Iolani Palace

Architectural builds, like the marvelous Iolani Palace, are some of our favourite commissions to take on at Playwell Bricks. They’re loaded with opportunities to get creative modelling signature design elements and details, and on top of that, we get to learn a little piece of history – especially with a building as storied as Honolulu’s Iolani Palace. When we received this request, Jason couldn’t wait to hit the drawing board!

Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii

History of the Iolani Palace

Today’s Iolani Palace is the second building to bear its name. Completed in 1882, it was commissioned by the globetrotting king David Kalākaua to modernize his seat of government with a grand structure inspired by the impressive palaces he toured while travelling across Europe. The resulting architectural style, known as American Florentine, is unique to Iolani Palace and combines European palace design with local Hawaiian influence to create a palace truly worthy of a king.

When the Kamehameha Dynasty ended in 1893, Iolani Palace carried on its regal role, serving as an enduring symbol for leadership in Hawaii. It became the capitol building for the Provisional Government, then the Republic, the Territory, and finally the State of Hawaii right up until the present-day Hawaii State Capitol opened in 1969. After its retirement from public service, the palace was restored and opened as a museum in 1978, and Hawaiians and visitors alike can still visit today to get a first-hand look at this pivotal piece of island history.


Deep Meaning Behind the Beauty

Behind the veneer of majesty that envelopes the Iolani Palace, there is a deep meaning for all native Hawaiin people. This building represents their legacy and, more to the point, how that legacy was lost, and how they have overcome those adversities to thrive. Our client put it best in her own words “For me, this is not just a build. It’s where I came from as a Native Hawaiian. It’s the pride of the past and the hopefulness for the future for Native Hawaiians. When I look at it, I have a sense of pride of what my ancestors accomplished and also a sense of sadness that it was taken away from them too.”

If you wish to explore the deep history of this palace please check out this website https://www.iolanipalace.org/

Iolani Palace LEGO model
The model of the ‘Iolani Palace built from LEGO bricks


Building a Palace in LEGO


With such an eventful past, this majestic building deserved a truly exceptional LEGO® adaptation, and Jason was more than inspired enough to deliver. In fact, the design phase of this project was completed within a week of hard work, and it’s packed from top to bottom with details faithful to the real-life building.

Some of Jason’s favourite build techniques employed in Iolani Palace include nested panel elements to create the grand staircase, various inverted elements to form the characteristic columns and arches of the promenades, and sideways construction to capture the characteristic shapes of the tower roofs. Building at reduced scale is a challenging exercise in technique and parts selection, and Jason nailed it, bringing all the American Florentine details to life.

Iolani Palace LEGO set


Every Detail Matters

It’s a Playwell Bricks design through and through, featuring custom Hawaiian flags as a finishing touch. Iolani Palace is built on a modular base ready for expansion to potentially include the guard barracks and coronation pavilion for an expanded diorama of the palace site – and perhaps someday the archives buildings, Hawaii State Public Library, or even the modern Hawaii State Capitol located just next door!

As always in LEGO®, the possibilities for building are endless and there are always new ideas waiting to become reality. If you love our model of Iolani Palace and are interested in a custom LEGO® model of your own, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us today for more information or to request a quote.


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