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Dakar A

The Essence of Modular Building

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Waaayyy back in 2007, the Lego Group started one of their arguably most successful ventures in recent history- the Modular Building series. There have been 12 sets to date, and with such a large source material, patterns, themes, and styles can be picked out and analyzed. This post is for anyone with an appreciation for the Modular Buildings, and particularly for those who plan to or have built one in the past. I hope you come away with a deeper understanding of what makes these buildings so lovely, and an eye for detail that others may overlook.

 

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The Cafe Corner was the progenitor of the modular series, and played a large hand in establishing trends and guidelines for the series. The building has a bottom floor done in a contrasting color to the upper levels, horizontal color striping, strong focus on texture, accent colors, and color blocking, as well as an asymmetrical design. All of these concepts will be discussed in further detail.

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The Green Grocer is the truest 'successor' to the Cafe Corner, in that carries over the big ideas of the set much better (in my opinion) than Market Street, and thus takes the #2 spot on the list. Note that the build uses Sand green and tan as its primary and secondary color, with blue and brown accents, as well as the requisite modular color palette of light & dark grey, black, and white. It also solidified the modular pattern of a tall first floor. The modulars frequently look good because the adhere well to the golden ratio. This is executed by having the first floor of the building be much taller than the subsequent floors.

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Here I begin a deconstruction of what makes a modular building a modular building. In this render, can you tell at first what is different about the build? The sand green 'texture' bricks have been changed to flat faced bricks. Texture bricks, including but not limited to 'brick' bricks, grille bricks, garage door bricks, and those odd little poofy bricks have all been used in Modular buildings to give an extra layer of visual 'crunchiness' to a build and can cause a MOC to seem off without careful inclusion.

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Striping is another key component of the modulars. Lego is a naturally stripe-forming medium, given the need to have each floor divided by a 2 plate tall difference, at minimum. But the modular buildings lean fully into this identity, making liberal use of striping throughout their builds. The Green Grocer has tan striping on the upper floors and dark green on the base floor, along with light/dark grey between the floors.

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Finally, color blocking is important not only in a modular building, but in ANY Lego MOC. A solid slab of color with nothing to contrast against it is boring to the human eye. Even in the most minimalist abstract compositions (Like Piet Mondrian's Red, Blue, and Yellow or Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow, there are implementations of color blocking in order to give the piece visual interest). Here, the light grey 'gutters' have been removed from the building, as well as the 2x2 inverted slopes that signal the shift from building front to the roof. There is further reduction that could be done here, but the removals as they stand give such a different impression from the final set that the point should be obvious.

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The Fire Brigade is a masterpiece of color blocking, texture, and depth. The build is indisputably based on an American firehouse (that flag doesn't lie!), and a great many lackluster MOCs draw on a similar brownstone/terrace house façade. One of the more notable things that sets the Fire Brigade apart is its depth. The central 'column' of the façade is set forward one brick from the rest of the façade, and its line continues upward, bringing the eye to the belltower atop the building. The left and right flanks of this column are recessed, not only by being 1 stud behind the center column, but also being bookended by SNOT texturing on the far left and right of the building, giving the facade a sort of W shape, if viewed from a bird's eye view. This serves to break up what could very well be a boring façade.

Additional elements that balance the 'whitespace' of the building against visual interest are the flag, fire helmet displays, and date. Many a builder has incorporated similar elements into their builds without understanding what purpose they serve. These elements were not added to the build simply because the builder wanted to put a SNOT date in a build, but rather because they serve to add visual interest to sections of the build that would otherwise be bland, while still being balanced against the rest of the façade.

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The Grand Emporium is an exercise in how to successfully use repetitive structures in a build without it becoming bland. Take a moment to absorb the build and try to figure out how exactly the designers differentiated sections of the build. Firstly, the sections of the build themselves are visually interesting, incorporating texture bricks, varying depths, and striping to give a strong base level of enjoyable design that is built on in some surprisingly simple ways. This building makes liberal use of simple decorations to balance the build and prevent it from drowning the viewer in symmetry. The mailbox, ice cream stand, window washer, and billboard all stand to work as enjoyable elements that draw the eye around the build, preventing the viewer's mind from simply noting the pattern of the build and passing along. They also help to weight the build's center of focus down towards the first floor, something that the differently colored floors help to do in the modular building series.

