MOC: New Century City Block II

 This is the New Century City Block II. It gets posted before Block I because the photos are better (this is 64x96 studs so I can rotate it on my balcony "studio"), it's completely new (New Century Corner amounts 40% of Block I) and hell, I'm more happy with it overall. Block I is photographed too, but the photos are not edited yet and I wasn't able to photograph it as a whole from all angles, so it's not as impressive, probably. But you'll see it sooner or later. In addition to that, I have detached house "Villa Great-Agano" photographed, and a vintage tram finished but not yet photographed (needs a base though. My first serious train MOC, by the way.) And then there's one Finnish avant-garde rock band that still needs some amps, monitors, wires, drum microphones and stuff. I'm making a trip to Europe (Italy-Germany-Czech-Germany-Denmark-Sweden-Turku) from 16th of may onwards, and I try to post some more before that. Time will tell what - past are the twice-a-week activities of this blog, but I have less free time these days (though my four-month summer holiday just started so...) and my projects are more ambitious and physically bigger than they used to be. I try to keep the quality up.

And then to the MOC.

It continues where City Block I left. So now, for you, there's a little gap with my development as a modular house builder. I hope you can cope with that. I began building in July 2017, after receiving a mixed bag of elements from LUG event support reward package from a LUG event on Harjavalta (Palikkapamaus 2017). It has lots of bright light orange 1x2x3 sloped and some 1x8 railing pieces, and these beautifully coloured bits combined with inspiration I had gathered from Prague, Vienna and Ljubljana.

I began building new modulars. Well, honestly the first sort-of station plan was from May, drawn in a train from Helsinki to Tampere, instantly after the trip. It showed some more-interesting-than-90-degree angles that made it to the final creation. I have to confess that my original impressions were more Central European, somehow closer to classical themes and included quite lot of white, but with time they were replaced by joyous originality of Finnish Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) elements and shapes. But the first building - Grand Hotel Masaryk - has a very strong source of inspiration in Prague.

Grand Hotel Masaryk

This one was the first building to be designed on this block, and probably took most time, despite being smaller than its tan neighbour. The sort-of-paragon for this is Hotel Evropa (or Europa) in Václavské náměstí in Prague. I like Prague very much, it's original, rugged and very rich in architecture and common weirdness, as it didn't suffer very badly from WW2. Art Nouveau architecture there has strong influences from Viennese Secession, but also sports its own ambience. Grand Hotel Evrope (which is, alas, currently under heavy repair and closed) has a delightful composition of colours, materials and statues.

The colours and the main shape with rounded facade and gambrel roof are taken from Evropa, but the details are of my own design, featuring what could be whipped up with my collection of bright light orange. The colours and strictly arranged; No sand green touches the orange. There's always at least a plate-thin layer of dark red in between. Because my main source of bright light orange was 1x2x3 slopes, large part of this is built sideways (SNOT!). It was very fragile during building (in other words, for several months) but I was able to bind it nicely in the end. Lot of 2:5 rule is applied here! The sand green windows are for LUGBULK; In the big middle window they are actually upside down.

On details, I'm particularly happy with the canopy over main door and the angled ladder pieces on ground floor windows (The other one shows mold holes, sadly). I also like the bright colours, as its neighbours are more toned-down. Yellow is rather common colour in Art Nouveau Architecture, but using regular yellow feels bit odd as it's minifig's skin colour, and too bright nevertheless. So I do what I can with my limited array of light yellow (old variant!) and bright light orange. And by the way, the medium azure accents were a late addition - I feared they would be too bright, but I think they fit snugly with dark red, sand green and bright light orange.

Tomás Garrigue Masaryk was, by the way, Czech politician, statesman, philosopher and sociologist. 


The biggest and most prominent building on the block is Olofslott. The original inspiration derives from Camillo Sitte's urban planning theories from late 19th century, fitting for New Century City Block here. Sitte liked medieval town plans and wanted to see more than a simple grid plans - interesting angles and richness of views. Well, this is just a building with large sections angled 45 degrees, but with trickiness of the blocky brick, at least it's something... 
Concerning architecture, the first paragon was Imatra State Hotel by Usko Nyström, one of the more important building of Finnish Art Nouveau. Another, and later on more influential one, is Olofsborg, apartment building in Katajanokka by famous Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen. The turret-like bay window on the right corner of the main facade is almost a copy of one in Olofsborg. Large glass domes don't really exist in Finnish Art Nouveau (probably due to snow and heating) and the details in the pediment are unusually detailed, but otherwise this is not that far from Finnish apartment building from 1900s. 
The construction has some tricks. It's built on two bases, one being 32x64 and other around 32x40. The building splits on the right side of the main jetty. The angled parts are anchored at the gateway next to the Grand Hotel Masaryk on the 32x64 module and at the round-windowed tower on the 32x40ish module. It's not prefect fit, illegal to be honest, but as the angled part is rather long, it stays together alright. I hope the impression is interesting.

