Review: The LEGO Architect

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The LEGO Architect is one of six or so LEGO books being published by No Starch Press in September. The great thing about No Starch books is that they are all very different and you never know quite what to expect when you browse through them for the first time. However, you can be sure that they will be beautifully presented and written by subject experts.

The LEGO Architect is certainly both of these as you will see from the sample page spreads that we have been sent to accompany our review after the break.

The 188-page hardback book has been written by Tom Alphin who publishes a blog about LEGO architecture among other things. It's presented in a square format, approx 23cm square, and if I have any criticism about No Starch books it is that they are all different sizes and don't sit well together on my bookshelf!

The bulk of the book is made up of seven chapters that cover different styles of modern western architecture: Neoclassical, Prairie, Art-Deco, Modernism, Brutalism, Postmodern and High-tech.

Within each chapter Tom first explains the characteristics, influences, origins and materials used and profusely illustrates this section with beautiful images of real-life examples, both from stock libraries and taken on his own travels.

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

Then he considers how buildings of the style might be tackled in LEGO, including thoughts on which bricks and colours are going to be useful. This is followed by several pages of photos of inspirational LEGO models built in the style that have been constructed by himself and others.

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

Finally, the chapters are rounded off with one or two building instructions for small models in the style of official Architecture sets, built entirely from white and transparent parts, for simplicity, clarity and in-keeping with the general feel of official ones, in particular the Architecture Studio, from which many of the models can be built.

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect

The book ends with a builder's guide covering topics such as scale, colours, form and detail, and even ideas on how to organise your bricks.

The LEGO Architect

Before I picked up this book I knew very little about different architectural styles and their characteristics but having read it from cover to cover I feel well informed both on identifying them in real life and also in how to capture their salient aspects in LEGO form so it's true to say that Tom has successfully imparted his considerable knowledge of architecture and how to tackle translating the different styles into LEGO form in the book, and if it is a subject that interests you, you will not be disappointed with it.

I would have liked to see him tackle the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, which I visited earlier this year, in the high-tech section but I suspect that's one building that would be impossible to recreate in LEGO form at a small scale :-)

The book is published on the 21st of September but if you can't wait to start reading it, take advantage of an offer on the No Starch website: Order the book through nostarch.com now ($19.95) and you will have access to a digital version of a chapter each week in the run up to publication:

  • August 21--Neoclassical and Prairie
  • August 28--Art Deco and Modernism
  • September 4--Brutalism
  • September 11--Postmodernism
  • September 18--High-Tech and Builder's Guide
  • September 21--Publication date

Bottom line: Highly recommended; upholds the high standard we've come to expect from No Starch books.

12 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

I love Lego and I love Architecture.
Looks like a no-brainer for me!

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By in United States,

I'm not an architecture guy, but there are some fantastic pictures in there. Also, I'm intrigued as to how he built the dome on that last building instruction... isn't that the point of instructions?

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By in United Kingdom,

All is revealed in the book!

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By in United Kingdom,

This is a must-have. Especially because Tom sent me one of his postcards, as promised. I have to see how Art Deco is tackled.

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By in United Kingdom,

Looks like a really worthwhile addition to the Lego lover's bookshelf. More so than the content-light DK Lego Architecture book.

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By in United Kingdom,

Actually that's a good point and one I should have raised in the review!

This is far more than a glorified catalogue which is pretty much all the DK one is, nice though it is...

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By in United States,

A very neat book indeed. I'll have to look into this. He sent us a postcard too. Very nice of him and my daughter was excited to receive it. I think this will be informative for us both.

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By in Netherlands,

Really looking forward having this book. It looks amazing. As a Architect set collector, this is a must have book in the collection. Preordered it on Amazon. Now just have to wait...

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm really looking forward to reading this. My particular interest is art Deco but do have an appreciation for all architectural types. A couple of my models made it into the book, may I say tom did a spot on job keeping me in the loop and I'm sure his passion for architecture will shine through here!

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By in United Kingdom,

This has been on my sitting on my watch list for a while. After reading this and seeing the samples it looks even better than I hoped it would be. If I don't get it for my birthday I'll buy it for myself :-)

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By in Australia,

wow, just wow.

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By in United States,

Can't wait to read this one. I love architecture and the architecture series of LEGO sets. Way to go, Tom!

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