Any child you know probably dreams of living inside a world built by Lego. Now, that's a possibility—at least for visitors to a new 560,000-square-foot expansion to Lego’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark, which will include long-term stay facilities for traveling employees and a massive, multitiered atrium that will relieve cramped quarters for the company’s 4,000 local employees.
"There’s no slide. Fair enough," says Claus Flyger Pejstrup, SVP for Lego Business Services, with a laugh, alluding to the two-story steel tube in Lego’s existing headquarters. Instead, the space—designed by CF Møller and informed by hundreds of suggestions from Lego’s employees—is modeled to engender playful productivity and encourage collaboration face-to-face, away from desks.
The new building itself has a very modern, very Scandinavian facade—but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s structured around several allusions to giant Lego bricks. These four-by-two-foot and two-by-two-foot "bricks" frame the windows, while the dots you'll find on the underside of any Lego provide the pattern for mod portholes. "It’s not, if you will, Lego bricks in your face, but small hints of Lego design icons," says Pejstrup. "We didn’t want to make a Lego brick house. That was too obvious. It also has to look like a proper office building."
Indeed, while Lego is fun and games, it’s also the world’s second largest toymaker (behind Mattel), a $5.2 billion business that needs a space that can encourage cross-corporate collaboration as well as any other big company. The four-story atrium is designed to foster just that. While sunshine beams down from the massive skylights (also shaped like you-know-what), the circular floor plans and balconies are designed to foster sight lines, enabling a level of face-to-face contact, even from across the building.
"We wanted a place where from different angles, different floors, you can constantly see each other," says Pejstrup. "We’ve come to that realization, more and more, that we need to collaborate, formally and informally. Less work happens at your desk sitting behind a computer [now]." Meanwhile, to supplement those desks, impromptu meeting spaces—nooks with tables, sofas, and chairs—are strewn throughout to foster these casual connections.
Lego even wants to encourage these relationships in the off-hours. In the expansion's new Lego People House, traveling employees will not only be offered what sounds like posh dorm living, complete with the cafeteria and gym services, but also areas where locals and visitors can hang at night, social space that is likely a necessity given Lego’s remote location (Billund is a small town, with a population of just over 6,000 people). These areas include maker spaces—reminiscent of Microsoft’s Garage space—where Lego employees can meet up to work on any side project they may be doing.
"Obviously there are a lot of creative people at Lego, and giving them spaces and opportunities to be creative has been [a big request] of employees," says Pejstrup.
Brick references aside, is there enough fun in the design for a brand as playful as Lego? Pejstrup thinks there may be room for more, and given that the complete project won't be built until 2020, there's still some time left to iron out the finer details. "There’s no doubt that the playfulness has to come into it," says Pejstrup. "We haven't made any final designs of the interior. Maybe a slide would be an excellent idea!"
[All Images: via Lego]