAND.). Apparently there will be a new version available after the the LEGO House opens.