Sharif Alshurafa is known on social media as “The Lego Architect.”
The 40-year-old Regina man earned the title building model homes for North Ridge Development and several private homeowners in southern Saskatchewan.
These days, he’s preparing for the 10th annual Brickspro event, organized by the Saskatchewan Lego Users Group (SLUG), which he joined several years ago. The Moose Jaw Western Development Museum will host the event on July 30 and 31 — the first one since the pandemic.
At a past Brickspro event, someone suggested he ask local homebuilders if they wanted scale models of their projects built.
“I laughed. He said, ‘Seriously.’ And he explained to me why it might work. Then I said, ‘OK, sure. You know what? I’m gonna try,'” said Alshurafa.
After several emails, North Ridge Development said they were very interested. When asked how accurate he could build the model, Alshurafa said he could guarantee them 90 per cent.
“I built the first one. And he told me, ‘OK, I’m gonna give you another project.’ This is how I was discovered.”
Growing up in Jordan, Alshurafa’s father, an architect, introduced him to the childhood toy. It was then he learned how to read blueprints and scale things to miniature proportions. Alshurafa’s interest faded when he became a teenager. But when he discovered SLUG’s Facebook page in his 30s, his passion for Lego was reawakened.
In the evenings, he puts on techno trance music, grabs a cup of McDonald’s coffee and hunkers down in his basement to focus on building Lego. Before he knows it, he said, it’s nearly midnight.
“I don’t know how those four or five hours go by so fast. Why? Because I was just enjoying myself and keeping myself busy,” he said.
Alshurafa says he finds building gives him a sense of accomplishment and allows his creativity to unfold. In 2016, SLUG elected his entry of a fully landscaped mansion, including interior, as the best in the town category, which was mostly architectural builds.
“I imagined myself inside that [Lego] house, living there,” he said. “Honestly, I can provide bright ideas on how to use every single space in that house and how to make it extremely efficient without any wasted space.”
Each model takes two to three months to complete, depending on its complexity. Models take between 1,500 to 2,000 bricks to build. Alshurafa says he’s lost count how many models he’s created over the years.
He’s built and torn down dozens of models because he doesn’t have the room to keep all of them. He says he’d need a warehouse if he did, as most models are about three by three feet in size.
Melissa Meyer, the chair of SLUG, says the group of 45 members unites people from all walks of life through their love of Lego. The group has single men, couple builders, female builders and senior builders. They include engineers, accountants, architects, single moms, pastors and teachers.
“Lego that has brought us together. It’s really cool. Just to have something that was really meant to be a children’s toy, bring a group of adults together and create such a bond, that some of these people have become my best friends,” said Meyer.
She says she’s looking forward to reconnecting with fellow members of SLUG and also to present their Lego creations to others.
“One thing that we’re excited to see as well is how the public is going to react.”
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