Brynjar Karl Birgisson, who is a teenager who lives in Iceland, is on the autism spectrum. He is also fascinated by the Titanic and used to love Legos. Seven years ago, he decided to combine his passions and construct what became the world’s largest replica of the Titanic made from Legos.
Birgisson’s ambitious project took 700 hours over an eleven-month period. He also needed around 56,000 Lego blocks to complete his ship, though that number skyrocketed to 65,000 after one of the ship’s front parts broke, according to The Guardian. When he finished, the result was five feet tall and 24 feet long.
Now known as “the Lego boy,” Birgisson has become internationally famous. His model has been touring the world. It has been displayed at museums in Norway, Sweden, and Germany. Since October 2019, Birgisson’s model has been on display at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It will be there until the end of 2020.
The museum posted a Q&A session with Birgisson in which they discussed his project. At one point, Birgisson admitted that he became frustrated and wanted to give up on a couple of occasions because the stern collapsed. He also talked about how his mother and grandfather helped him with his project.
His grandfather helped him with the calculations to ensure that his model was built to scale. He started with the assumption that a 4 cm Lego man was equivalent to a human of 1.75 meters (5 feet eight inches). That told him how large the model had to be and how many Lego bricks would be needed to make it. Birgisson’s mother helped him with those aspects of the project that required an adult, like online crowdfunding and finding a warehouse for the construction of the model. She also helped him handle interviews.
Birgisson later gave a TED Talk about his project and the obstacles he needed to overcome in order to achieve it. He has also written a book, My Autistic X Factor, in which he defines an “x factor” as a special talent. Birgisson believes that everybody has an x factor that makes them special; it just may take them time to find it.
Birgisson also has a website that describes his latest project: a documentary entitled How the Titanic Became My Lifeboat. The documentary is about Birgisson’s model and how his project helped him. It premiered in March 2020 at a local movie theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, according to Attractions Magazine. Birgisson hopes his documentary will raise awareness of autism and encourage schools and businesses to be more accepting and respectful of the needs that people with autism have.
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