On details, fantastic 1x1 pie slice slopes make an appearance, along with some new-ish lovely macaroni tiles (I need more) and tail pieces (always cool). The pediment also uses old roof construction pieces - I like those, too, pleasure to use them. Also made it easy to make the roof with helicopter blade pieces (which are cheap) without leaving any gaps.

Colour-wise, it's mostly tan, as it is a realistic colour for house like this, and I had lot of it. Windows are black (from LUGBULK) as well and most of the roof. There are some grey details and the usual stone cladding on the ground floor. There is also some dark green - I felt it needed an interesting accent colour. It began with the glass dome that has those almost Catalonian Modernismo-esque tail beams. They add a feeling of organity of Art Nouveau to the otherwise monumental tower. Dark green accents thoughout the building are more than less curved. The dome roof above the big round window had been sailing around my table at the beginning, I'm glad I managed to use it here.


Louhi, building number three, clearly gets its inspiration from Finnish national romantic architecture. Use of natural stone, a techique called squared rubble, was pioneered in United States in late 19th century and soon arrived to Finland. Finnish was a Grand Dutchy of Russia at the time, and was undergoing a period of cultural oppression.It felt important to have glorious past, or at least a some sort of past, so artist and architects of the time took inspiration from national epic Kalevala and designed buildings of natural stone, wood and metal, usually copper. That wasn't very historical, as traditional and medieval Finnish architecture was almost always, save few castles and churches, wooden, and thus far from squared rubble palaces. But the era saw birth of many beautiful buildings, two which are main sources here: The Old Poli (House of Polytechnics) by Thóme brothers and my local Tampere Cathedral, the most important work of the style, by Lars Sonck.

The rope bridge entrance was here from the beginning, and the studs-out plate walls to represent natural stone was the main idea. It makes this a cheap house, as very small amout of bricks are needed. It also made it possible to make some curves hard to get with usual brick-on-brick construction. Naturally the rugged surface is the main point, though, and how it contrasts the neighbours. I wondered if the audiences would accept it - it felt daring idea, even reckless! But feedback so far had been positive.

The window design is very Finnish, with no arch but steep, inverted wedges on the top, and little frames on the top part (sadly no glass there). The bigger window on the wider side brings some unformality of Jugendstil, and the narrow side boosts some oddties like round window stolen from Patrick B. Bag End

The roof uses cheese slopes to represent shingles, a common roof material at the time and fitting for natinal romantic style. The roof or the tower was problematic. I first tried to make it similar to one in Old Poli, a round type with Lowell sphere technique, but it didn't work so well on 8x8. Somehow and ended up with very sharp and tall spire, definitely inspired by the Tampere cathedral. There'r even a copper top (I like sand green). It has quite a cool and suprisingly sturdy construction utilising couple of dice pieces and brick hinges. I like it.

Name Louhi comes from Kalevala, where she is the main antagonist.

House of Masonry Wall

The last house built for this project. This one has its root on national romatiscm, too - in the Finnish National Museum by aforementioned Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen, the star trio of Finnish Jugendstil. The main shape of the tower is taken from there, only the material are switched. I wanted to use dark red masonry bricks. I had already used some of them on unpublished buildings of Block I, but had plenty of left. I had also LUGBULKed some dark red 1x1 round bricks, and used ol' good curved wall technique to bring it alove. I used all my sand green windows, too, and almost all of the masonry bricks (I had bough 1000).

The building is somewhat more rational and modern than its neighbours. Statues are used to make it more suitable for the era. The ground floor has big windows with wooden arches - sadly no interior inside (There is none. No back walls or floor, neither). The doorway forecasts 1920s Classism, but the door is still strongly romantic with heavy iron mountings and organic handle probably not visible in any of the photos (black elephant trunk if you wonder). I like the little detail of posable clock hands and the window frames on the tower.

The roofs were tricky in this one. I finally managed to gather six 2x2x3 convex slopes in black and used them on the tower roof; Sadly they don't go all way around (they're rare). The round bit, however, took some thinking. I had some big round pieces, UFO quarters or something, but they didn't fit (The round wall isn't symmetric; there's three windows on the left and foru on the right). So I curved a rigid hose there and made some wedges with 1x2x3 slopes. they don't fit perfectly, but look ok - it's the best I came up with. I'm not big fan of studs on the top, but I didn't enough black tiles; pain to photoshop, those studs, too.

 So that's it for this one! This might end up to Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere with Block I if they have fitting fibreglass case for it; I hope it does, because it is impossible to keep thing like this in my apartment, on whole and on display. Overall, I'm happy with it. Now I feel I don't want to build a modular house for a while - character builds, please - but sooner or later I'll get inspiration and there we go...

Thanks for reading all of this in case you did!

Happy Spring!