As part of the 2014 London Festival of Architecture, teams of architects from the four of the most recent Stirling Prize winning British practices were challenged with creating the most imaginative piece of a city - out of LEGO. Each team began with a carefully laid out square on the floor of the largest gallery of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, at which point they were given just one hour and 45 minutes to create an urban masterpiece out of blocks. Each group of architects worked alongside students from the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme, which offers A-level art students the chance to engage with art and architecture. An esteemed panel of judges ultimately selected the team from Zaha Hadid Architects as victorious, who "considered London on a huge scale and used curving buildings of different typologies which echoed the shape of the Thames."
Read more about the brief and the other participating entries after the break.
The opening brief was to "create a new slice of London, comprised of buildings and structures that would demonstrate how the capital might look in the future. The architects were encouraged to be as speculative and imaginative as possible, and could include housing, public spaces, offices, spaces for leisure or culture." According to the organisers, "some teams carefully separated out the colours, using them to differentiate different building types and architecture in a city plan, while others focused on creating colourful structures that were at a much larger scale."
Zaha Hadid Architects' winning scheme "explored the idea of a modern city making maximum use of the concept of ‘Live-Work’ which allows for the boundaries between downtown offices and residential neighbourhoods to be blurred and to reduce commuting. The location was near the Docklands, which is seeing massive redevelopment and allowed us to examine the possibility of the river becoming much more integral to the new fabric. The focus of the installation was not specific to any particular building form but working with the LEGO blocks to play with different configurations from orthogonal high-rises to softer curved structures."
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' "design was to create a city with high, multi-level platforms which allowed everybody to create their individual environments. The LEGO towers were built on their side, with the whole team carefully lifting them in unison through 90 degrees to create our vertical city – no glue was used!"
Stanton Williams' "created a scheme for a dynamic city consisting of various elements: the landscape – rivers, hills, trees – and the buildings – represented as sculptural elements, some gridded, others more abstract – all linked by the movement and connectivity of people, vehicles and infrastructure. The interconnection of these elements and the spaces between buildings are just as important as the design of the buildings. A truly dynamic city, we believe, is one which is greater than the sum of its parts and not just a collection of isolated elements."
Witherford Watson Mann "came into the competition without any fixed ideas or a scheme – only to work with what we found; interesting, energetic young people and lots of Lego! Working at the city scale we established key public spaces and routes within a master plan, and outlined different uses within the city blocks. We then invited members of the public to participate, especially children. The distinctive pyramidal forms were thought up by a young boy, which others adopted in their buildings; much like in London, where existing languages are interpreted and re-used. It resulted in a scheme which was varied, surprising and something which all those who participated could feel proud of."