The Arcology Project


As I explore the Lego world, poring over images of conventions, I am constantly impressed with the size and quality of collaborative builds. Recently, our PortLUG Lego Ambassador suggested that we might want to do more group builds and grow our presence at conventions. I started floating some ideas in my head and building prototypes until I settled on a standard that I dubbed ‘Arcology.’

The goal of the Arcology standard is to allow the construction of minifig-scale sci-fi cities that are both vertical and horizontal. Last year, Brolug put on a huge modular cyberpunk city display. I remember reading that they had done so but defining cubic modules that would be able to fit together. Using that rough concept, I started thinking about how to do something similar.

I decided on 16 stud cubes (meaning 40 plates high), since 16×16 plates are not too uncommon and could form a stable base. Each cube would stack on top of the module below and be connected to the modules on either side with technic pins at each corner. This gives four points of connection in any direction.

In these samples, I’ve highlighted the mandatory connection points in yellow. Notice that the bottom corners will need to mate with the jumpers of the module below as they stack.

If each module is a ‘corner’ then four could be clustered to form a single layer of a tower. Around each level, a walkway can be connected by technic pins via the cubes’ unused connections. Towers might begin to get unstable if they are more than six levels high, so excess modules could be formed into additional towers or even 4×4 towers with hollow centers. This would allow the arcology to scale to nearly any size, though I think that a minimum of about two dozen cubes would be a good start.

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I’ve built three modules (pictured at the beginning of the post) so far to play with the concept. Two of them are single cube modules and one of them is a two cube (tall) module. I suspect that most ambitious modules will be more than a single cube, but by keeping the cube to 16 studs, we keep the barrier to entry low. A single cube module should be a reasonable build even for AFOLs with a limited supply of bricks and time.

Now that I have these built, I am going to turn my attention to developing a standard for the walkways that stretch around the modules, acting as pedestrian thoroughfares. Adding colorful street scenes will breathe life into the arcology.

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I have created a flickr group for the project, where interested parties can see sample modules and builders can display their work. As I finalize the standard, I’ll add resources to my website (LDD files and a pdf of the standard).

I’d love to have enough interest to put up a single 24 cube tower at BrickCon in October. If that doesn’t seem likely, then I’ll shift my goal to Bricks Cascade in spring.

Throw me some feedback in comments and let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “The Arcology Project

    1. It’s minifig scale. I’m working on a more thorough description right now. I’ve gotten a little hung up on how to make walkways consistent and easy, but then I’ll start finishing up the wip modules that I’ve been posting on flickr.

  1. Hi, interested total stranger here. If I’m not in PortLUG but will be at BrickCon, can I build something for this collaboration? It looks/sounds awesome after reading this post and seeing pictures on Flickr, and I think it could catch on more generally…

    1. Sadly, I think this project might be on hold. I don’t have anything ready for BrickCon. I might give it another try for Bricks Cascade in the spring.

  2. Huh, I’ve got a couple prepared for BrickCon, so it’s a shame there’s not a bunch more expected, especially since mine are quite lackluster. Guess I’ll have to keep working on them for Cascade!

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