Earlier this summer, our old friend Nannan Zhang recreated a the quintessential American playground of the sort he’s experienced as a new father. For his latest LEGO achievement, Nannan draws on his childhood memories of growing up in China in the 90s to create “A park from yesteryear.” Even though it’s an amalgam and not a recreation of a specific park, the traditional architecture, weeping willows, lotus plants on jade water, and swan boats make Nannan’s memories so specific and tangible.

A park from yesteryear

Nannan pulls his usual magic trick of making clever technique look effortless. The hexagonal pavilion, where older residents share snacks and gossip, is a lovely build on its own. The balls stacked on rollers skates make for excellent decorative elements, and the heart tiles in the eaves are a great detail. One of my favorite techniques is seen along the bottom of the railing where curved slopes fit neatly under window arches, adding a subtle texture to the stonework. The cotton candy machine is a very clever and instantly recognizable mini build. I also admire the attention paid to the lotus plants, with leaves popping from the water at angles, and some flowers and leaves aloft on long stems, differentiating them from lilly pads. But the stars of the show are the swan boats, which hold a secret…


They move!

Nannan uses a motorized magnet system from gobrick to make the swan boats glide across the jade-colored lake. It’s a wonderful effect that turns a beautiful memory into a living scene. Nannan’s lovely creation stirs memories of visiting Beijing and exploring its beautiful parks with my own young child. Thank you for sharing this precious LEGO trip to yesteryear.

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