Architecture does not seem to be a priority for the LEGO Group

When the Architecture theme was launched, these were the perfect sets for adults who didn’t make LEGO. But now it seems like a novelty in a gift shop.

Architects attract clichés. They wear turtleneck sweaters and round metal-rimmed glasses. They drive a Saab. And almost everyone will have a LEGO Architecture set on their desk. The first sets could have been made for them. Minimal monochrome designs that looked perfect on a Scandinavian design table.

Soon the theme evolved, showcasing the best of 20th century architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Guggenheim Museum stood next to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. And next to that, perhaps the epitome of ‘futuristic’ house design, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye. Intertwined were iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the White House and the Sydney Opera House.

These were all sets aimed directly at adults, and often adults who would have little or no interest in a traditional LEGO set. These were designs that could sit on a desk in an office and draw admiring glances where a CITY police station would only raise – and bemused – eyebrows.

Then came 21028 New York City. Rather than an individual building, it was a skyline, incorporating a number of famous buildings, each created from a handful of bricks, each a suggestion of the building rather than an accurate representation. At under £50 it was an ideal Big Apple holiday souvenir, and was soon followed by others. Berlin. Venice. London.

And since then, these detailed patterns of architectural icons seem to have been pushed aside. These days, designs suitable for gift shops and change units are the order of the day. As for “proper” architecture sets (no offense, Team Skyline), we’ve only had three sets in the last three years, with 21058 The Great Pyramid of Giza after 21056 Taj Mahal (him -even arguably a remake of both Creator Expert versions) and 21054 The White House from 2020.

Why we see so few models of this theme is something of a mystery. The LEGO Group has been actively courting adults over the past few years with the 18+ branding and “Adults Welcome” slogan. So for a line that’s aimed squarely at that segment of the market, receiving so little support is confusing. Chances are the answers are buried somewhere in a sales report.

One can only hope that the line gets a bit more attention and that designers seek out real examples of avant-garde architecture rather than tourist attractions. The options are endless, such as the Millau viaduct in France, the Cube House in Rotterdam or the Isokon building in London. All of this would make for both interesting and aesthetically pleasing builds.

We’ll just have to see what the LEGO Architecture team comes up with next. But judging from the recent past, we’ll probably have to wait until next year to see what happens.

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