Modular City Layout

Example modular city layout from Brickworld Chicago-2015.

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It is designed to make it as easy as possible to contribute. The entire base (streets, train tracks, etc.) is already built in sections, and is assembled into one or more city blocks, according to display space available at an individual event.

All contributions built to modular standards, on 16×32 or 32×32 base plates, can simply be dropped into place on the base.

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Building Base/Street Sections

If your ambitions go beyond contributing one (or several) modular buildings to the layout, and you want to build a whole city block, you’ll need to know how to construct the base/street sections. This will tell you how.

We start with the old standard city street base plates, preferably the 7-Stud Road with White Sidelines Pattern series, but when those are exhausted, or in less urbanized areas, the 9-Stud Road (without white sidelines) will also work fine.  Then we raise our layout above the ordinary with curbs and sidewalks.  The height is generally one brick (for edging and structural support) plus one plate.  In some areas, like the sidewalks, there is an additional “finish” layer of tiles.

For the curb, we use this piece:  Brick, Modified 1 x 4 x 1 1/3 No Studs, Curved Top in Light Bluish Gray.

These pics show assembly details of sample sections:

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The sections inside the streets, that the buildings rest on, are just standard 32×32 base plates with edging and a cross-hatch of filler/support bricks.

LEGO’s Modular Building Standards

For those who don’t have an official LEGO modular boxed set, here are the essential points of the standard, so that your buildings will fit within our Modular City Layout display.

  • Your structure should be built on a standard 32×32 base plate or a 16×32 half base plate.
    (Note:  We can accommodate a limited number of larger buildings, but they should be done on some multiple of the above standard plates, NOT on the extra large 48×48 base plates, since those are not easily accommodated in our layout of city blocks.)
  • The typical modular building is 16×16 or 16×32, centered on the plate from front to back. That means the standard inset is 8 studs front and back.  A bit of variation is acceptable, but the absolute minimum inset is 4 studs at the front for sidewalk.
  • Your sidewalk should be tiled.  The outer-most line of sidewalk should be 1x light bley tiles, the 2nd line should be 1×2 dark bley tiles, and the rest should be 2×2 dark bley tiles.
    Within the second row of tiles you will usually find an occasional 1×2 modified tile, grill, serving as a drainage plate.  You will want to skip the street lamps, as they are included in the pre-built street/sidewalk sections of the modular city layout.  (Note:  You can also vary the color, etc of your sidewalk tiles, but it should be done knowing what the standard is, so that your design will be compatible with what will lie on either side of your building.)
  • Standard height of each floor in a modular building is between seven and nine rows of brick.  Often the first or ground floor is nine rows high and the second and third floors are seven rows high.  Exceptions to this floor height are fine, but good designs will have a reason for varying from this standard.
  • Standard modular buildings are built with side walls flush to the edges of the base plate. They include a pair of one-hole, 1×2 technic bricks on each side wall in the bottom row of bricks, positioned so that the building can be joined with the next one using technic pins. See pics below for position of those bricks (covering studs 10 & 11 from the front and back). We don’t actually join the buildings in our layout using this method, but if you are designing to the standard, you should include this standard join.
    Variation in building width is fine within our modular city layout standard, but should be done knowing that the building on either side of yours will most likely be built to the edge of the base plate, and that their side walls may not be intended to be visible.

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