LEGO® Formalism in Architecture

Saul Fisher

My LEGO® is not your LEGO. I say this not in any supercilious purist way, but simply in the historical sense that the LEGO world I inhabit— in the mental space I allot to LEGO and in the box of LEGO that sits in my parents’ closet—is of pre-1976 vintage. It is a world of fairly basic shapes and colors, and has no representative human figures (minifigs). There are some trees and bushes, true, and a handful of complex forms like fence work or shutters and mechanical parts like a crane or even a motor (none of which work anymore, except as structural elements). Yet if we strip out those few, assorted special elements, the remaining LEGO world is incredibly simple and archetypal in virtue of capturing the core and traditional aspects of LEGO construction and design. Indeed, that world—which I’ll call original, and which LEGO refers to as System i Leg—merits our attention, telling us about not just LEGO architecture but architecture generally: its objects, its aesthetic properties, and how we judge them.

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