Joe - Das Wunderkind
Joe - Das Wunderkind
An interview with Joe Bryant
Joe Bryant is a wunderkind. Most 10 year olds dedicate their days to avoiding homework and playing FIFA. I'm sure Joe does this as well, but what makes him special is the fact that he builds spookily accurate scale models of Bundesliga stadia entirely out of Lego. Goethe said Architecture is frozen music and Joe Bryant is composing symphonies from plastic bricks.
His beautiful work has already been noticed by several clubs, the German National team and the Bundesliga itself. He has received gifts, invitations to show his work at the (real) stadiums and numerous retweets, likes and comments from all of the official channels.
Joe is making the world a little more colourful and fun to be in. Here the young craftsman speaks to Football And The City about his incredibly ambitious project and how he began his odyssey into the plastic architecture of German Football.
FATC: Joe, you've undertaken an extremely interesting project in building all of the Bundesliga stadia out of Lego. What made you decide to this & why specifically the Bundesliga?
Joe: I started playing with Lego when I was about 5 but I wanted to build my own stuff rather than just the sets. I love football and visiting stadiums so I decided to have a go at that. The first one I did was Ipswich, because I support them. But then I thought I would build the Bundesliga as no one else was doing it and I love German football.
FATC: What is it that makes the Bundesliga so special to you & how did you come to fall in love with it in the first place?
Joe: We were on holiday in Turkey and my dad was trying to find somewhere to watch Norwich v Ipswich. But all the bars were showing German football. We started watching those games with a group of Germans and it was really exciting football and a great atmosphere - so much better than in England. We met fans from Hamburg, Dortmund and Bayern Munich, so we began watching the Bundesliga on television when we returned home. We went over to Germany three times last season and watched Cologne twice, along with Schalke, Monchengladbach and Dortmund v Bayern in the Super Cup. The best trip was to see Schalke. They asked me to bring my stadium over and I appeared on the pitch with it while the teams were warming up. I was on the giant scoreboard and I met some of the players which was cool. They are a fantastic club and the atmosphere is incredible. I hope to go there again soon because the fans are fantastic and the club is very welcoming. In fact, all the clubs have been great. Every time I have built a stadium, they have been very helpful and Cologne and Schalke have sent gifts which was really cool. Those two clubs are very special. Schalke was an unbelievable day and Cologne have a cute goat as a mascot! You also get to eat lots of bratwurst!
Joe Bryant At Schalke
With his stadium & some new found friends!
FATC: Once you have finished building them all, do you plan to start another Lego stadium project?
Joe: It's going to take a bit of time to do them all. I've completed Schalke, Cologne, Monchengladbach and Leverkusen but there are still plenty to do and unfortunately Cologne got relegated this season, so that adds another one. Next on my list is FC Nuremberg who have just got promoted and have big links with Schalke, and then probably Fortuna Dusseldorf, which looks like it is built out of Lego inside! I'm not sure what I will do when I finish. We visited quite a few stadiums on our trips so I could do the lower leagues in Germany. There are some really cool grounds out there. But we've also been to places like PSV Eindhoven, Gent and Antwerp, so I could build some of them. I get a lot of likes from South America as well and a lot of people want me to build their stadiums in Argentina and Brazil. Someone suggested the Azteca in Mexico but that's got the Coca-Cola logo in the seats, which would be so hard! A Facebook site in Argentina used two of my videos and they got more than 600,000 views so maybe that's what I should do after Germany.
FATC: How long does each stadium take to complete & roughly how many Lego bricks do you use for each one?
Joe: I reckon they take between a fortnight and a month to build. It used to be a week but they have got bigger and more complicated. It is sometimes difficult finding the right bricks and colours and we always end up needing a different part. The last two stadiums have used more than 2,000 bricks and plates. They are about 1.5m long and around 1.2m wide but we just about managed to get Schalke into the car. We got a few funny looks at Dover as I was squeezed in the back with a giant stadium and my brother was scrunched at the front. Schalke was difficult because it has a giant scoreboard hanging from the roof, so I had to find a way of supporting the weight of the Lego. And Leverkusen was tricky because the roof is round and Lego is square!
FATC: Do you have any plans to become a stadium architect when you grow up?
Joe: I would love to be a footballer but who knows? Designing stadiums would be pretty cool as well. I'd make sure every stadium was different though. Too many in England are now the same. That's why Germany is good because they are pretty much unique. Or maybe I could be a Lego builder for Legoland.
FATC: Gerd Müller or Thomas Müller?
Joe: I've never heard of Gerd Muller. I know there's a Muller at Hamburg, is it him? I will go with Thomas Muller.