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Though this analysis is focused on what the modular buildings share, each one exercises a different muscle in bucking convention. Not only does the Pet Shop throw the standard of one building per set out the window, it also challenges the pattern of differentiated bottom floors in the red building. Instead of using a contrasting first floor to draw visual interest, the red building focuses attention vertically on the bay window, similar to how the Green Grocer had its bay window highlighted by its own 'frame'. In order to compensate for this, the red building leans more heavily on texture and depth to lend visual interest to the rest of its bottom floors, along with a 2nd, weaker vertical line through the windows and door. The Pet Shop itself, on the other hand draws more from the past buildings, with a contrasting bottom floor, lots of striping and garage bricks, and a more symmetrical build. It's also notable for introducing the now-common technique of adding planters around windows to give them greater visual interest.

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The Town Hall set is similar to the Fire Brigade in that both are based on American architecture from the 1900's, in line with the rest of the modular building series. The Town Hall again uses a protruding center section to give visual interest and carry the eye towards the top and the clock tower. Whereas the Fire Brigade used the garage door to do this on the ground floor, the Town Hall uses the greek columns and a tympanum to concentrate the lines of the structure upwards. Another notable feature is the use of 'puffy' bricks to separate the windows and give visual interest.

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The Palace Cinema is unique in that it is both an homage to the Cafe Corner AND Grauman's Chinese Theatre. You can see the dark red roofing and brown windows with round tops, as well as the parallelogram top as the homage to Cafe Corner, and the general asian design and theatre aspect. Much like Cafe Corner, the façade is separated into 3 sub-structures- the left and right walls and the central column. The left and right walls use varied depth and dark tan elements to carry the eye upwards and accentuate the border between the 2nd floor and the roofline.

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The Parisian Restaurant again bucks modular convention in that the bottom floor is mostly the same color as the second floor. However, the use of brown windows and white accent pieces give it a different feel. Throughout the build, the designers use a concert of olive green bricks and white bricks as contrast, with a similar grey border scheme to the Green Grocer.

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The Detective's Office is another American styled building, but it is very different from the previous Fire Brigade and Town Hall. It uses separate color palettes to differentiate the 'separate' buildings, though they are truly just one large building built together. The barbershop makes heavy use of striping, both vertical and horizontal, to give the build more visual interest. Without the contrasting blues, the right façade could be visually boring, but because they are varied, the structure is interesting. Note as well the building's use of dark blue and tan instead of the normal light grey or black to differentiate the bottom floor.

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What truly makes this building stand out is the harmony of the striping, depth, and color used. The windows are recessed 1/2 a brick, the horizontal stripe continues their visual narrative around the side of the building, and the color focuses the eye inwards on the windows.

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The Brick Bank is a good example of how a build with a muted color palette can be made to stand out. The main colors are the monochrome spectrum of white, light and dark grey, and black, but the critical accents of dark tan and sand green stand out so much more because of this. By smartly using color, you can accent your builds and take them up a level.

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Assembly Square, while being an homage to ALL the past modular buildings, is also a great keystone to hold together all the techniques and ideas so far. The bakery building is primarily tan, but uses the dark orange tiles as texture and also to give the front a color that has a limited number of pieces in production. The florist uses varying depth on its second floor to break up an otherwise simple façade. The cafe uses white tiles to carry the eye up the façade, as well as grill bricks to give the wall visual interest. The bottom floor of all three buildings uses more basic colors and a large number of windows in order to differentiate the upper floors. The color is blocked together on all 3 buildings into sections to give the accent colors more power. Additionally, the rooflines of each building are textured across to, again, give visual interest. One more feature that I've neglected to point out is that the upper floors of a large number of the modulars use a lower line that is different from the upper parts. Here you can see it in the bakery with the grey jumper plates, in the florist with the flowers, and the cafe as the tan/dark tans.

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So after analyzing the modulars themselves, I will try to deconstruct MOC modulars and what they do wrong and right. First is a build by /u/Vinklem (on Reddit) that attempts to scale up the Corner Deli set. They get the first floor right in that there is good use of windows and differentiated colors, as well as striping between the upper floors. However, the upper floors do not have a cohesive visual line, and there is no depth variation, leading the build to appear as one large, flat plane instead of a visually separated building. The builder could have improved on this by carrying the line between the Lego store and the deli up the building.

