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There are a number of architectural modeling kits that can engage elementary-aged kids, teenagers, and adults. Out of all the kits included in this article, the LEGO Architecture Sets are our top pick. With numerous modeling kits, LEGO Architecture is an ideal choice for older children (age 12+) and adults. Our favorite set is the LEGO Architecture Studio because of its intricate details and a convincing replica of famous Paris landmarks.
- Our Top Picks for Teenagers and Adults
- Best for Teens & Adults – LEGO Architecture Studio
- Best for Harry Potter Fans – LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle
- Best Budget Option – LEGO Architecture London Skyline
- Best for Realistic Architectural Modeling – Arckit 360 Architect Model Building Kit
- Best for City Planning – Arckit Masterplan
- Best 3D Puzzle – CubicFun National Geographic 3D Puzzles
- Our Top Picks for Children Under 12
- What to Consider When Buying an Architecture Modeling Kit
- Frequently Asked Questions
Related Post: The 10 Best STEM Toys in 2020 for Kids
Our Top Picks for Teenagers and Adults
The LEGO Architecture Studio is equipped with all the tools and inspiration to unleash your creative side. This kit is best for older teens or adults. It includes over 1,200 monochromatic pieces as well as a 272-page guidebook with inspiration and instructions written by influential architects. It also comes with helpful sorting trays. As with all LEGO sets, the LEGO Architecture Studio is compatible with all other LEGO building sets so you can continue to expand and refine your designs as you collect additional models.
The LEGO Architecture and Creator lines have a number of fantastic kits and it was daunting to choose just one set to highlight, so we would like to share three other kits that we love:
First, The LEGO Architecture Paris Skyline modeling kit features the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Grand Palais, and Champs-Elysées. These recognizable landmarks are modeled in intricate detail that only a LEGO Architecture kit can deliver so this kit would make a great gift for a pre-teen. With 649 pieces, it isn’t terribly difficult to build. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you might want to consider some of the other LEGO options below.
The LEGO Architecture Trafalgar Square 21045 (1197 pieces) is an intricate interpretation of the Trafalgar Square in London. This modeling kit features the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, two Trafalgar Square fountains, four sculptures, and even London buses. With 1197 pieces, this kit is a bit more involved than the Paris Skyline set and is most suitable for adults.
With over 4,000 pieces and a fully functioning track, the LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster Building Kit is a dream for teenage and adult LEGO fans. It’s no surprise that this kit won a 2019 Toy of the Year award. If this kit wasn’t great already, it can be upgraded with LEGO Boost and LEGO Power Features to motorize your roller coaster!
The LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle kit has over 6,000 pieces and is currently the largest LEGO set on the market! It includes figurines of all the main characters of the Harry Potter series and an unparalleled amount of authentic detail to help you relive your favorite stories. Celebrate in the Great Hall, take a potions class, enter Hagrid’s hut, and explore the Chamber of Secrets. There is even a functioning Whomping Willow tree! It’s no surprise that this incredible set won a 2019 Toy of the Year Award from The Toy Association.
While the LEGO Architecture London Skyline kit has fewer pieces (468 to be exact) and comes in at a lower price-point, it delivers all the same intricate details of other LEGO Architecture sets. The London Eye model is beautiful in this kit. It is a simpler build and thus would be well-suited for younger teenagers.
Arckit is another great brand for architecture model kits for adults and kids. If you are looking for more of a free-form experience, the Arckit 360 Architect Model Building Kit is a great modeling kit. It is well suited for adults and teenagers who are interested in architecture and design. Take into consideration that this kit offers a modern look. If that is not your aesthetic, other modeling kit options may be a better option. Additional Arckit kits can be purchased to expand the design capabilities. The system of connecting components is less intuitive than LEGO pieces and may require some time to get proficient in building.
Another great Arckit kit is the Arckit Masterplan Architecture Modeling Kit, which allows the user to plan an entire city. The kit includes components to build highrise buildings, neighborhoods, sports arenas, campuses, and more. The Arckit Masterplan Modeling Kit is a perfect match for an aspiring urban planner.
The National Geographic 3D Puzzles Barcelona Model of the Sagrada Familia is a great group activity for friends and family. CubicFun has several models of 3D puzzles available, but we especially like the intricate detail of the Sagrada Familia model. With 184 pieces, it will probably take an hour or two to complete. Compared to other products we have highlighted in this buyer’s guide, this puzzle is less about design and engineering than it is about building a model of a beautiful architectural masterpiece.
