Let's start by making one thing clear: what follows is an account of a big marketing exercise by a major multinational corporation. But, as these things go, we think the outcome of this particular marketing exercise was pretty interesting, so we're covering it anyway.
This coming Sunday, as you may be aware, is the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence. Over the last half century, Singapore has come on rather a long way, becoming one of the most developed economies in Asia.
So as part of the city's panoply of birthday celebrations, Lego Singapore ran an experiment it called "Rebuild", in essence asking how Singapore will change over the next half century.
First, Lego asked local "adult fans of lego" (yes, this is a thing; they even have an acronym) to build their vision of the future of Singapore out of the miniature blocks. The AFOLs, as one might predict, built a vista of towering, futuristic skyscrapers:
Then, Lego invited in some kids (KFOLs, we assume) to rebuild the city. Encouraged, we hope, by their own instincts, rather than by hovering Lego representatives, the kids added trees, animals, parks, food trucks, and people to the dystopian landscape.
Here's one park the kids created:
Below is Legos' video of the project. In one particularly satisfying moment, a child yanks off a white silo structure and thrusts it aside. Another installs a brightly coloured house next to a soulless office block so a worker "can get home faster".
While the project is a little gimmicky, it does contain lessons for urban planning. The children seemed to have a more rounded view of a city than the adults: perhaps because kids are generally more selfish in their outlook, they never forgot how the cityscape would affect the individual who has to travel a long way for work, or who wants to buy a hot dog as they're walking along.
City planners – in Singapore, and elsewhere – would do well to do the same.