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Westminster Abbey, London
This model consists of approximately 4,900 pieces.
About this creation
The Westminster World Heritage Site covers more than twenty-five acres in Central London and includes three historically and culturally significant buildings; Palace of Westminster (background), Saint Margaret's (middle left) & Westminster Abbey (foreground). The significance of these structures is unquestionable as each of their storied complexes consists of buildings ranging in age from 200 to 1,200 years old.

I first visited the UK in 2015 for BRICK Live in London, the event for which I built my Palace of Westminster model. While I was visiting the site in London, I ended up spending far more time exploring Westminster Abbey and its cloisters since it was the only building on-site with largely unfettered public access to its interior. It was the view looking up at the towers from behind the arches and beyond the garth of the cloisters that gave me the idea that if I was ever fortunate enough to return to the UK for a second show, Westminster Abbey would be the new model I bring with me. I'm happy to say that this dream is being realized as I'll be heading back to the UK next week with close to fifty models in tow for back-to-back BRICK Live shows in Glasgow and London!

This model has been blogged on:
ArchBrick
The Brothers Brick
BrickNerd

More photos on Brickshelf

See also: Palace of Westminster model


The designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site is a title few natural and man-made landmarks around the world hold. The buildings of the Westminster World Heritage Site have remained continuously occupied and have stayed relatively consistent to their original purposes since the tenth century CE. Though most of the buildings have been rebuilt at one point or another, their profound and lasting influence on cultural and architectural trajectories the world over are indisputable.


Westminster Abbey is a large, Gothic abbey church located in Central London across the street from the Palace of Westminster. Formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, the church served as a cathedral between 1540 and 1556. Since 1560, however, it has been classified as neither an abbey nor cathedral, but instead, classified as a Church of England Royal Peculiar- responsible directly to the sovereign. Indeed, Westminster Abbey has hosted every coronation of British and English monarchs since that of William the Conqueror in 1066, and regularly hosts royal weddings as well; the most recent of which was the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

The west face of the church is known for its distinctive twin towers overlooking the courtyard before them. The towers rise to pinnacle heights of 225 ft.





The northwest tower (left) houses ten bells within its belfry and are only chimed for special occasions and services. The tower also features a distinctive four-faced clock, the design of which I had printed on 1x1 round, dark blue tiles, similar to the clock faces of Big Ben. The printing was, once again, carried out flawlessly by the folks at BrickPrinter.




Though it is thought to have been founded as early as 960, construction of the current Gothic abbey started during the reign of Henry III and lasted from 1245 to 1517. The only architect/master mason credited with the construction during this period is Henry de Yevele, who was largely responsible for finishing construction during the reign of Richard II. It wasn't until the early eighteenth century that the visionary urban planner Sir Christopher Wren proposed that the Abbey be completed with the addition of the towers at the front of the nave. Surveyor Nicholas Hawksmoor and his successor John James oversaw much of the work for this final phase, and the project was finally completed in 1745, more than five centuries after construction of King Henry III's Abbey commenced.

When I first began designing this model, I started with the flying buttresses that line the exterior enclosures along the nave and transepts. Having not yet designed a model of a Medieval Gothic building up to this point, I knew I would need to capture the scale of the buttresses convincingly enough since they are undoubtedly one of the most memorable aspects of any Medieval building. I ended up using a combination of 1x2 "space wing" plates for the tapering columns, connected to 1x1 flower plates for ornamentation of the various saints which adorn the buttresses, topped by a 1-stud technic pin and unicorn horn, over which a technic engine connecting rod is slid, forming the flying buttress that spans from the outer column to the inner wall of the nave.

In all my models, I strive for a harmony of form vs. function through my thoughtful and purposeful parts usage. I am especially happy with how the flying buttresses turned out, as they serve the form of the model by visually capturing the intended architectural element, while also serving the function of the model, as the ball connector on the end of the piece becomes the means to which the steeply sloped roof of the nave is attached to the model.

The Church of Saint Margaret, is the Anglican Church for the House of Commons, and is named for Margaret of Antioch, an apocryphal heroine of the third century CE. The church was founded by Benedictine monks in the twelfth century so that local people could worship separately at their own parish. Similar to Westminster Abbey, St Margaret's has been rebuilt since its original founding and still holds services today.


The apse of the Abbey is lined with several circular chapels which run along the edge of the ambulatory within. At the tip of the apse, a longer chapel, known as Henry VII's Chapel, extends out toward Abingdon Street.

The parts usage throughout this area of the model was particularly challenging and enjoyable to work through. Having been inspired by Markus Rollbühler's model of St. Basil's Cathedral, I knew the the perfect piece for the circular chapels would be the Hero Factory weapon barrels, topped by the flick-shooter barrels with stud receptacles on top. The inverted stud receptacles provided points at which I could place the necessary elements for the radiating flying buttresses, which are then tucked beneath the roof above. The semicircular roof above the apse ended up being the perfect place to use a crocodile head to cap it all off!


The marble statue overlooking Abingdon Street is that of King George V, who is Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather.

