Lego Tensegrity Sculpture

We recently moved back to our old house in New Jersey; a nice side effect is that I was able to revisit my old Lego collection. I’m not a full-blown AFOL1, but let’s say that Lego was a huge part of my childhood, and I still have some fondness for it.

Anyway, when I retrieved my bricks over Thanksgiving break, I of course felt the urge to build something. So, I decided to make a “tensegrity sculpture,” because they look really cool. The idea is to suspend something in the air using only a few chains attached to a base below it. At first glance, it seems like this should be impossible, but the physics checks out after you think about the design a bit more.

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My Lego tensegrity sculpture. See if you can figure out how it works! (Click on any image to view at full resolution.)

The basic design (something attached to three chains under tension) is not hard to establish once you know the principle, but I iterated on the aesthetic details numerous times before settling on a version that I was happy with. It’s quite heavy on the SNOT2, and I’m quite pleased with how some of the pieces fit together. I’m still trying to come up with some “symbolic meaning” for the gold pieces at the top: maybe a commentary on the illusory nature of wealth? Something to do with “treasure in heaven?” I digress.

Of course, I’m not the first person to come up with a Lego tensegrity sculpture. My favorite version is due to Jason Allemann at JK Brickworks. Actually, all of Jason’s work is incredible.

  1. AFOL stands for Adult Fan of Lego, for the benefit of those who are not into the Lego world and its dizzying array of acronyms.↩︎

  2. SNOT stands for Studs Not on Top.↩︎