Architectural Models are still one of the best ways to explain a new design or scheme. Architectural Models are made in a variety of sizes (scale) and in a multitude of styles and finishes. All have the main function of informing would be investors or purchasers, local communities or board of directors what a new design looks like and its impact on the surrounding area.
Architectural Models are made to look exactly as the built building or scheme will look. Details must be scaled down to suite the architectural model scale but the overall look should be an exact representation of the finished scheme. Careful attention must be made to colour when making architectural models. Colours should be scaled down to suite the model scale so an overall natural look is achieved.
The scales usually used by model makers are:
- 1:1 Full Size mockups i.e. structural details, complex geometry, fixings, complex connections etc.
- 1:2 Details
- 1:5 Details
- 1:10 Interior spaces/furniture
- 1:20 Interior spaces/furniture
- 1:50 Interior spaces/detailed floor plans/different floor levels
- 1:100 Building plans/layouts/tower & building models
- 1:500 Building layouts/site plans
- 1:1000 Urban scale for site or location plans
- 1:1250 Site plans
- 1:2500 Site plans/city maps
The technology used for making architectural models has changed over the years omitting a little the hand skills of years ago. The introduction of laser cutters and more recently 3D printers have resulted in model build times becoming shorter however we attempt to find a balance between traditional model making and new technology.
Laser Cutters are the industry standard for model makers which are used to cut 2D model parts usually out of acrylic. Laser artwork is drawn from Architects drawings and the laser cutter cut exactly what is drawn to a tolerance of around 1000th of a millimetre (a hair thickness).
Information to build an architectural model is usually supplied as CAD drawings drawn by an architect. From these drawings a trace is made of just the essential parts. This laser artwork is then sent to the laser cutter for cutting, usually in acrylic of varying thicknesses. Parts are assembled by hand and finished to the clients specifications.
Floor plates are cut and stacked in the same way as the building would be built, often around a central core and supported by internal columns. Elevations are then cut and added with clear acrylic as windows and solid white as the clad. The whole model is then sprayed to match the colours of the scheme or sprayed white for a more stylised model preferred by architects.
More recently 3D printers were added to ta model makers tools. A 3D printer creates a physical model directly from a 3D computer model. There is some cleaning of the model required but the model goes from finished print to exhibited model in a very short time. We feel there are still downsides to the level of finish and colours available hence why we use 3D printed models as part of the model making process, we use them for complex form but still hand finish and colour prints before placing on a model to ensure the quality of finish.