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This building by /u/SeargentSasquatch gets the texture elements and use of light grey correct, but it fails in carrying a cohesive line up the façade and in differentiating the upper floors from the base. The building has more color around the back, but by not letting that shine through the front the builder has given their building an almost brutalist aesthetic. The build could be fixed by carrying other colors around to the front, and varying the depth of the windows on the center of the building to make a more cohesive line.

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I picked this building by /u/dm86 because while it mimics many of the aspects of the Pet Shop builds, it loses something in the execution. The most obvious issue is the failure to differ the bottom floor from the upper two. By having a short base floor with a tan color that continues up the build, the builder sacrifices the golden ratio proportions that both the Pet Shop buildings have. The build could be fixed by heightening the bottom floor, sticking to light grey and dark green on the upper floors, and adding texture around the windows in order to have a good looking build.

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This build by /u/whit123 captures the Modular aesthetic the best of the builds we've looked at so far, but still has some flaws to be addressed. The building does a good job of color blocking and texture. The ground floor is too short, however, and there is no differentiation between the 2nd and 3rd floors. Additionally, the white color blocks are somewhat overbearing- the builder could have used a different color, possibly tan, for the texturing above the windows and the flower beds below.

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This build, by /u/shdon, is our closest yet! It captures the first floor at an appropriate height, has cohesive lines and color blocking, and even depth in the windows! But it fails in the avenue of depth. This could allow it to truly come into its own. As it stands, the build is solid, but it lacks the character that depth variation in the façade could give it.

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This build from /u/Skaare42 again comes close to the ideal, but the upper floors lack much depth variation. However, some builders do not build specifically to fit with the standard modular aesthetic, and this is one of those.

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This Simpsons house mod by /u/droomangroup was chosen because it illustrates some of our concepts well. The builder did a good job of working with the parts they had and converting the Simpsons set into the modular format. However, it does not match the modular 'aesthetic' very well, in that it looks out of place amongst the sets it is placed next to. The building has texturing and reasonable vertical lines, but a big part of what defines the modulars is their color usage and variation. The Simpson's house set only contains a few colors of exterior bricks, and so the builder was limited to a brown, tan, and flesh colored building, which does not fit well with the multi-colored modular buildings. Even the arguably most color-centric set, the Green Grocer, uses tan, white, light grey, brown, black, and blue as accent colors.

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This is the closest build we have seen so far to capturing the modular aesthetic. Everything is done right, save for the dark green and white section at the roofline. This illustrates a pitfall that many builders succumb to- overdecoration. While the designers over in Billund have essentially free reign on what pieces and colors to use, we peons do not have that luxury, and as a result often have to make part substitutions or adjustments to our ideal designs. One thing that many builders immediately jump to is creating large 'decorations' in order to cover a lack of pieces in the right color, style, or amount. DO NOT DO THIS. Go for subtlety in your modular MOCs. The Green Grocer does not have a large sign outside saying 'GROCER', the Brick Bank does not have a large brick-built dollar sign outside. Try to show what the building is through your architecture, not through explicit decorations. And if you feel the need to add some visual flavor through decoration, go the Assembly Square route and keep it small; minifig scale if you can.

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This build is again near perfect, but has one key flaw- the builder did not go far enough with separating the tower section on the right side of the building from the rest. It is obvious that it is supposed to be a separate visual line from the rest of the build, but by keeping to the pattern of the rest of the upper floor façade the builder prevents the section from sticking out and speaking for itself.

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Finally, we get to great examples of Modular MOCs. These all demonstrate an especially solid grasp on the tenants and patterns that make the Modular series distinct and implement them, while exercising their own artistic vision to create unique buildings.

This first building by Tobias T. on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131278188@N08/29112270563/in/faves-75784937@N07/) employs excellent color blocking, making great use of only white and dark orange to create the requisite separation between floors and the building's striping. The black windows provide a consistent contrast to the colors used throughout the build, and the sand green on the first floor and old aqua on the roof provide an extra splash of color. The depth of the build is notable in the dual vertical visual columns that note the different central section.

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This record store by Sebastian Z (https://www.flickr.com/photos/15902478@N02/12760729075/in/faves-75784937@N07/) is another great example of using only vertical visual columns to give a build weight and detail lines. The eye is immediately drawn to the rounded structure and the rest of the building is observed in relation to that anchor. Like the Fire Brigade, though this building is only 2 floors tall, it manages to fit the aesthetic handily.

