Learn about Philippine architecture with iMake History Fortress

Art Samantha Gonzales | Background Photo Allan Jay Quesada

Words by

Digital Reporter

Brick on top of brick. It could describe the fortresses in Intramuros, or playing with LEGOs.

At the iMake History Fortress at Baluarte de Santa Barbara at Fort Santiago, you can enjoy both at the same time. Intramuros Administration, in collaboration with the Embassy of Denmark and Felta Multimedia, Inc., the exclusive partner of LEGO Education in the Philippines, turned what was once a dungeon for Filipino dissidents into a learning hub for architecture.

Using LEGOs, artists and students made scale models of exemplary Filipino‑Spanish buildings, some which were not able to stand the ravages of time. There are also examples of LEGO robotics, like a spinning windmill and a life‑sized Philippine eagle that can extend its seven‑foot wingspan. There’s also a hub where you can create LEGO buildings of your own, with sample patterns like the National Museum and the Manila Central Post Office.

Architecture students from the University of Santo Tomas won first place and most innovative at the iMake History Fortress Architecture Scale Model Competition, with their scale model of the Lourdes Church. Also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, the original church structure that once housed two sculptures of the Virgin Mary was not able to withstand the bombings of Intramuros during World War II. Using the blueprints provided to them by Felta, UST students were able to make a 1:100 scale model of the old church structure. Their model, along the other top ten entries, will be on permanent display at lower floor of the iMake History Fortress.

“LEGO is a good tool for learning history and architecture,” said Emman Estevan, part of the UST team that created the Lourdes Church model, during an interview with SparkUp at the iMake History Fortress preview last March 19. “In other countries they’re already use LEGOs to visualize structures. Here in the Philippines it’s not being fully integrated in the architecture curriculum probably because LEGOs are expensive here.”


It took Estevan and his team a week of planning and a combined 48 hours of work to build the scale model. Then they had to make a two minute video to go with their work to submit to the contest. He looks forward to using LEGO again in future projects. “At first it was hard, but as we progressed we understood the pattern and it made it easier for us to work.”

LEGOs can be an important tool in learning architecture and architecture, said LEGO Education regional manager for Southeast Asia Brian Dam. “LEGO is a very good way of letting your creativity go and building things that you’ve seen in real life,” Dam told SparkUp. “I think combining that with the teaching of history is a strong combination.”

For the LEGO executive, creativity can save the world. “I believe that creativity is key and not to sound apocalyptic, but if we are to survive as a species we need to think creatively,” said Dam. “We have limited oil, we have limited resources in general so we need to be creative and find solutions to maintain and develop, otherwise it will go in another way that we don’t like.”