Behind the statue, is the Chapel of Henry Vll. In the model, I used black technic treads to form the ornate clerestory windows just below the roof of the chapel.



The Jewel Tower (foreground) is a surviving annex to the original royal Palace of Westminster. The tower was built between 1365 and 1366 under the direction of Henry de Yevele and William of Sleaford. Surrounded by a moat that extends from the River Thames, it was originally built to house the treasure of Edward III. Today, the building is open daily to tourists.


The Chapter House is an octagonal building with a dramatic vaulted roof, supported by flying buttresses and a single central column on the inside. Built in 1250 by royal masons, the Chapter House was originally used for the daily meetings of the Benedictine Monks. After the thirteenth century, it became the meeting place of the King's Great Council and the commons, predecessors to today's Parliament.

In the model, the Chapter House has an internal structure consisting of 2x2 octagonal bar frames, which make up the sheer walls and flying buttresses. The vaulted roof is built using four claw elements with bars closing the gaps between each one.

The Cloisters of the Abbey surround a landscaped quadrangle. The flying buttresses along the north edge of the quadrangle are double stacked to allow for larger windows at ground level.





Looking down at the Cloisters from the southwest tower.








With some notable exceptions, many kings and queens have been buried in Westminster Abbey. It is considered one of Britain’s greatest honors for non-royalty to be interred at the Abbey. National figures known for their significant contributions to their fields have been buried here, including Sir Isaac Newton in 1727 and Charles Darwin in 1882.




A view from above shows the cross-shaped plan of the Abbey. Various architectural terms are used to describe the orientation of Medieval cathedrals, the most notable of which are:

the narthex - the lobby area at the main entrance at the foot of the towers

the nave - the long, processional lower extension of the cross

the transept - the two "arms" of the cross which run perpendicular to the nave, outward from the altar

the apse - the upper, often semicircular segment of the cross, which usually houses various chapels behind the altar.

Parliament Square is known for its various statues of notable historical figures. From right to left, the statues depict Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Jan Smuts, Palmeston, Edward Smith-Stanley, Disraeli, Robert Peel and Nelson Madela. Across the street, though not modeled here, are also statues of George Canning and Abraham Lincoln.



One of my favorite views, the most famous towers of the three principal buildings in the Westminster World Heritage Site in one shot!


Aerial view looking down.


One final view!



Comments

 I like it 
  July 18, 2017
Awesome job as always, you make me feel as though I have been there just by viewing your models. Good luck, have a safe trip, YOU ARE THE GREATEST Dad.
  July 17, 2017
beautiful small scale model
 I like it 
  July 16, 2017
well done, as always! the devil is in the details in Gothic architecture, and you've captured it beautifully in an impressively minute scale. fantastic roofing technique above the chapter house. I'm also a big fan of the arches in the cloisters, and all the buttress designs. excellent work!
 I like it 
  July 16, 2017
Just fantastic.
 I like it 
  July 15, 2017
As the french would say: "Incroyable!" Your attention to detail, and ability to capture it at this scale is truly impressive!! Have fun displaying this masterpiece in England!
 I made it 
  July 15, 2017
Quoting --R.K. Blast-- Wow! Stunning work! Living in the UK and having visited London on numerous occasions, this is phenomenal! I'm going to Brick Birmingham this year, which is a shame, being the only one you're not visiting! Haha! --Blast--
Seems like I'll just miss you then!
Quoting Ben Cossy Haha knew it was you the moment I saw the thumbnail. Great work dude. Amazing detail. I love how you do your roads. Great to meet you at Brickworld btw :)
Good to know I have a signature style :) Good to meet you too!
Quoting James Y. A wonderfully detailed micro-scale build. Excellent work.
Thank you!
Quoting Mark Kelso Beautiful work, as always! Some phenomenal parts usage in particular, but it's a lovely design all around. Safe travels, and best of luck with the UK venues.
Thanks a lot, Mark! It's too bad we've never had a chance to meet!
Quoting Justin Li Amazing parts usage everywhere. I'm still trying to figure out how it's even possible to make Westminster Abbey so detailed at that scale.
Haha, the 1x1 flower plates in light bluish-gray were a real lifesaver with the details in this model!
 I like it 
  July 15, 2017
Wow! Stunning work! Living in the UK and having visited London on numerous occasions, this is phenomenal! I'm going to Brick Birmingham this year, which is a shame, being the only one you're not visiting! Haha! --Blast--
 I like it 
  July 14, 2017
Haha knew it was you the moment I saw the thumbnail. Great work dude. Amazing detail. I love how you do your roads. Great to meet you at Brickworld btw :)
 I like it 
  July 14, 2017
A wonderfully detailed micro-scale build. Excellent work.
 I like it 
  July 14, 2017
Beautiful work, as always! Some phenomenal parts usage in particular, but it's a lovely design all around. Safe travels, and best of luck with the UK venues.
 I like it 
  July 14, 2017
Amazing parts usage everywhere. I'm still trying to figure out how it's even possible to make Westminster Abbey so detailed at that scale.
 
By Rocco Buttliere
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Westminster Abbey, London


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