It was summer, 2015. At the end of K’s arm, was her hand, which was gripping a heavy metal hammer – And that was the end of the old brick wall. Below you can see how things were looking after the first few taps with the hammer.
For a few months, space inhabited the former site of the wall. Whilst there was nothingness outside, our brains were full of ideas for a new wall. Concrete, a row of plants, pebble-filled metal cages, or ‘something’ covered in copper were all considered … and dismissed. This was after trying to find a builder who would just rebuild the brick wall with (ordinary) bricks. We thought we had hit gold, when we came across a company who make large scale plastic building blocks (thanks H, for sending us the idea). These were roughly the size of breeze blocks, came in a number of colours and locked together in a similar way to Lego® bricks. However, the company was based in New York and hadn’t really got their UK distribution sorted out. And of course, it was ‘super urgent’ to get on and build a wall (what would the neighbours think!)
Then the wall idea finally clicked into place. Why not build it with actual Lego® bricks? This would give us a range of colours to choose from and a lot of control over the final size and shape. AND we both had plenty of experience working with this building material. So, in November 2015, we ordered the first of what would become many mixed boxes of Lego®, mostly from Ebay. The process of sorting bricks from other parts became second nature and we can now spot ‘fake’ bricks at some distance. It also provided the opportunity to build most of the wall in the comfort of our living room.
FACT: It is believed there are the equivalent of approximately 30,000 4×2 bricks in the wall.
We both really liked the look of mixed up colours … random patterns, but decided it would be a bit much, for what is quite a traditional looking square of houses. So we decided on blue as the predominant colour and added a Victorian style pattern in white. The back would have the mix of colours and the side of the posts would blend from blue to mixed colour. For mixed colour, we would stick with standard colours (red, yellow, blue, green, white and black). With the ground rules set, we started building separate blocks, which would form the final wall.
FACT: There is a hidden slide inside the wall, allowing courageous Lego® stunt-people to pass at high speed, from one side of the wall to the other. See the video at the end of this page …
After many deliveries of bricks, it turned out that blue and white are probably the worst colours to try and get in bulk. There are, at least in our experience, less blue bricks than the other colours, in a random mixed set of Lego® … and white bricks are often discoloured. Still, we pressed on and once we had about half the wall complete, we prepared the outside space and installed the first row. This was made harder by having to leave a stepped surface from the original wall, which meant the front side of the wall is on a stepped surface, but the rear is straight down to the ground. If you try and build a wall like this, we would definitely recommend starting on a surface that is the same height all the way along :).
We decided to use concrete to make the wall ‘heavier’ and not to use glue to fasten the bricks together, as it seemed at odds with the nature of the building material (and very time consuming). We had help from ‘L’ in making sure everything was level, and so, in a relatively short space of time, we had the base of the wall installed.
FACT: Blue and white bricks are the worst two colours for fading in sunlight.
We had saved up lots of plates for the lid. These had to be fastened with solvent, for the lid sections to be strong enough. Our initial lid design for the posts turned out to be too ‘extravagant’ to use for the whole wall, so we designed a simple stepped lid made from the thin plates. The post lids fitted like a dream, but the wall had been standing for too long, with too much concrete, to be perfectly true, so a little ‘unlegolike’ manipulation was necessary. As I write in October 2018, with the wall just revealed, there are a few small gaps to fill. But it’s a good looking wall!
Must say thanks to our local Post Office, for handling the dispatch of all the bricks we’ve resold … and to the various couriers and postpeople who’ve delivered boxes and boxes …
FACT: Two very small workpersons continue to ponder the narrow gaps in the wall’s ‘lid’.