Sharif Alshurafa is known on social media as “The Lego Architect”.
The 40-year-old from Regina has earned the title of model home builder for North Ridge Development and several private owners in southern Saskatchewan.
These days, he’s gearing up for the 10th annual Brickspro event, hosted by the Saskatchewan Lego Users Group (SLUG), which he joined several years ago. The Moose Jaw Western Development Museum will host the event July 30-31 — the first since the pandemic.
At a past Brickspro event, someone suggested he ask local home builders if they wanted scale models of their projects built.
“I laughed. He said, ‘Seriously.’ And he told me why it might work. Then I said, ‘OK, sure. You know what ? I will try,” Alshurafa said.
After several emails, North Ridge Development expressed great interest. When asked how accurately he could build the model, Alshurafa said he could guarantee them 90%.
“I built the first one. And he was like, ‘OK, I’ll give you another project.’ That’s how I was discovered.”
Growing up in Jordan, Alshurafa’s father, an architect, introduced him to the childhood toy. It was then that he learned 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 thirties, his passion for Legos ignited.
At night, he puts on techno trance music, grabs a cup of McDonald’s coffee, and hides out in his basement to focus on building Lego. Before he knows it, he says, it’s almost midnight.
“I don’t know how these four or five hours go by so quickly. Why? Because I was just having fun and keeping myself busy,” he said.
Alshurafa says he finds the construction gives him a sense of accomplishment and allows his creativity to unfold. In 2016, SLUG voted its entry of a fully landscaped mansion, including the interior, as the best in the city category, which was mainly architectural constructions.
“I imagined myself inside that [Lego] house, live there,” he said. “Honestly, I can provide brilliant ideas on how to use every space in this 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. The models require between 1,500 and 2,000 bricks to build. Alshurafa says he has lost count of the number of models he has created over the years.
He’s built and torn down dozens of models because he doesn’t have room to keep them all. He says he would need storage if he did, as most models are around three by three feet.
Melissa Meyer, president of SLUG, says the 45-member group 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 mothers, pastors and teachers.
“Lego that brought us together. It’s really cool. Just to have something that was really meant to be a kid’s toy, to get a group of adults together and to bond so much, that some of those people became my best friends,” Meyer said.
She says she is looking forward to reconnecting with the other SLUG members and also showcasing their Lego creations to others.
“One thing we’re excited to see as well is how the public will react.”