Dezeen Magazine

Arndt Schlaudraff recreates Brutalist buildings in Lego for Instagram

Photo essay: Berliner Arndt Schlaudraff creates intricate Lego models of Brutalist and Modernist buildings, and photographs the results for his Instagram account lego_tonic (+ slideshow).

Schlaudraff started off using Lego to construct fictitious designs, but decided to start recreating famous buildings after visiting The Bauhaus art school in Dessau, Germany.

He finds the characteristically boxy forms of Brutalist and Modernist styles particularly suitable for Lego construction, but he has also recreated iconic landmarks including the' Eiffel Tower and the UC Innovation Center by Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena.

The models are destroyed almost immediately after completion to free up enough bricks for his next project, so Schlaudraff photographs the works as a momento. In this essay written for Dezeen, he describes how lego_tonic came about:

A friend of mine posted the Lego Architecture Studio box on Facebook a year and a half ago and I thought that it was cool. Later that week, when I passed the Lego store in Berlin, I went in and bought one of the boxes.

The first models I built were not very good. I had to re-learn how to use the bricks, because the last time I has played with Lego was when I was a child.

UC Innovation Center by Pritzker Price Winner Alejandro Aravena recreated in Lego by Arndt Schlaudraff
Innovation Center UC by Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena recreated in Lego by Arndt Schlaudraff

From the very beginning I thought that I had to keep a record of my buildings. I never thought about "publishing" them on Instagram.

At first I only used my profile for the private use of editing the pictures. A friend of mine who works for a Instragram/YouTube Promotion-Agency told me that I had to open my profile to the public, so I did.

I never expected that someone else would share my interest in Lego architecture. Actually, I still find it kind of nerdy myself.

The intention for me was to do something creative and not hang in front of my computer every evening. I tried to paint, but the results were ridiculous.

I started by building my own houses, but after I visited the white buildings of the Bauhaus University in Dessau, I rebuilt an existing building for the first time. The white bricks where perfect for those Bauhaus buildings.

A month ago I discovered a Facebook group called The Brutalism Appreciation Society and I got really addicted to the era of Brutalism, from the 60s to the mid 80s of the last century.

Lego Architecture Studio seems to be perfect to recreate those buildings. Although sometimes it is frustrating that, due to the square blocks, it is nearly impossible to rebuild houses with many curves or rolling edges. For example, a building from Zaha Hadid or Juergen Mayer H is very hard to realise with Lego bricks.

I know that there are Lego master-builders who are able to build some of their designs, but I guess I'm not one of them yet.

I often get asked if I would sell my models or if I could at least sell a construction plan. I always have to answer that these are mostly spontaneously built models, which I photograph for documentation and destroy directly afterwards.

Via 57 West by BIG
Via 57 West by BIG recreated in Lego by Arndt Schlaudraff

First, the reason for the destruction was that I didn't have enough bricks to build something else. Now that I have more bricks, I think that the destruction is maybe part of the process of creating, destruction and resurrection.

I like the idea that my buildings existed in the past, but now the only proof that they existed are the photos that I took. Maybe there's an archeological thought behind that.

Arndt Schlaudraff constructed a model of Mies van der Rohe's 1929 Barcelona Pavilion for lego_tonic
Mies van der Rohe's 1929 Barcelona Pavilion recreated in Lego by Arndt Schlaudraff

I know that 1,000 followers on Instagram is not very much, but for me that's not the important part of what I'm doing. What surprises me is that there is constantly a group of people somewhere in the world who think that it's interesting to see the next building from me.

I don't understand the concept of people who post selfies all the time and collect 500,000 followers. I think you have to do something creative that inspires other people.

I do like to get inspired by other people's creative output as well. That's actually the idea of the Bauhaus. To create a thinktank and cross-fertilise each other with your own creativity.