Strange Harvest
Architecture / Design / Art
StrangeHarvest is written and collated by Sam Jacob.


LegoLand London Cluster



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Like some kind of satire-free Gulliver, I'm striding across a concrete landscape inside a large white tent. It looks like a desert marked out with spray paints. Stretched over a large geometric canyon is a Lego model of Tower Bridge. It looks as though a terrible toy town disaster has decimated London leaving a solitary landmark, like a cute version of Hiroshima.

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Actually, this is, or soon will be, the new Lego MiniLand model – or cluster, as it is evocitaly known in the trade - of London at LegoLand Windsor. Elsewhere, other parts of London are being assembled. Up the hill in Windsor, the British Knights of architecture are being feted in Lego: The Lloyds building and City Hall are being carefully modelled by Ryan and Katie respectively. In Billund – Legolands own ground zero – and in the Check Republic other recent London icons are being assembled: three Canary Wharf towers, the Gherkin, the Millennium Bridge. These new models will be added to the old London MiniLand buildings: Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the BT Tower, Docklands Light Railway, Piccadilly Circus – though transformations of the last ten years are reflected in changes to places like Trafalgar Square. There is a new Lego underground station, ‘Brick Park’. And a moment of geographic serendipity means Waterloo Station has been moved so that it neighbours MiniLand France - corrects the old cluster where Eurostar terminated at Charing Cross. A Lego Ken Livingstone might be made. Perhaps insulting a Lego reporter from the Evening Standard. Whose complaint might in turn see Lego Ken up before a Lego Tribunal. An animated Skanska sponsored crane must obviously be a tribute to the wonders of PFI.

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The whole thing has a kind of insane wonder about it. A tour de force of Lego transubstantiation – City Hall had to be built out of the 35 different types of silver LEGO bricks. It’s made within the tradition of picturesque landscaping, only here the techniques one might see at Stowe or Blenheim have been compressed.

Of course this is an anathema to a certain school of architecture and sculpture. What if Louis Kahn asked a Lego Brick what it wants to be? And what would he make of it if the brick replied ‘I’d like to be a tie in with a major motion picture release, ideally involving space’. What exactly would Carl Andre make of 13 million LEGO bricks?

In the ten years since the original London cluster, the real city has become more plastic. The skyline has become more remarkable and London seems somewhere it is possible to re-make. So it is that Docklands has now become an Eastern anchor to the model. Perhaps another ten years as London continues to drift east, we’ll see a Lego Thames Gateway.

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In fact, London’s drift West along the M4 corridor might also mean that LegoLand itself becomes part of Lego MiniLand. At which point a crack in the sky might open up and swallow us all.

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MiniLand has all of the surrealness of any miniature village. But it’s extra odd because potentially - if you were stricken by an infantile obsession multiplied by a lottery win – it would be possible for you to construct it at home. Imagine rooms would be filled toys become too giant, recalling the scene in Close Encounters where Richard Dreyfuss builds a ceiling-scraping model of the Devils Mount in his front room.

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Model villages are not just models of real places, though they are obsessively concerned with looking like a scaled down reality. They are also models of ideas, shrunk to fit comprehension. The act of making things in miniature is not just about representation.

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Pre Renaissance, scale was not used to indicate distance. Instead, it represented other kinds of relationships: power and wealth. What it indicates here is different: MiniLand is a place where geography and scale has collapsed. Its accuracy of modelling is shot through with inaccuracy. The unrecognisable gaps are as important as the familiar things that have been modelled. The skill is in the invisible join lines, the edits and splices. The irony might well be that these invisible parts of the model are the rawest reflection of the contemporary city.

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Alternatively, one could argue that real world is becoming more like MiniLand - the depicted morphing into the depiction. Miniature villages create simultaneous sensations of omnipresence and disconnectedness, replicas of sensations familiar to anyone whose walked down Oxford Street. It might explain why both Will Self and Douglas Coupland have Honey-I-Blew-Up-The-Author dust jacket photos of themselves in model villages. Perhaps it is because the model villages physically display an idea of a relationship between the individual and the city around them that they have become the location of choice for crankey-pop novelists.

