Aug 2022

Lego Masters 1984

In 1984, ten Dutch young architects were commissioned by the Rotterdam Art Foundation to design a house in Lego for the exhibition 'Architecture in Lego'. Paul de Vroom and Dolf Dobbelaar participated with their design and story of the Chinese villa.

Lego krant nr 27 pag 8a 1984 tentoonstelling architectuur in lego

They could use the more than 1600 types of building blocks. The building assignment was brief and left the architect great freedom, only the ground surface of the building site was subject to a (relatively small) maximum, after all manageable models had to be produced. There were no restrictions for floor space, number of floors and building volume. The architect was asked to indicate how many and what kind of residents the villa should accommodate. The intention of the exhibition is twofold: serious and light-hearted. She shows how a new generation of Dutch architects carry out a (albeit unusual) assignment for a villa design. The use of LEGO material gives the designs an ironic, perhaps absurdist added value. Although the exhibition was not primarily made for the average LEGO user, it would reach a wider audience than those mainly interested in architecture.

The ten architects not only had to build a villa, they also had to invent the story of the inhabitants of the villa. The exhibition was a huge success, until well into 1986 the ten villas were on display in various Dutch museums. The models were included in the collection of the Netherlands Architecture Museum.

DKV Paul de Vroom Dolf Dobbelaar Chinese villa

The Chinese villa

At the end of their desperate journey through the wintry Himalayas, Chang and Tintin stumbled over a crumbling mountain path. Just as the Chinese youth threatened to collapse exhausted, our young hero pointed to a faint glow between the wisps of fog. Chang, regaining courage, clutched at Tintin and straightened up again. At an excruciatingly slow pace, the mystery began to unfold before their eyes. Suddenly Tintin shivered and shouted in utter confusion to his friend: "This is it! This is the villa..." (from: One, Two, Three with Broccoli)

It was now plain to see. On the edge of the rock wall stood a small villa that seemed to mock all the laws of gravity.

The house was actually a two-story box that seemed to balance on the rock face with long columns. As if the situation wasn't dangerous enough, at that moment a large block started spinning out from under the villa with loud squeaks and creaks. "Tintin, Tintin," said Chang, "this is the pool no one dares to swim in!" Above the gorge now slanted a glass pool, filled with steaming water. When our friends arrived at the villa, two glass-brick garage doors swung open. The situation under the villa became instantly visible. Beside the pool stood a curious automobile with even more curious passengers. The stairs were located in a long glass hall. One that sank into the depths past the wine cellars through the rock face and one that seemed to run diagonally up into the sky.

The two comrades were more curious than frightened, and crept up the stairs. At the first floor, Chang stopped and whispered to Tintin, "Go upstairs, I'll see you on the roof terrace." Brave Chang went past the cloakroom into the living room and found an almost empty room. There were only two walls and a counter. Just as Chang was enjoying the incredible view, a mysterious buzz was heard. He turned and nearly passed out in surprise. The room was completely changed; the walls seemed to have twisted and shifted.

Chang ran out of the living room and shouted "Tintin, Tintin!" calling up the stairs. Just then Tintin ran up the stairs from the arcade of the second floor. Panting, both reached the roof terrace and exchanged their experiences. Tintin also turned out to be something similar. He said that the second floor consisted of one continuous sleeping floor, containing two closed blocks. As with the living room, the situation here had unexpectedly changed. Walls and doors had turned and the blocks turned out to be bathrooms. They were completely identical, one colored totally yellow, the other totally red.

On the roof terrace, the heroes had soon calmed down and looked around. Dumbbells lay along a sports field and next to a row of cypress trees, a large silver awning swung slowly around.

It's haunted in here, Tintin thought, looking down. Deep in the gorge he saw an idyllic tropical beach in the blistering heat. Numb, he mused: this is impossible, or ..... At this moment his musings were rudely interrupted by a deafening noise. To a lot of cheers, a giant panda slid down a shiny slide and landed with a loud splash in the pool... Tintin was shocked and everything became clear. This was the long-lost Eldorado of the Abominable Snowman.