London … resisting the urge to build something at the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s fabulous ‘Bricks in the Sky’ LEGO Exhibition

It’s not everyday that one’s train is held up due to a swan on the line. But that was the reason given by the driver of the overground train I was stuck on for nearly twenty minutes at Canonbury earlier yesterday (only in Islington I guess). Eventually, the feathered creature moved out of the way and the train completed its journey to Stratford which was also my final stop. I was heading for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as I had been invited to visit the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit for the day.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit from ground level

The ArcelorMittal Orbit from ground level

During the London 2012 Olympic Games I have to admit that I was rather critical of the design of the ArcelorMittal Orbit (as my posts at the time reveal). Since then however, I have grown incredibly fond of The Orbit. It is now so synonymous with London 2012 that, being the old sentimental Londoner that I am, it always reminds me of that fabulous Summer of 2012 every time I see it. So, when I was invited along to scale The Orbit during half term (February 2015), I simply jumped at the chance.

The view from the top of The Orbit, towards Canary Wharf

The view from the top of The Orbit, towards Canary Wharf

The best seat in the house, or should that be ...in the Orbit

The best seat in the house, or should that be …in the Orbit

The eye-shaped London Aquatics Centre staring straight back

The eye-shaped London Aquatics Centre staring straight back

The former London 2012 Olympic stadium still under re-construction post-Games ...

The former London 2012 Olympic stadium still under re-construction post-Games …

... and the London 2012 Olympic stadium during the Games

… and the London 2012 Olympic stadium during the Games

My invitation wasn’t just to enjoy seeing some of London’s more famous landmarks from the top of The Orbit, but to also enjoy seeing some of London’s more famous landmarks from inside the top of The Orbit, made entirely out of LEGO. The Bricks in the Sky 2015 LEGO exhibition is being hosted at the top of The Orbit between 15th – 22nd February (2015) where the centrepiece of the exhibition is the original scaled model of the London 2012 Olympic Park by artist Warren Elsmore.

Warren Elsmore's stunning scaled model of the London 2012 Olympic Park

Warren Elsmore’s stunning scaled model of the London 2012 Olympic Park

London Bricks in the Sky Lego Exhibition Warren Elsmore Arcelormittal Orbit February 2015, London 2012 Olympic Park model (stadium and Orbit) with real Orbit structure in background

...

A sole LEGO minifigure in the stadium

A sole LEGO minifigure in the stadium

With those side-burns, it must be cycling champ Bradley Wiggins

With those side-burns, it must be cycling champ Bradley Wiggins

Warren Elsmore was commissioned in 2012 by Visit Denmark and the LEGO group to build the model as a showpiece for the Danish hospitality house based in London during the Games. It took over three hundred hours across five weeks, and a quarter of a million LEGO bricks to complete, and proved so popular with visitors it was later displayed in the Team GB headquarters during the Paralympic Games.

Elsmore's attention to detail is astounding. He worked mainly from photographs of the park to create the model

Elsmore’s attention to detail is astounding. He worked mainly from photographs of the park to create the model

(From left to right) Eton Manor, the Basketball Arena and the Velodrome on a scale of 1:500, with the Athletes's village in the background

(From left to right) Eton Manor, the Basketball Arena and the Velodrome on a scale of 1:500, with the Athletes’s village in the background

The model may be small in LEGO model terms, but it's still gigantic to some spectators

The model may be small in LEGO model terms, but it’s still gigantic to some spectators

And of course any model of the Olympic Park wouldn't be complete without the ArcelorMittal Orbit

And of course any model of the Olympic Park wouldn’t be complete without the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Warren Elsmore isn’t just hosting the exhibition all this week; he and his team are also working on a new commission: to build a two metre high scaled model of … well, what else but the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Setting the base for the two metre high model of The Orbit

Setting the base for the two metre high model of The Orbit

The project however was not proving easy. At the size the team were intending to build the model to, the combined weight of the 100,000 bricks required to build it would be so great there were fears that the model would collapse under the weight. To avoid this the team reinforced the base of the model and some clever CAD programming helped the team devise the best approach to building the body of the model.

