The World's Largest Model Airport
May 12, 2011 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Frederik and Gerrit Braun, energetic twin brothers with no shortage of dreams, have just finished construction of the world’s largest model airport. With 40,000 lights, 15,000 figurines, 500 cars, 10,000 trees, 50 trains, 1000 wagons, 100 signals, 200 switches, 300 buildings and 40 planes, Knuffingen Airport is both a wonder to behold as well as a technological tour de force. The best part of Knuffingen is that it’s alive. Forty planes and 90 vehicles move about autonomously.
posted by Trurl (25 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
And not a matchstick in sight.
posted by francesca too at 7:04 PM on May 12, 2011

Really amazing, I've seen some nice train layouts but that's pretty mindblowing.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:28 PM on May 12, 2011

I found this last week and I was really impressed with how they handled the planes taking off and landing on the runway. There's a slot that literally uncovers itself and long, thin panels that drop down just as the plane and it's carriage reach the segment. It happens so fast it looks like a CGI effect.

But the upside is that when there isn't a plane on the runway, the runway looks perfectly smooth and flat. It's really hard to spot where the track and slot is when it's covered.
posted by loquacious at 7:30 PM on May 12, 2011

Great great great.
posted by marxchivist at 7:34 PM on May 12, 2011

Wow. One day I would really like to get in to making model layouts, perhaps of trains but perhaps just of little villages without the trains. This is awe inspiring.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:46 PM on May 12, 2011

Look upon their works, ye mighty, and despair!
posted by a small part of the world at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

To quote James Franco, "Congratulations, nerds!"
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2011

posted by kcds at 7:57 PM on May 12, 2011

Wow. Leave it to the Germans.
posted by Dasein at 8:00 PM on May 12, 2011

Look upon their works, ye tiny, and despair!

10-year-old me would probably just die from sheer excitement.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 8:12 PM on May 12, 2011

That is pretty cool, but I can't help but think that if it was me, I would have built a single, real, flying airplane that I could fly myself. But lots of people have done that, so I guess in a way it'd have been comparatively pedestrian.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2011

Yippee-ki-yay, model Fokker.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

Totally awesome (if not TMTOTH)...
posted by Melismata at 8:27 PM on May 12, 2011

If you have twin boys, you have to keep them occupied.
posted by Anitanola at 8:29 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

15,000 "people" is almost enough to fill Madison Square Garden.
posted by Trurl at 8:30 PM on May 12, 2011

When the planes drive up to the terminal, and the little jetty pops out...are the planes sniffing the building?
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:31 PM on May 12, 2011

Also imagine if all this time and effort and money and resources had gone into fixing Hamburg's homeless problem!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:32 PM on May 12, 2011

Houses with bad reputations
It's got it all.
posted by unliteral at 8:32 PM on May 12, 2011

Secret of life ... figure out how to get people to pay you to do your hobby!
posted by woodblock100 at 8:38 PM on May 12, 2011

But just imagine how much money they'd be making if they'd used 1:1 scale.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:54 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The sheer craft in that is mind-boggling. This was linked on MeFi a few months ago. One of the links led to a video interview with the designer, where he was working out how to make each plane land properly. That's right: for each and every different jet landing on that runway, the designer very, very carefully studied how the real plane lands, and then emulated it as closely as possible with his setup. Apparently a 737 will look different than an Airbus 800, and a 747 will be different again.... not just in takeoffs and landing, but in taxiing around the airport.

This was the prior MeFi post. Check out the 'diary' link; each diary entry has video. Somewhere in those links is the video I was talking about, where the main designer is learning how to 'land' each plane properly.

It's pretty inspiring, actually, watching the craft and love in what they're doing. And yes, I realize it's fundamentally a bit silly and pointless, but I love it anyway.
posted by Malor at 9:27 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is the sort of thing special effects studios do (or did before CGI) all the time for movies, and for a lot more than 4 million in some cases. Miniatures are captivating in film/video because they seem so lifelike, in real person they are also cool, but not the same way. I found this out when building HO railroads, it never was as cool as it seemed in the pictures.
posted by stbalbach at 10:34 PM on May 12, 2011

My son just pooped his pants a little, I think.
posted by fungible at 5:41 AM on May 13, 2011

Amazing. They should totally build an airport.
posted by HumanComplex at 2:40 PM on May 13, 2011

I was in Hamburg last week and went to visit on the recommendation of a colleague- - didn't realize until reading the Lufthansa in-flight magazine that the airport segment was opening. The entire facility is simply staggering to tour. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a giant (maybe 9 ft ^2?) arena where HSV and St. Pauli (the local Bundesliga clubs) were "playing" a game... then looking closer, saw beautiful details/humor where St. Pauli fans were being kicked out of the stadium, fans were faving a little grillfest in the corner, etc.

After two hours in the warehouse (the entire thing is located in the middle of the Speicherstadt - a 150 year old warehouse city), I had to leave because I was overwhelmed. The lights dim every ten minutes or so as each of the various sections (rural Switzerland, Norway, Hamburg, Las Vegas (complete with Area 51), Utah, etc) come alive at night.

When I wandered to the airport, the first thing I noticed wasn't the airplanes taking off (though that was pretty kickasstastic), but a plane that had "blown a tire" (or some such thing) and was on the ground burning... then the Feuerwehr sirens started wailing, and various fire trucks, ambulances, etc came rushing in to put the fire out.

I want to go back just to take more in. A few years ago, wandering through the Louvre took 8 hours before I reached overload of beauty, detail, etc. (okay. that's a lie. the last hour or two I was phoning it in) ... this place took about an hour and a half.
posted by Seeba at 5:58 PM on May 13, 2011

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