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This build is a great example of great variation within the bounds of the Modular system. The building hardly fits in with the 'standard' of mostly rectangular modular buildings, while still seeming like it could be an official set. This is because the build has a differentiated bottom floor, strong texturing throughout, a careful use of striping, and fantastic color blocking. (It's also the winner of the Modular Madness contest on here!)

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This Bike Shop build by Lukasz Libuszewski (https://www.flickr.com/photos/137778552@N08/30263533053/in/faves-75784937@N07/) is one of the closest I have seen to capturing the polish of the official sets. It has the color blocking, texture, depth, and striping to fit in, but excels in creating a scene that feels imbued with real life; creating a build that feels 'lived in'. One thing that helps this is the photography- taking well-lit photos of your builds with non-obstructive backgrounds can drastically alter the perception of others when viewing them.

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This build, Bootblack Street, by patika (https://www.flickr.com/photos/138380948@N04/33681797771/in/faves-75784937@N07/) also has the je ne sais quoi of livelihood that the official Modular sets encapsulate. Note how greatly the depth of the build varies; do not be afraid to have a section of your building jut out many studs from the rest of it!

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Another MOC by Lukasz, this one is notable for its use of color. The build uses flame yellow, yellow, and tan, 3 colors in the same color family that are usually not put next to each other in Lego buildings, with builders opting for more 'realistic' colors. Do not be afraid to experiment with rare or odd colors in your builds. Purples, mint greens, aquas, and even bright reds can have a place in Modular MOCs; it is up to you to put them there!

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This is the first in a number of MOCs by Pete Streege/RedCoKid (https://www.flickr.com/photos/redcokid/). This build is titled 'Apple Square University'. Note his use of vertical visual columns in the bay window sections running up the upper floors. Tan is again used as a base color here, added on to with dark blue, medium nougat, dark red, and black sharing an equal stage. Also note the use of vertical striping to break up the large sections of tan between floors.

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This build is titled Natural History Museum. It is a fantastic example of showing a building's function through its architecture, as opposed to large signs. The only explicit clues to the building's purpose on the outside are the two dinosaur statues. However, as the viewers we can tell what the building's purpose is through the white columns, the bone shaped railings, and the green banners at the top.

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This building is the Pumpkin Factory and is a good example of depth and line. Notice how the lines created by the windows carry up to the roof of the building, but the lines created by the recessed sections with 'puffy' bricks do not. The depth of the sections with the 'puffy' bricks bears pointing out as well- in order to create a contrast with the rest of the build they are set back half a brick, instead of simply including them in the wall. This gives the building an extra level of visual 'crunch'.

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Finally, we come upon his Lawyer Laundromat. This build is a tour de force of color, texture, and line. The build employs a multitude of colors, from the common dark tan, black, and dark grey, to the exotic sand red, sand green, and pearl gold. The colors are used intelligently so as not to overwhelm the viewer. Instead they create a pleasing palette. The building's texture is mainly created by alternating SNOT rows of plates and cheese slopes. These provide a great contrast to the solid vertical lines that encapsulate them, while not being overtly obtrusive. And the line of the building are carried through masterfully- notice how the olive green columns surrounding the cheese slope textures are carried through into the brick brick stripes around each floor via tan bricks. Hopefully this guide helped you understand the complexities of the Modular building series and what to strive for when making one of your own. If not, I hope that the numerous examples I provided gave you some inspiration. Leg godt!

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Town hall, assembly square, grand emporium, detectives office and nine of the MOC modulars you posted have as you said:

The top two floors have a bit of a sameness problem going on, in my opinion though. 

Hypocrisy. 

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Town hall's 3rd floor is different from the 2nd, Detective's Office has the varying height and the barber building has the arched windows, the Grand Emporium has the flags differentiating the 2nd floor. Assembly Square is more guilty than the others in its bakery building section, yes, but the cafe building has the balcony and the 3 building setup give it enough differentiation so that the repetition of the floors does not stick out as much. All of the MOC modulars in the 'good examples' section have some level of differentiation between their 2nd and 3rd floors, even if the floor is mostly a repeat of the one below it.

