Of all the crazy stuff we’ve done here at the Movoto blog, one of the most popular has been the “LEGO My House” calculator, which lets you find out how many LEGO bricks it would take to build a scale model of your home. We’ve been trying to come up with a fitting follow-up for a while now, but nothing seemed suitably epic enough. That is until our PR guy, Nick, asked a question: How many Lego bricks have been made?
Turns out it’s more than 474 billion since the Danish toy maven started cranking out the modern version of the bricks in 1958 (a number that’s increasing by 36 billion per year). How’s that for an utterly mind-blowing statistic?
Given my ongoing obsession with all things blocky (hello, have you seen our Tetris and Rubik’s Cube calculators?), I decided to find out just what could be built with all those bricks. What did I find? Well, I hope your brain’s still in one piece, because you’re going to need it to process what I’m about to drop on you. By using all of the LEGO bricks ever made, you could build:
- 2,972 of the White House in DC
- 588 of the Taj Mahal
- 200 of Buckingham Palace
- 74 of the Empire State Building
- 66 of the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building)
- 1 Great Pyramid of Giza
Or, if lots of small buildings are more your thing, you could build:
- 46,032 median sized (2,169 square foot, two-story) homes
That’s enough homes to house nearly 122,000 people, or the population of cities such as:
Of course, these would be some pretty noisy cities, what with all that plastic creating echoes and clacking when you walk. You’d also have a little problem with heating in the winter, unless you want to end up with a rainbow-colored puddle for a house.
Keep reading for more on the process that lead me to these figures—if your grey matter still isn’t obliterated, that is.
Famous Places in Plastic
For the White House, Empire State Building, Buckingham Palace, and Burj Khalifa, I was able to use the math we already worked out for calculating the LEGO bricks needed to construct a building based on square footage and the number of floors. Here’s how that worked out:
- Burj Khalifa: 7,067,231,175 bricks
- Empire State Building: 6,325,329,353
- Buckingham Palace: 2,350,135,986
- White House: 158,783,167 bricks
The Taj Mahal was trickier because it’s octagonal, and while it only has two floors, they’re not standard (10 foot) height. In fact, the building is about 560 feet tall including its trademark dome. I figured out the square footage for the octagonal main building (312,882 square feet) and decided to go with a solid sphere for the roughly 115-foot diameter, spherical dome. The volume of that (796,328 cubic feet) would require 11,148,592 LEGO bricks to build. The rest of the building would require 790,877,374 bricks. All told, a 1:1 scale LEGO Taj Mahal mausoleum would be comprised of 802,025,966 bricks.
The Great Pyramid was entirely different, since it’s mostly solid. In this case, I had to figure out its volume in cubic feet (88,286,667), then use our earlier calculations of how many LEGO bricks make up a standard 2 1/4 x 4 x 8 inch brick (5,026), then how many of those would fit into a one cubic foot of space (14). That gave me roughly 444 billion LEGO bricks, about 30 billion under the number I had to work with—pretty close, when you’re working on this scale.
We Built This City
After I’d recreated some famous buildings, I decided to go larger-scale. That meant multiple buildings, and since we’re all about homes here at Movoto, I figured nothing could be more fitting to follow up our original Lego house story than a LEGO city.
This turned out to be pretty simple compared to calculating the bricks required for something like the Taj Mahal, since we already knew how many Lego bricks it would take to build an average 2,169 square foot, two-story home (10,079,829). Using the 472 billion figure of all LEGO bricks produced to date, I calculated that 46,826 homes could be built with them.
Given that the latest U.S. Census data says the average number of people living in a home is 2.6, those homes would house 121,747 people. The 2011 Census projections state that Roseville, CA is just about that size (all the cities I mentioned at the top of the article are close, but it’s the closest).
So, Roseville, if you ever find yourself without a place to stay, just give some LEGO Maniacs a call. The houses they’ll be able to build you might not be the most comfortable or fashionably hued, but they’ll be giant Lego homes—and even LEGOLAND doesn’t have any of those.