Lego designs new campus with eye on attracting creatives

An artist's impression of toy maker Lego's 54,000 sq m new grounds in western Denmark, which will host 2,000 employees when completed in 2021.
An artist's impression of toy maker Lego's 54,000 sq m new grounds in western Denmark, which will host 2,000 employees when completed in 2021.PHOTO: LEGO

COPENHAGEN • The architects working on Lego's new campus in western Denmark are designing a structure that its chief executive hopes will make waves as far afield as Singapore.

Lego's 54,000 sq m new grounds will host 2,000 employees when completed in 2021.

According to chief executive Niels Christiansen, it will help the company compete with the likes of Apple or Nike for digital, analytic and creative professionals.

"People will get back to London or Singapore and talk about it," he said.

From its base in Billund, one of the world's most successful toy makers is designing its Googleplex-style headquarters which will have play areas, collaborative work spaces, gyms and cafes.

But it is more than just a trendy design project. The goal of making international talent feel welcome comes as increasingly strict Danish immigration policies dissuade skilled workers from heading to the country.

Successive Danish governments have introduced tight restrictions on immigration. That has led businesses to complain about a lack of the kinds of qualifications they need to get ahead.

According to the latest survey from expat network InterNations, Denmark is the second-hardest country to settle in, after Kuwait.

Though the Lego chief executive did not discuss Danish immigration policy, he said that creating a hospitable environment was important.

"A building like this does a lot for the retention" of talent and for allowing "really creative people to grow", he said in a phone interview on Monday, after completing the first phase of the project.

There are currently people of more than 50 nationalities working for Lego in Billund.

Visitors to the campus are greeted by huge yellow bricks perched haphazardly on the roof of the structure and familiar mesh patterns on its walls.

Mr Christiansen said the expectation was that the design of the new headquarters will lead to real productivity gains. But he also noted the building's unusual look.

"It's a building that a child would have built," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Lego designs new campus with eye on attracting creatives'. Print Edition | Subscribe