Parthenon in Lego

The 2004 summer Olympics were in Athens, I am fascinated with architecture and ancient buildings, my summer's vacation in 2004 was particularly rainy, and I have a Lego hobby. Those things together resulted in this little project: a model of Parthenon in Lego.

The model is not of the ruins of today, but an attempt to recreate the building in its ancient glory. I built it in an approximate scale of 1:240, the smallest I could manage without sacrificing too much detail and distort the beautiful proportions of the temple. My first attempt was a 1:120 version, but that became quite large and too expensive for me to build on my own budget, without having significantly more detail.

This small design is of course a lot less detailed than the actual historic building. However, I tried my best to render what I could in this small scale, and the general structure and the proportions are quite accurately reproduced. Proportions were very important design aspects to ancient Greek architects. The integer proportions 4:6:9 appear everywhere in the real building, and to some extent I have kept that in my Lego version. The final design is still a pretty complex build with well over 1000 pieces, with lots of 1x1 rounds and 1x1 plates.

The model has reasonably accurate interior detail. All the main features of the structure are there, to the extent that I could find references on the Web, and the design opens up to provide a good view of the inside.

In this scale, the Athena statue in the middle of the temple (in ancient texts reported to be about 12 meters tall) is approximately the size of a standard Lego figure or "minifig". The Athena statue I placed inside the temple is of course not very accurate, but I did give her a golden shield and made a feeble attempt at a hint of a winged Nike in her right hand.

The model was first designed on a computer using the software MLCad (see and then built in real life, after I shopped around for the parts I needed.

Note that my choice of colors were partly constrained by my budget and the availability of parts, so the color scheme is not entirely true to the original building. I also wanted to avoid a purely monochrome design, since that tends to be a bit boring visually.

As a tribute to the computer graphics movie of the Parthenon, directed by Paul Debevec and released at Siggraph 2004, here is a page with images of a Lego version of Paul documenting the ambient light at the site of this Lego Parthenon.

Lego model and web page created by Stefan Gustavson, August 2004.