Reinforcing the base of The Orbit model

Reinforcing the base of The Orbit model

The team feels confident that they will be successful in building the model and that it will be completed by Wednesday (18th February). However, the model will only remain intact until the end of the week before being dismantled again. I asked why it wasn’t going to be a permanent feature at The Orbit or at least be exhibited a little longer than a week as I am sure it would prove popular with visitors. The reason for its short life is because the LEGO bricks are only on loan and have to be returned! I asked Warren Elsmore did he not receive any LEGO bricks for Christmas which he could have used for the model to make it more permanent. “I did!” he replied with glee. “But,” he whispered as he leant towards me, “I had to buy them myself”.

Some of the 100,000 LEGO bricks that will be used to build the two metre high Orbit model

Some of the 100,000 LEGO bricks that will be used to build the two metre high Orbit model

There are more permanent and completed models by Warren Elsmore on display at the exhibition celebrating the best of London …

Very London indeed

Very London indeed

The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral and the Shard amongst other iconic landmarks making up the LEGO London skyline. Clearly the Routemaster has been built to a different scale, or the skyline is far away

The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard amongst other iconic landmarks making up the LEGO London skyline. Clearly the Routemaster has been built to a different scale, or the skyline is far away

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A London black cab and the Shard

A London black cab and the Shard

Battersea Power Station (how it once looked) and a red telephone box, again not quite to the same scale

Battersea Power Station (how it once looked) and a red telephone box, again not quite to the same scale

Nelson's Column

Nelson’s Column

Lord Nelson is presumably still cross over losing his arm in battle (which is understandable)

Lord Nelson is presumably still cross over losing his arm in battle (which is understandable)

… but not all of Elsmore’s models are associated with London:

The Arc de Triomphe (although if one squints hard enough it could pass for Marble Arch)

The Arc de Triomphe (although if one squints hard enough it could pass for Marble Arch)

How Barcelona's Sangrada Familia might look like when the real thing is finally completed (whenever that will be!)

How Barcelona’s Sangrada Familia might look like when the real thing is finally completed (whenever that will be!)

Malaysia's Petronas Towers ...

Malaysia’s Petronas Towers …

... next to the Shanghai TV Tower

… next to the Shanghai TV Tower

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With so many LEGO bricks around, no one could resist sitting down and having at go at building something themselves …

Builders and architects of the future hard at work

Builders and architects of the future hard at work

How the Eiffel Tower should look in my opinion

How the Eiffel Tower should look in my opinion

These two young builders were aiming to build a LEGO tower taller than themselves but were concerned that they wouldn't be able to reach the top of it to add further bricks once they had got close to their goal. I offered my services but it turned out I wasn't much more taller than they were

These two young builders were aiming to build a LEGO tower taller than themselves but were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to reach the top of it to add further bricks once they had got close to their goal. I offered my services but it turned out I wasn’t much more taller than they were

Even artist Warren Elsmore (pictured) couldn't resist building a little something on the side

Even artist Warren Elsmore (pictured) couldn’t resist building a little something on the side

Even I couldn’t resist the allure of the bricks and so I attempted to build my own model of a London landmark before I left:

It's the Houses of Parliament obviously

It’s the Houses of Parliament obviously

More on The Bricks in the Sky LEGO exhibition and forthcoming exhibitions at The Orbit can be found at the official ArcelorMittal Orbit website here.

Footage of Warren Elsmore and co. adding the finishing touches to that model of The Orbit and more about the man himself, his LEGO art and forthcoming exhibitions can be found on his official website here.

… and thank you to Mango PR for the invitation.

TLT x


 

How the ArcelorMittal Orbit won me over … (click on the images for the story so far)

The Orbit amongst corn flowers Orbit looking into Stadium Park in Progress Looking up at The Orbit

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