There are many ways to take a bit of Vienna home with you. The artist Harald Gach has found a particularly unusual option. He constructs famous Viennese buildings out of Lego, which is in no way child's play.
In real life, the famous Karl Marx Hof is more than a kilometer long. However, in the world of Harald Gach, a freelance artist from Vienna, the epitome of architecture for the Red Vienna of the 1920s measures just 45 centimeters in length and is 12 centimeters tall. "The model is made from exactly 890 pieces of Lego," says Gach, putting a number of his version of the monumental structure. But the Karl Marx Hof is far from being the only historic Viennese building that Gach has created out of Lego bricks. There are currently dozens of them.
From classic to modern
Gach has also replicated Parliament, the State Opera, the Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles) and Otto Wagner's Church of St. Leopold in colorful plastic bricks as well as lesser known historic buildings such as Palais Fraenkel in the 8th district and Theophil Hansen's Palais Erzherzog Wilhelm. He has also been inspired by classics of the 20th century. His collection of impressive Viennese architecture, which he presents at www.viennabricks.at, also includes the high-rise Hochhaus Herrengasse from the 1930s, the Wien Museum designed by Oswald Haerdtl in the 1950s, and Karl Schwanzer's Philips House on the Wienerberg from the 1960s.
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Days of planning
It all started five years ago. The initial spark came from his passion for photography. Gach: "Playing with perspective, concentrating on structures and details, simply fascinates me." And Lego was always part of the equation. "My parents had hours of peace with me," says Gach laughing. How long does he need to complete his models? "The planning phase always takes up most of the time. That can often be several days. Building the model takes between 30 minutes and six hours." The exceptional circumstances of recent weeks were good for his creativity: "The quarantine made me particularly productive."
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Run aground on the Burgtheater
In any case there's still a great deal more for him to do. Right at the top of the to-do list are Otto Wagner's Austrian Post Savings Bank and another structure from the Red Vienna era in the form of the Bundesrealgymnasium Erlgasse in Meidling. But failure is also part of the game: "I simply can't achieve the Burgtheater on a reasonable scale. Sometimes, however, it takes a few tries and some time out for it to suddenly come together," explains Gach. So the Burgtheater isn't entirely out of the race just yet. Is he sometimes met with amazement when he talks about his unusual building activity? "Strangely, no. And when people see some of the models, they are often speechless."
The models by Harald Gach are also available to buy. An overview of all the buildings can be found at www.viennabricks.at.
At these locations in Vienna you will find the originals to Gach's models: