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Building Homes of Tomorrow, brick by LEGO brick!
Hear from our Innovation Manager, Michelle Dawson, on how LEGO can be used to tell stories and prototype new ideas.
When you work in a very busy organisation and everybody is going a hundred miles an hour making decisions and spinning plates, it can seem frivolous to be spending a few hours building pretend houses out of LEGO bricks. But that’s exactly what the Innovation Team did for our recent exhibition, where we spent some time taking colleagues on a journey into what the future of housing could look like.
We used LEGO boards and bricks (and a child’s toy crane!) to describe the difference between traditionally built homes, and homes built to category one and two MMC (Mixed Methods of Construction).
I was sceptical about the LEGO houses. Would LEGO bricks really be able to tell the story we were hoping they would? Would people feel patronised or belittled by them? Was it worth the time and effort?
I needn’t have worried. The houses went down a treat, but not in the ways we initially expected. Here’s what we learned about using LEGO prototyping:
- People were drawn to the LEGO because it speaks its own universal language that everyone understands.
- Even our most technical development colleagues used the models to talk about the pros and cons of MMC. The models acted as a useful talking point and generated interesting discussion.
- The colleagues who were brand new to the subject found the visual representation really useful. Being able to see how bricks and wood panelling work together in real life was a revelation for people.
- It is fun and fun is important when you are encouraging creativity. We set up a LEGO table for colleagues to build their own prototypes and with some encouragement and a clear ‘you have permission to play with the LEGO’ sign, everyone got their hands on the bricks!
- Finding LEGO bricks that are all the same colour is hard! It’s not actually easy to get hold of random LEGO that isn’t designed to build something very specific. We had to use all our research skills to find enough grey bricks to build our MMC category one model.
Creating new ways to tell stories and prototype different ideas can feel like indulgence in such a busy organisation, but it is worth the investment. We would recommend every Innovation or Design team having a bucket of LEGO to hand.