Lego bricks, often a rite of passage for children, are growing up. Adult designers nostalgic for their youth have applied them to architecture, design, and now digital modeling.
London-based Gravity, a firm whose work focuses on the way 3D content is created—and more specifically augmented reality sketching—recently rolled out a digital modeling kit (currently in its prototype phase) that uses Lego Duplo bricks. "Lego X is a network of bricks that communicates through an app made in-house," explains Oluwaseyi Sosanya, a design engineer on the Gravity Sketch team. "You have your bricks and you start building with them. The system understands the shapes being built and lets you control certain parameters to modify the shape for use when finished building."
The Lego bricks’ movements are reciprocated in real time on a screen using location-mapping and gyroscopic sensors. Once a general form has been constructed, parameters in the app allow the user to shape a more refined end product, which can be stored and shared digitally, and eventually 3D printed.The exciting news for architects is the fact that the app could one day be paired with Lego’s existing Architecture Studio kit, generating a new approach to building design. The technology was developed by the Gravity Sketch team while working on their proprietary augmented reality software, which can turn 2D drawings into 3D models in real time.
Though this app isn’t a direct product of Lego, the company is no stranger to building design and modeling. In 2013, Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group was commissioned to design the Lego Brand House in Denmark, a museum and experience center that will draw its massive stacked bricks structure from the country’s most famous toy. Joe Meno, the editor of Brick Journal, a magazine for all things Lego, told ARCHITECT: "Many architects credit Lego building with starting their interest in design, although BIG is the only firm to actively use Lego as a modeling medium."
Lego released a program called Digital Designer, which allows users to model anything digitally. A virtual building version came out last year, allowing enthusiasts to build on a template base. The app is still limited in its modeling capacities, but it could be the start of something legitimate with regard to architecture. As for whether Gravity Sketch’s invention will be absorbed into the Lego brand, Meno says: "Lego X is beyond what Lego has shown publicly, but is a good indicator of where Lego prototyping will be going."