Spirit of the Bo-Kaap

Spirit of the Bo-Kaap

The Model

The model, commissioned by the LEGO Certified Store, was designed and built by Peter Furstenberg, a South African adult fan of LEGO. The model contains roughly 13750 pieces and celebrates one of Cape Town’s most iconic regions, the Bo-Kaap, characterised by its colourful houses around the district. The model contains an artist’s impression of 5 iconic houses in Wale Street, a block away from the Bo-Kaap Museum. The houses were chosen for their vibrancy and colour, capturing the colourful essence of the region.

It took 110 hours of design time to create this model, using Studio. Every building contains detailed exteriors as well as interiors, telling fun and vibrant stories. The longer you stare, the more you notice.

Sorting more than thirteen thousand pieces is no easy feat! It took nearly 40 hours to sort and separate the pieces provided by LEGO for this build, meticulously making sure everything is there. Finally, the build took around 30-35 hours to complete.

spirit of the Bo-Kaap

History of the Bo-Kaap

The Bo-Kaap (“above the Cape” in Afrikaans) is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town.

Bo-Kaap is known for its brightly coloured homes and cobblestoned streets. The area is traditionally a multicultural neighbourhood. According to the South African Heritage Resources Agency, the area contains the largest concentration of pre-1850 architecture in South Africa and is the oldest surviving residential neighbourhood in Cape Town.

In 1760 Jan de Waal bought a block of land at the foot of Signal Hill, between Dorp and Wale Streets. A year later he obtained an adjacent parcel, extending his holding to Rose/Chiappini/Shortmarket Street. Starting in 1763, de Waal built several small “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) on this land, which he leased to his slaves. The first three are at 71 Wale Street (now the Bokaap Museum), above Buitengracht Street, and 42 Leeuwen Street respectively.

The model as displayed in the Cape Town LCS in Canal Walk.

Because the aboriginal tribes in the (Cape Town) area resisted the Dutch, slaves were initially imported from Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Africa, hence the name “Malay”. Between 1790 and 1825 more housing in both the Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian styles were built for the expanding population of tradesmen, craftsmen, and artisans. More Muslims continued to move into the area, including a wave of political exiles from Java and Ceylon circa 1820. After the emancipation in 1834 and the arrival of liberated slaves, developers constructed numerous rows of narrow, deep huurhuisjes.

The brightly coloured facades are attributed to an expression of freedom by the new homeowners, as all the houses were painted white while on lease.

Preservation of the area began in 1943 when 15 houses were restored by a group of prominent citizens, with the support of the Historical Monuments Commission. In 1966 a portion of the area was designated as a National Monument. From 1971 the City Council began restoring houses and streetscapes, with 48 units completed by 1975.

[Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo-Kaap]

The archway

The archway is another gem containing a special photography project by Peter, featuring many of the minifigs in the model. It’s just another way the layers of complexity comes to life. LEGO has been using yellow for many years as the base colour to represent people of all race, colours and creed.

About the designer

Peter Furstenberg has been collecting LEGO for nearly 20 years, focussing on the Star Wars and modular themes from LEGO. It’s only in 2018 his attention turned to MOC builds after encouraged by members of the zaLUG. A whole new passion ignited for Peter, as his attention turned to designing and building his own modular buildings. Besides modular builds, he also has a passion for vignettes.

Stories have always been at the heart of Peter’s builds, and “Spirit of the Bo-Kaap” is no exception. The model is filled with detail and stories everywhere you look.

Peter now builds commissioned MOCs for a variety of clients.

Thank you

Thank you to Robert Greenstein for taking a leap of faith in commissioning this model. It has been a pleasure working on this project and making it a reality with you, LEGO and the LEGO Certified Store.

A big thank you to Paul Doran for his insight into the project and encouragement on the build. Another big thank you to Joe Kirsten for printing the special tiles used in the build. Every print in the model is special.

A shoutout goes to the South African Bricklink owners that had a role to play in this build without actually knowing they did.

  • Cape Brick Fairy
  • HJK Bricks
  • JE Bricks
  • Middies Brickstore

  • Nagster Bricks
  • Ody’s Bricks
  • Rainbow Bricks
  • The Brick Cafe
  • Elna’s Mini Mart


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