- August, 2007
- See all pictures on Brickshelf
The very first commissioned project was this scale model of Alsion.
Alsion was in 2007 a new cultural center in Sønderborg and houses both a part of the university "Syddansk Universitet", and a theater/concert hall. A LEGO model had been commissioned for the inauguration by LEGO and the committee behind Sønderborg Ringriderfest (Sønderborg festival of jousting)
The LEGO model was to be built during the festival of jousting. Our crew of eager LEGO enthusiasts had four days there to build the 10 large buildings. It took a little longer to finish the model, but it was ready in time for the inauguration on October 30 2007.
The model was placed just outside of the concert hall. The concert hall is the white windowless building shown as seventh from the right in this picture. The model was placed so that people exiting the concert hall would be greeted by the sea-facing side of the model.
The wall of the concert hall is decorated by the artist Olafur Eliasson. This detail was unfortunately not present in the model as it would not have been visible from the outside. Other details, such as the colorful floating rooms are, however, recreated.
The project started early in 2007 when Jan Beyer and Peter Simoni from LEGO contacted the Danish LEGO user group Byggepladen for people who wanted to build something at the festival of jousting. A handful of people, myself included, signed up and I was tasked with designing and ordering parts for the project.
I started planning on June 21, 2007. We had back then not decided what to build, but was asked to choose either Sønderborg Slot, Alsion or the new Danfoss headquarters. With time being short, I started designing Sønderborg Slot with Alsion as a backup model. The parts had to be ordered and delivered before the beginning of July, where the festival took place.
LEGO was able to deliver the parts for Alsion, so it became the chosen project. The castle could then be the subject of the next year.
The day before the festival, I went and took some additional pictures of the real building, as photos of it on the Internet were sparse back in 2007.
In this picture you can see how the red room floats prominently inside of the second building. This was a must-have feature that needed to be visible on the LEGO model. The scale of the LEGO model was chosen so that the black windows could be represented by 1x4x6 LEGO windows. Luckily the real model is decorated with large regular sections, making it easy to translate it into LEGO.
Approximately 300 photos were taken that day in order to catch all details of the large construction. These photos would then be used as references during the building of the LEGO model.
The final crew was chosen by the organizers and consisted of Ina Hjorth Nilsson, Sten Lassen, Anton Wrisberg and myself. In this picture you can see Sten and me finishing the first model. The picture is taken by Ina (Ina is behind all the pictures with wide black borders).
The construction took place in a big LEGO tent where families could come by and let the children build freely from huge basins of LEGO. We stood in one side of the tent, so that everyone could come by and see the construction up close.
Only the first two building were finished after the four days of building at the festival. At such an event a lot of time goes by with interacting with the audience and testing out ideas for constructing the individual details. This is very normal when building such large models. You want to get the basics right before you complete the full model. But things will go wrong even with a lot of planning, as the next picture will show you.
After the festival, LEGO retrieved the two finished blocks on a pallet. They would later be delivered at Ina's place as she had enough space for us to finish the project.
At the first day of building at Ina's place we had a major setback. It turns out that I had made an error when calculating the width of the second building. It had to be made wider, so the whole block had to be rebuilt. In this picture you can see some of the floating boxes that will be placed inside. The keen eye can spot them in the finished model.
Work progressed the following days as more blocks were added. The red bricks on top are used to keep track of the order as the individual blocks are not connected and were often taken aside in order to make modifications. In this picture you can see how an I-frame with a single wall down the center was used to support the individual blocks and allow them to be moved easily by hand. Without such a frame it would require two persons to move a single block and there would not have been anything to support the roof. Photo by Ina.
The next day we had completed 3 new blocks. We were nearing completion when new aerial photos of the real building came in. It turns out that the roofs need to be recessed, black and with large tilted panels - quite a departure from the basic white roofs we had been building up to that day. Photo by Ina.
I asked Ina to build the inauguration ceremony with the queen cutting the line. She was skeptical at first, but I insisted and she grabbed some of her own LEGO parts for the scene. It would be placed at the main entrance during the inauguration as an Easter egg.
The model was set up at Alsion with just a couple of days to spare. It was presented to the public in the morning the same day as the inauguration of Alsion.
The model was presented by the politicians Benny Engelbrecht (S) and Peter Hansen (V) who was having an armistice from the election campaign that had just started. Ina and I were present as official representatives for LEGO. See the video on youtube here.
Queen Margrethe of Denmark cut the line to officially open the building. She was accompanied by Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary.
Remember the Easter egg that Ina built? While admiring the model, the prince leaned in and uttered to Her Majesty: "Isn't that you?"
And indeed it was. Ina's little vignette had grabbed the attention from the royal family. Now that is something you don't get to experience every day.
I will leave you with some pictures of the model taken from the sea-side.
In total it took us 240 hours to complete the full model, which consists of approximately 76000 LEGO elements - most of them small transparent 1x2 bricks used in the clear windows.
I do not know the current whereabouts of the model. The last I heard was that it had been exhibited somewhere in Germany.