The Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt is a contemporary complex of museums and archives, a planetarium, and of course, a library. This modern tribute to the Great Library of antiquity has been recreated from over 9,000 LEGO bricks by that master of microscale LEGO architecture Rocco Buttliere. Measuring nearly 2′ square, the model took around 60 hours to design, and 30 more to build. All Rocco’s effort was definitely worthwhile, as this creation captures the complex shapes of its inspiration perfectly. And it’s not just the central subject which provides a showcase of building skill — don’t miss the beautiful sweeping curve of that seafront road.
As with all of Rocco’s amazing LEGO microscale models it’s worth zooming in for a closer look at the detailing and depth of texture he manages to cram into a tight footprint. I spy some printed window panels from Dr Who’s Tardis deployed as solar panels…
Master LEGO architect Rocco Buttliere is no stranger to recreating massive landmarks in LEGO form. In the past he’s built Mount Rushmore, Vatican City, and even ancient Rome. But now he’s managed to top himself with what may be his largest project to date, a 1:650 scale city of Jerusalem as it appeared in the first century. Consisting of 114,000 pieces, this massive LEGO build is the result of over 500 hours of design time and 400 hours of build time.
This is a work you could truly get lost in, so let’s dive right into the details, starting with the Second Temple on Temple Mount in the center of the city.
Click through for a guided tour of some of the city’s highlights
Yes, over 800 hours! That’s a long time, for sure, but not as long as the Vatican has been around, and less time than Michelangelo spent painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, too; yet this is no less a piece of art. This huge and detailed build by Rocco Buttliere is the first to depict an entire country in a single LEGO build, which is quite the accomplishment. It helps that Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, but still, everything is here, from the enormous St. Peter’s to the Vatican Gardens, along with every other building inside Vatican City, like the local supermarket and post office.
Now, I’ve seen Rocco’s huge and detailed version of Ancient Rome (huge and detailed seems to be a running theme with Rocco, like his Forbidden City and even a shopping mall), but I’ve never been to Rome. However, I have seen many pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica and the famous square in front of it, and everyone has seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel’s interior. But this LEGO version includes so much detail, it’s like I’ve been there now. In his typical style, Rocco also gives copious information with each picture, evidence of the amount of time spent meticulously researching his subject matter.
Click to see more details of the world’s smallest country in small plastic bricks
Yes, you read the title correctly. Rocco Buttliere has used around 84,000 LEGO bricks, to be more precise. In addition to 300+ hours of building to recreate the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, Rocco also spent 400+ hours designing it first. If that doesn’t blow your mind, it should. That is one giant build of one of the world’s most spectacular architectural sites. Like his earlier LEGO diorama of Ancient Rome, Rocco built this one for a commission for a museum, and boy, does it belong there. The overview picture hardly does it justice, as it all blends together into a blur of flame orange, dark red, and grey, but zoom in and there are as many marvels as in the real deal. Fancy a tour? It’s not forbidden to look at this one, even for a commoner like me.
Check out the details of this incredible build
At first glance, this LEGO model of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai could be mistaken for the official set… wait, who am I kidding? there’s no possible way you could confuse this incredible model by Rocco Buttliere for the LEGO set made with only 333 pieces.
There are so many great details that I’m not sure where to start. How about with the inner ring at the base of the model, which uses circular roller-coaster tracks to create a faceted plaza between all three spurs of the building.
Rocco also creates large trees that match the look of the tiny trees made from green flower parts.
Along with the many stunning architectural details like the symmetrical recessed circular gardens, and the gently curving buildings along the edge of the model and the multiple sloped and terraced plazas, the three tapering spurs capture the look of this iconic landmark beautifully.
It is rare for a LEGO build to make my jaw drop and leave me drooling on my keyboard, but that is just what this stunning layout of Imperial Rome by Rocco Buttliere did. I have a Master’s degree in Classics, primarily in the Latin language, and so anything and everything Roman is right up my via, but there is a lot of great information to learn in the descriptions of the photos, even for one with an advanced degree in a tangential field. In fact, I could spend hours looking through all the pictures, and have already spent the better part of one skimming through the descriptions. It is fascinating stuff. And the build! It is huge, about 1×2 meters in size, with 66,000 bricks going into its construction. And not one is wasted or superfluous. So let’s take a brief tour of the Eternal City, shall we?
See more of this masterpiece of LEGO architecture
When laying out my list of things I would love to build someday from LEGO bricks, a shopping mall would be far down the list. Just kidding, it would not make the list. Malls are good for one thing, in my opinion, and that is serving as locations for LEGO stores. However, if a shopping mall wanted someone to build a LEGO version of it, and was paying for it, I’d be all over that. And that is what happened for architectural wizard Rocco Buttliere. He built this stunning layout of the Hawthorn Mall, showing the expansion that they are planning to do with mixed use commercial/residential units. It looks sleek and epic, and dare I say sexy, despite being a mall.
See details of the mall below
Good LEGO microscale buildings manage to capture the essence of their subject, but the very best also trick the eye into looking much bigger than they really are. Rocco Buttliere showcases his skills once more, this time tackling the UNESCO-listed Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
The real thing took 140 years to complete and is a masterpiece of Italian Gothic. Rocco’s version is a masterpiece of microscale, standing maybe only 20 bricks high, but somehow feeling much larger. That’s a testament to the level of detail packed into the model, the result of studs-in and studs-out building, and a great selection of parts, including two types of turntable bases, grille tiles, tooth bricks, Technic pins, and lightsaber hilts. Match all that with a beautifully captured dome, and a smart colour scheme, and you end up with a LEGO church which is fully worth of your praise.
Since the disastrous fire on April 15th, many LEGO fans have built their own renditions of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. It comes as no surprise that the best rendition I’ve seen was built by Rocco Buttliere. Rocco, who has a penchant for recreating famed architectural landmarks of the world, got to work on this one immediately following the fire.
Not only did he build the cathedral itself, but he accurately reproduced the landscape around it: remove the building and this creation would still be a masterpiece. The curves of the river and roadways, the textured ground and gardens. I’m especially fond of the little details, like the old hinge tile used as bollards – magnifique! While the surroundings are definitely beautiful, we can’t ignore the church itself. While I might be satisfied to just recreate the shape of the building, Rocco has carefully detailed the structure’s ornate detail. Everything is here, from Gothic arches and rose windows to buttresses and even gargoyles. This is achieved through skillful use of the LEGO parts palette, using a wide variety of old and new pieces of all different types: Technic elements, textured bricks, and minifigure accessories. With this creation, Rocco has built a fitting tribute this wonderful landmark truly deserves.
If you enjoyed this, check out Rocco’s other amazing creations we’ve highlighted, such as the entire Thames waterfront of London.
Aptly named The Spiral, the towering extension of the elevated park High Line in Midtown Manhattan will be a stunning blend of modern architecture and green space when finished. While the real building is currently under construction, Rocco Buttliere has completed a LEGO version that uses an incredible amount of transparent clear and blue plates. I love the way the builder has alternated the orientation of the plates along the greenway to reflect the open-aired areas, drawing the outdoors in.
The Spiral has been designed by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group, who also designed the LEGO House museum in Billund
Located in South Dakota and finished in 1941, Mount Rushmore is one of the most iconic U.S. monuments. It depicts the busts of four famous American presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s an excellent candidate for modeling in LEGO, such as this beautiful microscale layout built by Rocco Buttliere. Rocco has gone the extra mile by building the visitor center, rows of state flags, and the surrounding terrain. It’s a sight to behold, and I bet it looks even more impressive in person.
See more of this tiny monument