A friend who passed some time ago, spent his last year building an elaborate scale-model "town" on top of a very large, dedicated table in his office. He sometimes worked on it with his grandson, but it was mostly for his own amusement. It definitely wasn't legos. And it didn't have a historical theme, but was modern. Also, it may have been more a collection of things rather than a coherent town. Not sure.
It also had premade pieces that fit together (sort of like the old model plane sets) My impression was that it was European and each piece was very expensive. I've lost touch with his widow, unfortunately. It wasn't Meccano, although it did have moving parts though. Sorry for the vague memory.