IT has been a childhood favourite for generations – and now experts hope it could hold the key to society’s big questions.
Next week, Newcastle University will be unveiling an interactive exhibition featuring more than 110,000 blocks of Lego.
The bricks will be used to make an ideal “mini-city” and, whilst it promises to be lots of fun, its main aim will be to explore major issues that impact on people’s everyday lives.
Called The Great North Build, the project will look for answers to searching questions, such as how does a city plan for a growing and ageing population, and how can urban design improve the environment?
The exhibition is being held at Newcastle’s Great North Museum from Monday to April 14 and members of the public are being invited to be involved in the construction. From youngsters experimenting with chunky Duplo houses, to expert architects and city planners, everybody is welcome to play their part.
As the Lego town grows, micro-CCTV cameras will capture its development, and visitors can even expect to be challenged by unexpected real-life planning scenarios such as accommodating growing businesses or coping with flooding.
The Great North Build event marks the public launch of the university’s new Institute for Social Renewal, which will be a dedicated centre for research into some of the biggest problems faced by individuals and communities today.
The Institute’s new director, Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE, said: “In our role as a world-leading civic university, it is our duty to make a difference to the world around us; not only to be a leader in thinking, but also in action. This new institute will try to bring the university’s research expertise to bear on some of the most difficult challenges people face, such as those of unemployment, inequality and opportunity.
“We thought that opening the debate, on our doorstep and to the widest cross-section of the community, would give us a strong start in identifying the big questions that matter most to our society. While we expect people of all ages to enjoy helping to shape their ideal town, we also expect it to be a thought-provoking platform for discussion.”
Research into the issues the Great North Build will raise is already under way at Newcastle University.
This includes research into the viability of co-housing for the elderly, where private homes use shared facilities to create a better sense of community.
During the Great North Build, a programme of events will also be hosted at the museum, from family workshops to seminars on various issues.