It took the youngster more than 700 hours over a period of 11 months to build the 26 feet long and 5 feet tall sculpture with 56,000 Lego bricks.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 7, 2021. It has since been updated.
Brynjar Karl Birgisson of Reykjavik, Iceland, was only about 6 or 7 years old when he first saw intricate Lego sculptures during a trip to Legoland in Billund, Denmark. The youngster immediately became obsessed with the huge Lego models and the idea of building a real-world scale model of something himself. At first, he didn't know what he wanted to build. For the next few years, Brynjar—who has autism—brainstormed ideas for his Lego projects until his search eventually led him to the Titanic. Utterly captivated by the historic ship, finally, at age 10, he set about building what is now the world's largest Lego replica of the Titanic.
According to CNN, it took the motivated youngster more than 700 hours over a period of 11 months to complete the sculpture. Brynjar, who's now 17, built the 26 feet long and 5 feet tall replica with 56,000 Lego bricks. Speaking to the publication in 2018 when his Titanic sculpture made its American debut at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, he explained that he remembers playing with Legos for hours when he was 5. "I sometimes built from instructions, and sometimes, I used my own imagination," he said.
"When I traveled with my mom to Legoland in Denmark and saw for the first time all the amazing big models of famous houses and planes, locations, and ships, I probably then started to think about making my own Lego model. By the time I was 10, I started to think about building the Lego Titanic model in a Lego man size," Brynjar explained.
With the help of his grandfather Ogmundsson—an engineer—and mother Bjarney Ludviksdottir, he figured out how many tiny toy bricks would be needed to create the model.
While Ogmundsson scaled down the original blueprint of the Titanic to Lego size, Ludviksdottir served as his cheerleader. "If she had not supported my dream project, it would have never been a reality," said Brynjar. Thanks to donations from family and friends, they were able to buy the 56,000 Lego bricks required for the project.
Today, Brynjar credits his time working on the sculpture for helping him embrace his autism. He revealed that he used to be unhappy and lonely before the project as he had difficulty communicating and it was through his impressive creation that he gained confidence.
"When I started the building process, I had a person helping me in school in every step that I took, but today, I'm studying without any support. My grades have risen, and my classmates consider me as their peer. I have had the opportunity to travel and explore and meet wonderful people," he said.
Ludviksdottir explained that she felt totally blind about Brynjar's future when she started raising him as she worried about the obstacles that many children on the autism spectrum have to overcome. "When your child comes to you with an interesting big crazy dream, mission, or goal, he or she would like to reach and needs your help. Listen carefully and make an attempt to find ways to support the child to reach that goal. It might be the best investment you ever make for your kid," she said.
"Dreams keep us going. That is something nobody can take away from us. It's something good to have when you are feeling a little bit stuck or sad. You can always dream," Ludviksdottir added. Meanwhile, Brynjar's grandfather Ogmundsson believes there are lessons to be learned from the teen's achievement. "Autism does not have to be scary. Many great scientists and national leaders had and have autism. What matters is that such individuals get understanding and support because everyone can learn from these people if they listen to what they are saying," he said. "When Brynjar was growing up, I often helped him with projects that called for thought and hard work that I thought would be good for him. Then he got this crazy idea to build a 6-meter ship from Lego cubes. Today he speculates a great deal about complex things that require technical understanding."