Physical models have, for centuries, been a highly-effective way of explaining an architectural idea, allowing the audience to experience a concept in a plan, section, elevation and perspective all at once. However, a model can communicate so much more if you deviate from traditional cardboard materiality. If you want to express the monolithic massing of your latest scheme, or its expressive texture, then a model of plaster or cement may capture so much more than a digital rendering ever could.
Creating a concrete model is profoundly engaging, as it forces us to follow a methodology similar to that of large-scale construction: make a mold / formwork, mix the cement or plaster with water, and then pour. When done correctly, the resulting model could stand as an architectural sculpture in its own right.
Below, we have rounded up concrete models from the ArchDaily archives, giving you the inspiration to set your concrete model ideas in stone.
Solo House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen
Transparent and monolithic, the building is balanced on top of a blind pedestal, in such a way that its outline is divided between an elevated portion visible from a distance and another that disappears behind the leaves of native plant species
Monumental Venice_2 / Enrique Llatas
You create a framework, you add metallic mesh, you prepare a mixture of cement, sand, ochre, and water, and you begin casting. You blend your mixture so as not to generate bubbles in its interior. You fill the mold, you let it dry, you take it out, you throw water on it, and your work is ready
Proposal for the Atacama Regional Museum / David Rodriguez Arquitectos + Combeau & De Iruarrizaga Architects
Holy Redeemer Church / Menis Arquitectos
Vitra Conference Room / Accésit IX Concurso Fco. Javier Saenz de Oiza, Cátedra Blanca
Ocho Quebradas House / ELEMENTAL
To tell the truth, we have been trying lately to be as primitive as possible. (...) We expect these pieces to age as a stone, acquiring some of the brutality of the place but still being gentle for people to enjoy nature and life in general
Cien House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen
Pavilion DIT [Department of Information Technology] / Architecture bureau WALL
Proposal for Future Music School in Italy / ETB Studio
Digitized Stone: Proposal for Smart Masonry / ZArchitects
One of the most significant challenges in designing masonry structures throughout history has been ensuring structural loading requirements and minimizing building mass wherever possible to encourage the flow of light and air. (...) modern technologies allow us to optimize and minimize dead-weight
Editor's Note: this article was originally published at February 06, 2017, and updated at April 24, 2019.