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Posted by anothersam at March 19, 2006 8:51 PM.

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Contents:

More Scenes In Cartoon Deserta

Eiffel X-Rays

Beyond: Values and Symptoms

Sub Plan

Shenzhen: Window of the World

White Power

Generic Powerpoint Template: Delivering Bad News

Duplicate Array

The Best New Building In London

Book Review: The Infrastructural City

A Balloon in the Pantheon

Letters From The Pantheon

Henry Moore in Motion

On My Steel Horse I Ride

The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition

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Obscure Design Typologies: Life Guard Chairs

Osama bin Laden Cigarette Lighter: Novelty Products as Congealed Culture

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Candy Pistol

Now Showing: Dan Grahams 'Rock My Religion'

This Concrete 'O': On Serotonin, the M25, and the Motorik Picturesque

Church of the Literal Narrative

Philadelphias Floating Architecture

Now Viewing: Married To The Eiffel Tower

Le Corbusiers Image Hoard: Poeme Electronique

Giant American Signs: Original Learning from Las Vegas Footage

Giant Soviet Signs Cut Into Forests

Bricks Melted Into Icicles: Napalm Decorative

C-Labs 'Unfriendly Skies' & 'Bootleg' Volume

2 The Lighthouse: Self Storage & Architectural Hallucinations

Ceci N'Est Pas Une Pipe: Infrastructure as Architectural Subconcious.

Viva Sectional Cinematography!

Now Showing: The Installation of an Irreversible Axis on a Dynamic Timeline

Plug: Junk Jet

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Geography in Bad, Festive Drag.

The Ruins of the Future

High Tech As Steampunk ...

On The Retro Infrastructural

Simulations of Industry: High Tech Architecture and Thatcherism

David Greene: The Big Nothing

From The Factory to the Allotment: Tony Wilson, Urbanist

Koolhaas HouseLife / Gan Eden: The Revenge of Architectural Media

Ruburb-ric: The Ecologies of the Farnsworth House

The Architecture of Divorce

Flagrant Delit: The Movie

Landscape as Clothing

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham Redux

Acts of Un-Building: Timelapse Demolitions

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Stonehenge: A Black Hole At The Heart Of British Architecture

The Popemobile: Mechanised Robes & Motorised Architecture

Tarmac Adam, Tarmac Eden

The Secret Language of Surface

Some Housekeeping

Information Fields: Agriculture as Media

My Bloody Valentine: Sound as Substance

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Form Follows Dysfunction: Bad Construction & The Morality of Detail

Floating Homes

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Moving Houses: Buildings In Motion

Desktop Study: The Strange World of Sports Studio Design

Married to the Eiffel Tower: More Objectum Sexuals

60 Years of The Crazy Horse Memorial

Married to the Berlin Wall: "The Best and Sexiest Wall Ever Existed!"

Inflatable Icebergs: Sublimated Guilt Has Never Been So Fun

The Cinderella Effect: Phantom Architectures of Illumination

Two Deaths and a Retirement: The Strange Shape of British Architecture

If London Were Like New York: Antique Schizo-Manhattanism

If London Were Like Venice: Antique Geo-Poetic Speculations and Hydro-Fantasy

41 Hours in an Elevator: The Movie

NASA: Mapping the Moon with Sport

Lemon Squeezy: Design Tendencies after the Juicy Salif

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Authentic Replicas: Football and the Franchising of Place

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The Ghost of Christmas Futurism

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Military Deceptions

Chapters for an Imaginary Book About Architecture

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The Nuclear Heritage Coast

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Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham

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How to Plan A New Town

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Scary Suburbanism: Why Horror is at Home in the Suburbs

Re-Make Re-Model

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The Clapham Trainwash

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The Museum that Ate Itself

Hollow Inside: Starbucks Foam and the Rise of Ambiguous Materials

Revisions to the Architecture of Hell

Crufts: Dogs, Design and Aesthetic Genetics

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Everything Counts - The Sound of Geography Collapsing.

Carlton Terrace Extension

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