Residential Micropolis (part 3)


Over the past couple of posts we’ve built single family dwellings. Since Micropolis builders tend to focus on urban cores rather than the suburban sprawl, I’d be remiss not to explore apartment buildings and their ilk. This week I’ll build a four-story walk-up.

I’m already picturing a h-shaped building with front and back courtyards, masonry, and brightly contrasting window trim. I like to represent masonry by building with offset plates. I stockpile 1×2 plates for this purpose, often buying cup after cup of them when I can get them on the PaB wall.

This time, I’m using brown plates with some dark tan thrown in for texture. Using two or three closely related colors is a great way to give the build a bit of texture. Real world masonry often has a fair amount of color variation from brick to brick.


One of the things to watch out when plate building is distortion. The tolerances that allow the elements to interconnect smoothly, multiply faster when using plates (instead of bricks) and this can lead to warping in any number of directions. To help in this build, I used 1×4 plates to span across the interior of the model. They won’t be seen once the roof is on, but they help keep the whole thing square. You’ll also notice that I just turned my 1x2s on end instead of using 1x1s in most places. This saves my precious supply of 1x1s for better uses.


Just like my houses, I started by building the model on a foundation of larger gray plates. I’ve used headlight bricks in different orientations to represent both windows and doors (the different colors help keep them from confusing the eye). The striped awning over the entrance gives a nice bit of color to contrast with the flame orange windows.

Up top, I’ve added a bit of detail around the edge of the roof, with raised corners and clips to echo battlements. Finishing it off is the solar panels, my green city touch.


Around back, there is another door, with a smaller awning. I’ve also staggered the windows back here and I think it breaks up the regularity nicely.


The landscaping for this building if pretty simple. I’ve made wide concrete walkways in each courtyard, edged with greenery. Nothing fancy, just enough to show that there is landscaping. I was tempted to add a dumpster and a bit more of an alley, but the building’s footprint didn’t give me much room to work with.


With the building settled onto the site, the landscaping comes into context. I like how the two rows of bright green shrubbery draw the eye into the courtyard to the building’s front doors.

As a note, I regretted not building the model on the big plate from the start as soon as I tried to press it on. Those clips are a bit painful when I have to apply sufficient force to get all those plates tightly pressed down.


Seen from above, you can see how nicely the little building fills the available space. Each wing of the building is about 30 feet by 90 feet (4 studs by 12 studs). If each floor has two apartments in each wing, a 900 sq. ft. two bedroom in the back and a 1800 sq. ft. three bedroom in the front, then there are sixteen units in the building. Not the tightest use of space, but a believable little building.


I’m really enjoying this little building. It isn’t flashy or exciting, but it represents the kind of bread and butter buildings that make the urban landscape. A simple building like this helps make the rest of the modules work in a Micropolis layout.

In my next post, I’ll start building commercial buildings.

Keep building and enjoy!

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