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May 17, Legoland (the 4th of its kind) opened its doors in Günzberg, Bavaria, allowing visitors to look at the over 50 million pieces of Lego that make up the "raw material" for its strikingly believable models (they include models of buildings ,characters, animals...).


LEGOLAND Each and every model one finds in the four Legoland parks (Denmark, England, California, and now Günzburg) is "born" at Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark.
Eighty creative minds got together since 1999 to plan, conceive, and carry out the Günzburg project. Long before the first bricks were put in place, a lot of preliminary work had to be done.
To begin with, the object on which the model is based is carefully studied. For example, if a building is being modelled, the designers will take photos from every imaginable angle in order to have as much detailed information as possible available at their disposal.

The designers often consult cadastral plans and altitude photographs of the building before they draw their own plans which are used for the construction of the models. For the trickier parts of a building such as the dome, they use a computer program specifically designed for Lego.

The next step is to determine the number of pieces needed for the model as well as their shape and colour. Ordinarily, the pieces are stocked in a warehouse, but if a model requires pieces that are particularly difficult or impossible to construct with those already in stock, the designer will create a prototype that he will then construct piece by piece. All the units of the model are stuck together so that their longevity is assured. Upon completion, the model is sent to Legoland Günzberg by truck, either in one piece or divided into parts.


LEGOLAND Let's take a look at the model of the Reichstag presented at Miniland, one of the seven areas that make up Legoland Günzburg. It is made with 1.7 million blocks of LEGO; the black-headed gull perched on its roof only uses five. Everything, however, is done with the utmost care and attention to detail.

Ilja Schüler, an erstwhile wholesale dealer, is one of the initiates behind this strange model. When Lego approached Schüler to lead the construction and maintenance of the models at Legoland Günzburg along with two others, it was a dream come true for him. "For the designers there is even more work once the park is opened: we continue to develop new models while at the same time maintain the upkeep of those already in place," says Schüler. The designers are not required to have any training in architecture or engineering : imagination, precision, and artistic and technical mastery is enough.

Miniland is a small world all its own. Life takes place at 1/20th its usual scale, with traffic in the streets, barges on rivers, trains on railways, people going about daily life, lights coming on at night...Stefan Gasner is in charge of all these special effects.
It took this first rate electrician two years to complete the programming of Miniland. To créate this lively world full with noise, light, and mouvement,100 kilometers of wire were used. And although Legoland Günzburg is closed every year at the end of October until Easter, those in charge of this small world have no such vacation : the houses and buildings are cleaned and covered with sheets to protect them from the winter, the miniature waterways of Miniland are drained, and all the figurines, cars, trains, and boats are counted and stocked.

For a visit of the park, look at our column "New Parks in 2002"



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