If you ask an architect what inspired them to choose that profession, almost all (or according to a study – 99 percent) will say they recall playing with their LEGO bricks as a child.
The LEGO Group, which turns 80 today, can look back onto an impressive success story – from 1932 to today. The company, founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen as a production company for wooden toys in the Danish city of Billund, has moved from the originally small workshop back in 1932, to become the third largest producer of play materials in the world. At the end of the 1940s, the first bricks hit the market, which resemble the modern classic of today. In 1958 Christiansen perfected the LEGO brick with the familiar knobs-and-tubes-connecting-system, which is what the now 3,120 different LEGO elements are still based on. It is currently represented in more than 130 countries with approx. 10,000 employees.
But while the influence of LEGO on architects may be self-evident, not many know about architecture’s contribution to LEGO. Only through the lens of architecture can you truly understand why LEGO holds the name as “The Toy of the Century.”
In the 1960s, Modern style became popular in America. LEGO Group challenged its designers to invent a set of components that would add a new dimension to LEGO building. They decided on a smaller LEGO brick that made it possible to construct far more intricate models than ever before. Soon after 1962, the LEGO ‘Scale Model’ line, directly inspired by the work of architects and engineers, was born.
As the Washington Post puts it, the LEGO brick was the perfect toy for its age, “ideally suited to an era of rapid and seemingly infinite economic expansion.” During the time when Modernist skyscrapers touched city skylines, an infinite combination of LEGOs rose to great heights in our childhood bedrooms. This is what makes LEGO so inspiring – that first, tempting taste of what it could be like to dream and build boldly in addition to the possibility and wonder of architecture itself.
The LEGO Group can boast that there are approximately 62 LEGO bricks for ever person on earth.
The name “LEGO” comes from the two Danish words “leg” and “godt”, which translates to “play well”.
Photos: Washington Post, LEGO