As kids, we all tried to build the biggest, grandest, most intricate creations out of Legos that we could possibily manage. We threw a fit when our constructions were accidently knocked over, or destroyed on purpose. We always tried to one-up our playmate, using our Legos to build something better. Well, at least my brother did.
Legos are a great creative toy that most children never tire of playing with, including James May, the co-host of BBC’s car show, Top Gear. May began buiding a full size house made entirely out of Legos on August 1st, 2009 on the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey.
“The idea first came up over a beer, when we were talking about what we would have built as kids if we had enough Legos. Up until now, the largest thing I’ve ever built with Lego was probably a plane or a battleship, because that was all I could build with the amount I had”, May said when interviewed about the project. The Lego house was built as part of a new BBC series called James May’s Toy Stories in which the TV presenter takes Britain’s best-loved toys and uses them in new adventures.
Not only did May give birth to this Lego house made of over 3.3 million plastic bricks, but he also agreed to live in it. May stated, “I’m planning to stay there for two or three days, or until it falls down, whichever is sooner. I’m pretty relaxed about it, but will just have to be careful moving around. If I wake up buried under a pile of bricks, I’ll know it’s gone wrong”. Not only is the outside of this house covered in Legos, but so is the inside which is equipped with a kitchen, working bathroom (including running water, a toilet, and a hot shower), and a bedroom.
The “modern” bathroom
Kitchen with Lego appliances
May describes this as the “most uncomfortable” bed
This house even comes with pets!
Over 1,000 volunteers helped to build the 20 ft tall, multi-colored Lego house, which took 5 weeks to construct. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. After a disagreement with Legoland, who had originally agreed to move the Lego house to their facility, this magnificent creation had to be demolished.
Plans for Legoland to move it to their theme park fell through because transportation costs were too high and despite a final Facebook appeal for someone to take it, no one came forward. The Lego house was never intended to be left on the vineyard, in fact, they didn’t even have a planning permit for the house. The vineyard also needed the land back in order to harvest their grapes. May commented on the situation saying, “I’m very unhappy about it. I feel as if I’m having my arm twisted into saying “knock it down”. Knocking it down is just wrong on every level. It’s a really lovely thing, it would break the hearts of the 1,000 people who worked like dogs to build it.”
May had hoped an art gallery, a children’s home or a wealthy private collector might have come forward for the house. But anyone hoping to make money from it would have faced legal problems as Legoland has an exclusive licence to use the plastic bricks as a public attraction in Britain. Legoland, who seems to be the villian in this dilemma, are disappointed that May didn’t consult their builders in the design of the house in order to make it more portable. Legoland commented, saying “We considered all the options but due to cost, timings, logistics and planning permission, we have decided it would not be viable to move the structure to the park.”
The house was deconstructed on September 22, 2009. Luckily, most of the 3.3 million Legos used to build and furnish this childhood dream were donated to charity. Maybe May learned a lesson in planning, which is the only thing that led to its demise. It’s a shame that something couldn’t have been done to keep this amazing structure standing. Hopefully, the next time someone wants to build a house out of Legos it will be built on a spot where millions of people can enjoy if for years to come.