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Nice write-up, and thanks for the honorable mention :classic:
It was an interesting read, and you managed to put a lot of ideas and principles into words that I subconsciously look or strive for when seeing or creating MOCs.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with having buildings that largely repeat the upper floor design more than once. Especially if the building has more than three floors, or goes for a more american, flat-roofed design (think old town houses in New York, for example).
Actually, I think trying to give every floor a unique design is something where many builders go wrong, as they neglect the vertical aspects of their build. The second and third MOCs you posted fall into that category.

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An interesting, detailed read, but to be honest I'm not convinced you have worked out what makes a good modular building. It's not that I disagree what you've said, I agree wholeheartedly, but it's a complicated subject and it isn't easy to say what makes something inherently bad and what exactly is necessary to improve it. It really is entirely subjective even if some are more balanced than others. However, taken as a whole, some of what you've said is contradictory.

For example, what would your opinion be of this building? Of colour use, blocking, framing, repetition and continuity?

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I believe that you can't go wrong in emulating the style a real life building that you like. It doesn't necessarily mean that it will translate well into Lego, but it will ensure that you will avoid the many architectural pitfalls that designing a building from scratch can present. It would provide you with a realistic colour palette and the ratios of each. It would ensure that all architectural elements line up both horizontally and vertically, and are weighted appropriately. It provides an architectural style that won't be a mishmash of various other styles. Turning said real life building into a realistic representation in Lego form is the most difficult part however and can take lots of experimentation to get right and benefits considerably by a second opinion.


 

 

Edited by pinioncorp

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21 minutes ago, pinioncorp said:

An interesting, detailed read, but to be honest I'm not convinced you have worked out what makes a good modular building. It's not that I disagree what you've said, I agree wholeheartedly, but it's a complicated subject and it isn't easy to say what makes something inherently bad and what exactly is necessary to improve it. It really is entirely subjective even if some are more balanced than others. However, taken as a whole, some of what you've said is contradictory.

For example, what would your opinion be of this building? Of colour use, blocking, framing, repetition and continuity?

It's funny that you use that as an example; I built it! I did base it on a real building:
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You are absolutely right in saying that basing your build heavily off of a real world building avoids lots of the pitfalls that building from scratch come with. But I don't like to work with an absolute 1-to-1 replica of the buildings, so I create a mood board of a couple of buildings I would like to draw inspiration from (though I tend to focus more strongly on one). Here, I already had a color palette in mind, so I adapted the color scheme of the real life building. Going for the same height would also have made it stick out like a sore thumb amongst the other modular buildings, so I shortened it to 3 floors and made it somewhat more squat. And finally I added the ivy to the second floor because of the sameness problem. I'm not trying to say in the analysis that you have to go out and build an entirely different floor design, I'm trying to get at the fact that well designed modular buildings provide variation between similar floors to break up the design. The Grand Emporium only used flags and the window washer; RedCoKid only changed a few balconies and the design of the window caps.

To sum up, in my opinion the variation should be subtle but visible to keep with the Lego aesthetic.

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I gleaned from this that there are different kinds of modular builders, which unfortunately means there are aesthetic conflicts with the official LEGO sets. If you don't like the way the official sets' buildings look, you'd better have deep pockets to build a city in the aesthetic you want.

Anyway, I got that there are:

•Builders who like to make every floor of the building distinct.

•Builders who like keeping a unified theme for a building.

•Builders who like making every floor distinct, but unifying them somehow, like with similar windows, stripes, etc. ("Ugly" isn't the exact word for it, but this is unattractive to me)

I'm finding it hard to discuss this without focusing on specific examples, what I think will or won't work for a building varies case to case. But one thing is for sure, there's definitely an "official" aesthetic for the official modular buildings.

Edited by Henchmen4Hire

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Good and interesting read.

I do agree however that having facades that are repeating themselves on upper levels do not have to be a downside (and not only because I did that in 5 of my 11 builds as well ;-). When looking at buildings in real life that is something which is happening all the time and when executed well give the buildings a very convincing and realistic look. On the other side it is also quite difficult to build something which looks clean and not to crowded when having upper levels with differences. I think the choice of color combinations is far more important than having differences among the different levels of the facade.

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17 hours ago, Henchmen4Hire said:

I gleaned from this that there are different kinds of modular builders, which unfortunately means there are aesthetic conflicts with the official LEGO sets. If you don't like the way the official sets' buildings look, you'd better have deep pockets to build a city in the aesthetic you want.

