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The Old Observatory Leiden in LEGO? You can make it happen!

Every week, Uwe Hensch walks past the Old Observatory in Leiden. In corona times, he decided to make a LEGO design of the historic building. His design is now finished and might go into production. You can help to make it happen.

Uwe Hensch (52), born and raised in Germany, stays in Leiden during the weekdays for his work at Siemens-Energy. When corona hit, he started to dig out his old LEGO stuff and created his own models. ‘I was eager to participate in this LEGO Ideas competition where you can submit a design idea people can vote on.’ 

Albert E. & The OId Observatory

When thinking about what to design, the Observatory came to mind. ‘I live a couple hundreds meters away from the Old Observatory, and the beautiful building always triggered me. I’ve got a background in engineering, and for an engineer, that main dome and the technology inside is absolutely fascinating.’ 

However, Hensch didn’t know much about the building and its rich history, so he started reading about the oldest university observatory in the world. He found out that a lot of famous scientists were active at the Observatory. ‘The Dutch astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort of course, and the most popular scientist ever: Albert Einstein. The rich history convinced me to remake the Observatory in LEGO, and I thought it would be nice to include Einstein in the design.’

Building it piece for piece

So, Hensch started working on his design, which took him almost three months. ‘I used the 3D design software Studio, which contains all the existing LEGO bricks. I’m an engineer, so I had to include some technical LEGO elements,’ Hensch laughs. ‘For example, the dome of the Observatory can rotate.’ 

Although the design currently only exists as a computer model, Hensch hopes to make a tangible version soon. ‘There is this big project in Leiden called Stad-in-Steentjes, a competition in which people recreate Leiden buildings, objects and historical events with LEGO. I want to compete with my Old Observatory! However, finding all the right LEGO pieces is difficult. Luckily, there are some websites where you can purchases a single piece, so I have to search for it piece by piece.’   

Catching the essence of the Observatory

The building is inspired by the Old Observatory, but it isn’t an exact replica. For instance, the LEGO version only has one dome instead of four. ‘I wanted to catch the essence by taking the main elements, such as the plastering, the colours and the shape of the main dome. I was very happy to hear that other people still recognised the Observatory, and I’ve received a lot of positive comments on my LEGO Ideas page

After three days, the design received 100 supporters, which gave Hensch 365 days to reach the next milestone: 1000 supports. If he succeeds, he gets 185 days to collect 5000 votes, and after that another 185 days to reach 10.000 votes.

‘If I could reach that incredible amount, then the final step would be a review by LEGO with other ideas that reached the required number of 10,000 supporters. That’s when they decide which design they’ll take into production. So the chances are really, really rare, but who knows what happens!

Currently, the design has 625 supporters.

How to support guide

  1. Go to the Product Ideas page
  2. Admire the design
  3. Click on the yellow Support button
  4. Confirm your vote by signing in or creating an account

Text: Bryce Benda
Images: Uwe Hensch

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