We don't normally cover MOCs (my own creations) here at Brickset; we leave that to the experts over at The Brothers Brick, but we're making an exception for this absolutely stunning model of London's Palace of Westminster, otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament, built by Brickset member and forum regular paperballpark, AKA Jamie Douglas.
Read our exclusive interview with Jamie and view more images after the break.
Brickset: What inspired you to build the model?
Jamie: As soon as I saw the Big Ben model revealed last year, I knew the full Palace of Westminster had to be done. I figured that it might as well be me that did it!
How did you go about planning the build?
There are a couple of plans of the building on the internet, and I used them to work out the foundation of the whole build – the base of the building. Planning the base was the critical thing, as I didn’t want to get half-way through and realise that sections didn’t line up where they should do.
The planning took about 20 – 30 hours, and that was just the base, as I didn’t plan the build any higher than that, I just built it as I went along. I didn’t use LDD or any other digital designer for planning any part of it, as I prefer to build with bricks.
I mostly used Google Maps for reference, as it has a 3D section of London, with a really good representation of the building. That was very useful for working things out, such as lining parts of the building up. I was also down in London at one point during the build, and I took a load of photos of the outside of the building while down there, which helped a lot with the detail.
How many parts are in it and where did you get them? Which part is used the most?
It uses about 50,000 pieces in total. I opened ten Big Ben sets, in addition to the set used for the Big Ben section itself. I had about 13,000 pieces left over from the sets, but I also ordered a total of about 11,000 pieces from Bricklink, as well as using an estimated 6,000 pieces from my own collection.
The part I used the most is the Trans-Black 1x1 brick (6102359), which is used for the windows – I used almost 5,400 of those. Next up is the Tan 1x1 plate (4159553), of which I used almost 4,000, and there are also over 3,000 of the Tan 1x1 bricks (4113915) in there.
Did you know before you started exactly what parts you needed, or did you start building and source more as needed?
I had a rough idea of the kinds of parts I’d need, but I had no real idea of how many. I was able to get quite far just using the bricks from the sets, but there were sections which needed elements not in the sets, and with other elements it became clear quite early on that there wouldn’t be nearly enough of them in the sets, so I had to get more from Bricklink. For example, I estimate I used nearly 1,300 Tan 1x2 bricks (4109995), but there are only 28 of them in each set.
What scale and size is it, and how will you get it to exhibitions?
It’s the same scale as the Big Ben set, so it’s 177.6cm (222 studs) wide, 100cm (125 studs) deep, and about 70cm high.
It splits down into six main sections for easy transportation to and from shows. I couldn’t have built it all in one piece! It takes about half an hour to put it all together
Were there any particularly tricky areas of the building to build and/or get looking right?
Westminster Hall – the oldest part of the palace, built in 1097 – is at an angle to the rest of it, which was tricky to join to the rest of the building! If that wasn’t difficult enough, there’s a small section next to Westminster Hall which is at a different angle again.
There are some small compromises with scale at various points in the building, due to the limitations of representing such a complex building in LEGO. Some of these caused a few headaches when planning it, but there were no major problems.
The Central Tower was also quite tricky, given that it’s octagonal, and also sloping at the bottom and near the top. It took me a total of 12 hours just to do that tower.
How long did it take to build?
I knew this would be a question everybody would ask, so I kept track of how long it took me. It worked out at 234 hours, not including the 20 – 30 hours of planning. I built it over the course of 5 months.
What part of it are you most proud?
There’s actually two parts I really like. The first is the Victoria Tower (the main tower at the opposite end to the clock tower), mainly because of how detailed I was able to get it, and how solid the construction of it is. The second is Westminster Hall, partly because it’s a very recognisable part of the building with quite a bit of detail, and also because architecturally it’s completely different to the rest of the building. I think it’s turned out very well, and I’m very pleased with it.
Is there anything inside?
A lot of bricks and cross-bracing to support the structure! Most of the building is too small to do any kind of interior. I considered doing the inside of Westminster Hall, but I realised I couldn’t without severely compromising the structural integrity of that section.
There is, however, an interior of sorts at the base of the Victoria Tower, because you’re able to see inside the base of the tower when walking past it. Photos I took while down in London came in very handy when building that.
What advice do you have for someone looking to build a similarly sized model of a local landmark?
Oh blimey! Plan, plan and plan some more. The more you plan, the less you’ll have to re-build later. Take lots of photos if you can, and using plans of the building would be best, although whether there are any publicly available will depend on the building.
Also, you may think you have enough bricks, but you probably don’t. I used my entire supply of 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 1x4, 1x6 and 1x8 Tan bricks when building this, and I had a LOT of them.
Where will you be exhibiting it?
It will be shown in public for the first time at Bricktastic in Manchester, UK, on Sat 1 – Sun 2 July. All proceeds from the event go to the charity Fairy Bricks, which is a really good cause. I hope to see you there!
You can view more photos on flickr.
More information about Bricktastic and Fairy Bricks
Giant Westminster model to be unveiled at Bricktastic
Manchester’s very own LEGO brick show Bricktastic, hosted by children’s charity Fairy Bricks, returns in July with a bang, including the first chance to see an exclusive giant brick-built model of the Palace of Westminster.
Now in its third year, Bricktastic has become the must-visit LEGO brick show for the north of England. Every year the event boasts some of the best creations from some the UK’s hottest LEGO builders – and this year is no exception.
Taking centre stage for 2017 is a giant detailed model of the Palace of Westminster from builder Jamie Douglas. Constructed from over 50,000 bricks, this amazing creation spans over 1.7 metres long and 1 metre deep. Not a single detail has been omitted from this architectural masterpiece as Jamie confesses to having spent 30 hours planning it before even starting the epic 234-hour build, which has been built exclusively for Bricktastic.
“The model has to be seen to be believed,” said Fairy Bricks ‘Chief Fairy’ Kevin Gascoigne. “This is a fantastic opportunity for the public to view this unique and stunning model for the first time.”
Bricktastic has proved over the years that it is the perfect day out for every LEGO-loving family. Visitors can experience an amazing array of giant models from fans and professional LEGO builders Bright Bricks, they can spend hours creating in the free play areas, get involved with the robotic world of LEGO Mindstorms, and not forgetting the opportunity to pick up a bargain from the array of traders.
Bricktastic 2017 is back at Manchester Central on Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July 2017. Tickets are available from www.bricktastic.org
About Fairy Bricks
Fairy Bricks is a registered charity that has one simple objective, to provide LEGO to children in hospital. Our charitable aim is very simple and straightforward, and as a charity we act in a very similar way.
From humble beginnings and a single hospital donation in 2012, Fairy Bricks now delivers LEGO with a retail value of approximately £5000 per month throughout the UK and sometimes beyond. In the later half of 2017 we are hoping to increase that to £7500 of sets each and every month.
Play is a vital part of the recovery process when children are in hospital. It provides comfort, distraction and is even used as an educational tool by Play Specialists to assist children with procedures they have to endure. LEGO itself as a product is perfect for this. It is an item many children are already familiar with and can provide an instant escape at a very difficult time. Then by its very nature when tomorrow comes it can be rebuilt to help the same child with something else or move to another child to start the process all over again