Escher's "Belvedere" in LEGO®

Because The LEGO Company get paranoid about this sort of thing let me make it clear that I have no affiliation with them, that my views are my own and do not necessarily represent theirs, and so on. So if you think any of this is official you are as deluded as they are.




Another Escher picture rendered in LEGO. My friend Daniel Shiu and I worked on this as a joint project after we finished our rendition of Escher's "Balcony". When we started we expected to have to indulge in some very dirty tricks in software to hack around with the photograph, but in fact we didn't need to - although we did discover a few nasty surprises that Escher had hidden in the picture (other than the obvious one). And we had to get the camera position just right for the picture to come out OK. What? You thought those floors were rectangles?

The domes on top, and the slightly protruding cell wall at the near end of the bottom level, were both interesting exercises in half-brick spacing - using full brick increments we just couldn't get the resolution at this scale to get the domes to look at all rounded, but with half-brick increments it looks vaguely reasonable. Any way, many of those useful 1x2 plate offset bricks with the single stud on top were used, as were a distressing number of 1xn light grey tiles (I twice thought I'd run out before finding an extra stash hidden away somewhere).

We took a small liberty with the guy in the red hat at the bottom of the picture. In Escher's original, he's holding an "impossible cube", but in our version he's holding an impossible LEGO square. Well, OK, not quite impossible if you've got a decent pair of pliers (ouch). I'm not sure if he's bemused at the construction, or appalled at what we did to the plastic to get it like that.



An early experiment. How can we get the columns to line up?



Do this to LEGO bricks and you get locked up...



The chef's hat was suggested by my wife Lesley; it matches the headgear in the Escher picture surprisingly well.


Close up of the two men on the ladder, and the first clue about what is going on...


I'm very pleased with these domes. The half-brick offsets were a bit tricky and I only just had enough light grey tiles for the edges.


The view from above, giving the whole game away. No, the diagonal "pillars" aren't even parallel. And the lower blue floor is not rectangular.


There is exactly one correct viewpoint, about two feet away from the near corner of the lower blue floor. And this isn't quite it.


From the correct viewpoint, the supporting white pillar at the left is hidden behind the diagonal beam that it meets at the top. You can also see a half-brick gap in the lower wall; the end wall with the barred window protrudes by half a brick.


Another shot giving the game away


And another.


All M. C. Escher works (C) Cordon Art, Baarn, the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The official M.C. Escher web site is worth a visit. In particular they have a "virtual ride" through "Belvedere".

All other pictures on this page are Copyright © A. Lipson 2002.

LEGO ® is a trademark of The LEGO Group, who have nothing to do with this or any of my other LEGO-related web pages.

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This page last modified 1st April 2005