Anyway, I got that there are:

•Builders who like to make every floor of the building distinct.

•Builders who like keeping a unified theme for a building.

•Builders who like making every floor distinct, but unifying them somehow, like with similar windows, stripes, etc. ("Ugly" isn't the exact word for it, but this is unattractive to me)

I'm finding it hard to discuss this without focusing on specific examples, what I think will or won't work for a building varies case to case. But one thing is for sure, there's definitely an "official" aesthetic for the official modular buildings.

You're pretty right there! Insofar as 'Modular' can be considered a style, working too far outside the established bounds means that your builds will stick out like a sore thumb against the released sets. So you'll see people who work in a different scale or level that will invariably have to have deep pockets, as you said, to create a whole city. But that's sorta like comparing people who like to build minifig scale vehicles vs 1/32 or other scale vehicles.

As for the personal choices, I think there's definitely room for personal styles and flairs in Modular MOCs that still work within the 'system'. But there are certain tenants of it that, if you ignore them, will result in your building sticking out in a bad way from the main sets.

5 hours ago, peedeejay said:

Good and interesting read.

I do agree however that having facades that are repeating themselves on upper levels do not have to be a downside (and not only because I did that in 5 of my 11 builds as well ;-). When looking at buildings in real life that is something which is happening all the time and when executed well give the buildings a very convincing and realistic look. On the other side it is also quite difficult to build something which looks clean and not to crowded when having upper levels with differences. I think the choice of color combinations is far more important than having differences among the different levels of the facade.

I actually should have included some of your builds as good examples, @peedeejay! I agree that color (in particular color blocking) is more important than the repetition of the floors. But it also doesn't have to be any major changes between floors; just subtle things can make all the difference! (i.e. the flags and window washer in the GE, different balconies on Assembly Square, or even the curved bricks vs tooth plates in your pizza parlor!)

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Very good overview! I feel like I learned quite a lot about what makes modular buildings effective.

One thing that might not be essential for aesthetically fitting in, but is a commonality between the official modular buildings, is that the second floor of all modular building sets can be "duplicated" indefinitely to extend the height of the building. This requires that the "floor" and "ceiling" of that floor to be identical in shape (not becoming deeper or narrower near the top or bottom), as well as for any stairwells to begin and end in the same place.

Many of the good builds you list adhere to this, but the third one you list might not—it depends on whether or not the balcony and climbing ivy are attached to the rest of the floor or a separate structure like on the Parisian Restaurant. It also looks like the click hinge detailing on the bike shop might prevent that floor from being stacked, and while it doesn't look like anything structural would prevent you from stacking more of the Natural History Museum's middle floor, the nice continuity of the columns would be interrupted.

Again, this is a minor concern (more applicable to consumer sets than to MOCs designed to be displayed in a single configuration), but I felt it was worth mentioning as an oft-forgotten aspect of the modular building series.

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Interesting write up. I think you made some good points, but I also agree with some of the dissent others have posted. Some food for thought: do you think it's possible to completely buck the traditions and all that come from the TLG in their modulate to make one that is aesthetically pleasing or what not?

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Repeating floors are just a reality, in the real world it is a staple architectural design. The architects are not wrong. The buildings that don't exhibit this either don't have a 3rd enclosed and occupiable floor or have some variation of a mansard roof built into the 3rd floor facade. There are examples that buck this trend but it holds true for the overwhelming majority of 3+ story buildings. 

Point is no one should be discouraged from making a MOC modular with repeating floors or told to change theirs (which is contradictory to the 'essence' of MOC) simply because a contrarian thinks that every one should have a mansard roof or think every floor should be different from the previous, especially when one cites as acceptable the very thing they criticized before. 

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5 hours ago, KotZ said:

Interesting write up. I think you made some good points, but I also agree with some of the dissent others have posted. Some food for thought: do you think it's possible to completely buck the traditions and all that come from the TLG in their modulate to make one that is aesthetically pleasing or what not?

I think it is possible to do, but I don't think a building that does would fit very well into a modular-centered city. I've seen some great modern/minimalist minifig scale builds, as well as some prairie style builds that look fantastic on their own, but would look out of place in a modular city. But I think that just like in the real world, there is potential to blend more unique styles into the constraints of the modular system. like this: 

 

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