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Want to learn more about architecture styles? Welcome to Architecture 101, where we explore the basics of architecture through Lego blocks!
White lego blocks against black background

One of my earliest memories of childhood is playing with Lego blocks. I would spend endless hours building, destroying, and rebuilding detailed structures from my imagination. Creating whole cities or buildings down to the minute details made me feel free and powerful. I still joke today that my love of Lego led me to my career choice as an architect, as it was the profession most likely to let me play with the blocks as an adult. It seems that I was not so wrong.

An old box of Lego, showing two children playing with a lego-constructed town

In truth, Lego blocks are an ideal model-making medium: they are easily assembled, modular, and allow room to experiment freely. The toy company has seized this opportunity to create a Lego Architecture line that recreates famous architectural buildings or provides generic pieces for offices to recreate their own projects with.

If you are interested to learn more about the basics of architecture (or want to see them in a different light), look no further! It's time to look at some of the major genres of modern architecture in micro-scale.

Neo-classical Architecture
Lego model of a neo-classical building against black background

Period: 1750s-2010s

About: Also known as New Classical architecture, neo-classicism continues the practice of traditional architectural style from classical antiquity and the Vitruvian principles. Although never a particularly dominant architectural movement, neo-classical buildings are still common today.


  • Grand scale (usually used for civic buildings)

  • Use of classical elements from Greek and Roman period

  • Dramatic use of columns

  • Simplistic design

Prominent architects: Robert Adam, Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Prominent projects: Woolworth Building (New York City, USA), US Capitol Building (Washington DC, USA), Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

Prairie School
Lego model of a prairie style building against black background

Period: 1890s-1920s

About: Mostly seen in Midwestern USA, the Prairie style invokes the vast, flat, stretching landscape of native America.


  • Horizontal lines

  • Overhanging eaves

  • Integration with the landscape

Prominent architects:Frank Lloyd Wright, Purcell & Elmslie

Prominent projects:The Fallingwater House (Mill Run, USA), Merchants National Bank (Winona, USA)

Lego model of a Bauhaus style building against black background

Period: 1919-1933

About: Also known as the international style, Bauhaus converged the disciplines of architecture, art, and design (including typography) in the post WW1 era. The movement was famous for its emphasis on the function, rather than the form.


  • Functionalist, valuing the rational and functional

  • Lack of ornaments, simple and minimalistic

  • Cheap and can be mass-produced

Prominent architects: Walter Gropius, Adolf Meyer, Mies van der Rohe

Prominent projects: Bauhaus (Dessau, Germany), ADGB Trade Union School (Bernau bei Berlin, Germany)

Lego model of a constructivist building against black background

Period: 1920-1932

About: Constructivism rose to popularity in the Soviet Union, as a branch of Russian Futurism. It was unique to its origin country’s ideologies, as it merged technology and engineering under a communist approach.


  • Application of 3-dimensional cubism to abstract elements

  • Geometrically strong: Mixes lines, cylinders, cubes, and rectangles

  • Use of technological elements and modern materials: steel, glazing

Prominent architects: Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky

Prominent projects: Tatlin’s Tower (St. Petersburg, Russia), Textile Institute (Moscow, Russia)

Lego model of an art-deco building against black background

Period: 1910-1939

About: Short for Arts Décoratifs, this movement represented luxury, glamour and hope for the future at a war-marked era. The Art Deco aesthetics were applied across many design branches, including architecture, painting, sculpture, fashion and interior design.


  • Bold geometric forms

  • Bright colours

  • Particular detail to craftsmanship and use of high quality materials

  • Highly decorative

Prominent architects: Albert Aalbers, Albert Kahn, Erich Mendelsohn

Prominent projects: Chrysler Building (New York City, USA), Fiat Tagliero Building (Asmara, Eritrea), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), Ankara train station (Ankara, Turkey)

Lego model of a brutalist building against black background

Period: 1950s-1980s

About: Brutalism followed the Art Deco era, as a reaction to the previous decades’ light and frivolous approach to architecture. It was marked for its more serious, sober approach to architecture that didn’t concern itself with aesthetics.


  • Function over form

  • Inner functions of spaces are visible form the outside

  • Raw construction materials: heavy use of reinforced concrete

Prominent architects: Le Corbusier, Ernö Goldfinger, Alison and Peter Smithson

Prominent projects: Unité d’Habitation (Marseille, France), Trellick Tower (London, England), Habitat 67 (Montreal, Canada)

Lego model of a post-modern building against black background

Period: 1960s – Present

About: More of an umbrella term for a few styles of architecture, the style was born as a reaction to the rigidity, formality, and uniformity of modernist architecture.


  • Complex and contradictory assemble of forms, colours and textures

  • Fragmented volumes

  • Asymmetrical shapes

Prominent architects: Robert Venturi, Philip Johnson, Charles Moore, Michael Graves

Prominent projects: 550 Madison Avenue (New York City, USA), Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)

Contemporary Architecture
Lego model of a contemporary building against black background

Period: 1970s – Present

About: Contemporary architecture is the architecture of the 21st century. And expressive of its diverse, high-tech, global nature of its era, contemporary architecture cannot be defined in one specific style or approach.


  • Mostly designed to be notable

  • Heavy use of technological advancement and engineering

  • Usually asymmetrical, unexpected forms

  • Steel, glazing as most prominent materials

Prominent architects:Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Shigeru Ban

Prominent projects:The Shard (London, England), CCTV Headquarters (Beijing, China), Selfridges Department Store (Birmingham, England)

Lego model of a deconstructive building against black background

Period: 1980s – 2010s

About: Deconstructivism takes postmodernism several steps further. It opposes the rationality and the obsession with rationalism of the previous architectural movements. It can be seen as a controlled form of chaos, where the forms break out of their expected geometry.


  • Lack of symmetry, harmony, visual continuity

  • Fragmented and distorted volumes

Prominent architects: OMA, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind

Prominent projects: Jewish Museum (Berlin, Germany), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles, USA), Port Authority Building (Antwerp, Belgium)

Lego model of a neo-futurist building against black background

Period: 2000s – 2010s

About: Neo-futurism reflects a hopeful outlook to the future. It marries modern design with technology of the current times, creating a “utopian”, technologic approach to architecture.


  • Use of new materials or use of traditional materials in a technologically advanced manner impossible previously

  • Heavy use of computer-aided design

Prominent architects: Archigram, Peter Cook, Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava

Prominent projects: Kunsthaus (Graz, Austria), Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre (Baku, Azerbeijan), Museum of Tomorrow (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)


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