Our Top Picks for Children Under 12
With fewer small pieces and less complex structures, LEGO City sets are a great alternative to LEGO Architecture sets for younger children. Our top pick for a LEGO City set is the LEGO City Firestation 60215. This architecture set for kids includes a 3-story fire station tower with a separate operational garage for the included fire truck.
LEGO sets are fantastic, but you might feel constrained by the model itself. The KEVA Structures Plank Set provides all the materials necessary for open-ended play. It is also great for training the fine motor skills of a younger child. It’s available in both 200- and 400-pieces. This plank set is simple, yet powerful for exploring the basics of engineering, geometry, and design. The larger 400-plank set would also be a great addition to a classroom to foster cooperative play amongst students.
The Arckit Mini Kids Architectural Model Design Tool is equipped with the building blocks to construct your own dream home. Keep in mind that Arckit models may be a bit more difficult to connect than LEGOs for small fingers.
Arckit also offers a kid’s version of its city-planning modeling kit we reviewed above:
The Arckit Architectural Model Building Kit: Little Architect is great for a younger child that may be looking to design an entire city. With available add-ons you can expand your city to whatever specifications you like.
K’Nex building kits are the best architectural modeling toy for the classroom. With multiple lines (Education, Kid K’Nex, Lincoln Logs, and TinkerToys, etc) that target a variety of age ranges, there is a set that is best for your classroom. Our top pick is the K’Nex Education STEM Exploration Swing Ride Building Set which includes step-by-step instructions as well as a battery-powered motor.
Although instructions are included, models can be built with various levels of complexity utilizing the various length rods, various gears, and a multitude of connectors, allowing students to create a model that reflects their imagination. This set includes three experiment guides for planning an inquiry-based curriculum.
Our runner-up for this category would be the K’Nex Education Introduction to Simple Machines Gear Set which allows students to engage with simple machines and be introduced to gears. Like the Swing Ride Building Set, this comes with curriculum materials (lesson plans, experiments, etc.). This set is great for grades 3 through 5.
What to Consider When Buying an Architecture Modeling Kit
What sort of model you want to build
Whether you are looking to replicate your favorite architectural landmark, build your own dream home, or engage your child in learning about engineering, geometry, and physics, it is important to take into account what you want to accomplish with your model. A LEGO architecture kit may be best for detailed modeling of a landmark, while an Arckit may work well for designing your dream home, and a K’Nex set may be best for early introductions to STEM concepts in a classroom setting.
Age of children (or adults) who will be designing and building
Adults may want a more complex architectural modeling toy that is more complex to build and may take hours or days to complete. Younger children may benefit from fewer smaller pieces and less complicated builds. Additionally, LEGO kits tend to be easier to maneuver than some other model kits like Arckit.
Modeling sets you already own
Do you want your new set to be compatible with other sets you already own? For example, LEGO sets of different lines (Architecture, Creator, City, etc.) are compatible with one another. Once you’ve built your architectural masterpiece according to the instructions, you might want to build a creation of your own and the ability to mix, match, and combine sets may interest you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do architects use for models?
Architects use several materials for modeling their designs in addition to software programs and sketches. One of the most common materials is foam boards. Wooden blocks, cardboard, and polystyrene are also commonly used.
What is the FIRST LEGO League?
The FIRST LEGO League is an international competition for elementary and middle-school children. These competitions focus on solving scientific and real-world problems, with a focus on integrating STEM principles. There is even a robotics competition in which competitors program LEGO Mindstorm robots.
Are all LEGO sets compatible with one another?
With some minor exceptions as to the ways you can combine LEGO and LEGO Duplo bricks, the answer is YES! Once you have completed a kit, you can combine it with other sets you own to create your own masterpiece.
What is the largest LEGO set?
Until recently, the LEGO Creator Expert Taj Mahal model was the largest and most complex set available, at 5,923 pieces. However crown for the LEGO set with the most pieces has now passed to the LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle with 6,020 pieces!
What is Arckit?
Arckit is a “freeform architectural modeling system” that is used by both hobbyists and professional architects and designers to bring their ideas to life. There are a number of kits available as well as add-on components to enable you to create whatever design you wish.
Last update on 2020-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API