Industrial Micropolis (part 1)


Every city has a dirty side, where all the warehouses and factories and such live. Since I’ve already built a fair amount of residential and commercial buildings, it’s time to turn my attention toward industrial zones. I’ll get things started with a wrecking yard.


I’ll use a half-block for this model (which feels like about the least that I’ll need to do it justice). Since the layout, with stacks of cars and heavy machinery is a bit complicated, I’ll sketch this one out. I kept it simple with a 1:1 ratio of squares to studs.


Using the sketch as a guide, I lay out the lot. Sand yellow makes a great dry, packed earth. I’ve provided studs everywhere that I’m planning on attaching things and used haphazard tiles (and a few jumpers) everywhere else. This should give the dirt lot look that I’m going for.


In one corner of the lot, I built a windowless pile of cinder blocks. This building isn’t supposed to be pretty, just a utilitarian place for an office/warehouse. The transparent cheeses are a bit over the top as skylights on this tiny building, but they give it a bit of eccentricity.


Next up is a crane. I’m picturing something that once had wheels, but now sits on top of a rusty frame and lets the work come to it. This poor thing looks a bit too bright for the job, but I kept it to gray tones and construction yellow. I wanted more of an open platform underneath, but I couldn’t think of any easy way, so I used the textured round instead. The crane is sitting on a round jumper so that it can swivel all around.


The yard wouldn’t be complete without a car crusher. I build one that is way too big, but I really wanted all the details. This has great vents and shiny pistons and looks like it could crush a school bus.


I built the crusher with studs on the bottom and then used one of these washers to provide an anti-stud. This has the double benefit of making it look cooler and allowing it to be attached at an angle (using a jumper).


Once the crusher is attached, the pair is complete. We have a way to get rid of unwanted cars. Now we just need some wrecks to feed into the machine.


The stacks of cars were a lot of fun to build. I played with the basic cars that I’ve built before, substituting or omitting elements to stand in for damage. The result has a great texture.


At first I tried to build the stacks without attaching them, figuring that I would wait until they were all done. I found that it was much more satisfying to place each stack as I finished it. This made it easier to sculpt the chaos, making sure that it looked pleasingly random.


Next, I put a fence around it. My original plan was to pony-ear the grills on their ends, giving me a taller fence with vertical slats. This worked great until I got to the corners. Since the thickness varies on the end of a grill, the only way for them to get clutch between two studs to be centered. With so little flexibility, I couldn’t figure out a way to do the corners without leaving unpleasant gaps.

In the end, I laid them on side and offset them as necessary at the corners. A little color variation and it looks great.


One of the last details that I added was an RV in a smaller yard. I can just picture the slovenly proprietor living back there, a king in his rusting castle. Those transparent plates really sell the RV model for me, especially with the stripe of color running down the middle. I used a similar technique in one of my residential modules.


The addition of streets adds a great framing, helping all of the colors to really shine. You’ll notice that I didn’t add the usual sidewalks (a deviation from the standard). This is the kind of place where I just picture dirt along the side of the road. In my experience, sidewalks are usually inconsistent in industrial neighborhoods, appearing and disappearing from lot to lot.

The overall module turned out great and I can’t wait to see it in a city. I still have to add the rest of the base, but that won’t really get seen once it’s in a layout.


From above, you can see the whole lot better. Stacks of cars in rows and heavy machinery in the middle. The extra hollow studs give the otherwise smooth yard some nice pock marks for texture. Looking at it now, I realize that I never build a tow truck, so that will have to get added at some point.

Check back next week for more industrial.

Keep building and enjoy!

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