The universal appeal of building blocks is painfully apparent with the success of Minecraft in recent years and how insanely difficult it is to restrain yourself from creating when Lego is placed in front of you. German artist Jan Vormann started his project, aptly named Dispatchwork in 2007. Almost a decade later, Vormann is still travelling the world using Lego to repair crumbling walls and monuments. Since then, he’s also had volunteers join him in his mission in dozens of cities across the world.
Completely drawn in by seeing makeshift repairs that had been made to crumbling walls across Europe, something clicked in the mind of Vormann and brought the idea of Dispatchwork to a contemporary art festival in a small Italian village. Although his Lego repairs are very visually appealing, the project’s origins put function over appearance. Bringing himself (and everyone else) to their childhood, Vormann recognized that imagination goes a long way in building with Lego. Many creations we made as kids probably didn’t look that great, but we all knew what they were. Give Lego to the children of today and you’ll see the same thing.
“I don’t enjoy living in dull and grey cities. Do you? Have you noticed that toys for kids are generally very shiny and colorful?” The Dispatchwork Manifesto
Using Lego to patch up crumbling walls is almost a decade old project that is still quite active and has expanded its reach to major cities globally. Vormann has coined those who have joined his mission “Dispatchers” and their numbers are rising.
Considering their temporary nature, it makes us wonder just how many walls are currently sporting the bright Lego patches. As soon as a crumbling wall deteriorates even the slightest bit more, the bricks fall out of place — a reminder that there is still a place for creativity in cities, even if for a short time.