The architectural model: a tool, a sculptural artifact, a prized possession, and yet in the digital age of BIM and Virtual Reality, perhaps becoming an enigma, a relic for settling dust. And yet, we are still making them. If you imagine that famous photo of earth from space, of every model ever made in a single image, it raises the question - where are they all? Where does the architectural model go to die?
You can envisage a kind of model cemetery, the product of the disenfranchised architect or student - either from a project never realized, or one never started, or the model allowed to collect dust and moved around an office until it’s beyond repair, meeting its end – dramatically and purposefully thrown from a high floor, stripped of its materials for re-use, or placed in the trash pile of a visionary’s lost dreams (or just the actual trash).
But disposing of all that effort, all those tears, all that sweat, and the occasional craft-knife induced blood, is a disheartening process. So what if there was another, more cathartic way? A way for these small and enigmatic worlds to be transformed by the imagination and at the same time transform the lives of others?
Fundación Marte seeks to offer an answer to this question, collecting end-of-cycle models for children to re-use them, giving them new life and continuing the learning cycle. We talked with Enrique Llatas, the representative of this social project, about his plans for the movement and what he hopes for the future of the architectural model.
For our profession it is super important to reinforce the idea that union and teamwork create the future.
In the year 2015, when I resumed my work as a teacher in Peru, I realized a large number of models that were discarded after fulfilling their work as academic learning and this had a great impact on me. That same year, together with a group of students and volunteers, we began this social movement.
1. Christmas in Villa María del Triunfo, 2015
The first donation was approximately 30 models to a human settlement located in the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo-Lima. We celebrated a Christmas campaign with chocolate, but the big surprise was seeing more than 70 children. At that time we decided to host competitions, consisting of games and draws, to deliver the models.
Seeing the children with so much joy and desire to have a model, that was a turning point for us, witnessing the ability they have to imagine and transform these models through different games, like a race track, dolls' houses or castles for their heroes.
2. Shelters for the Afro-Peruvian Culture Day, 2016
The following year, as an academic project in an architecture workshop, a series of cardboard shelters were made, which were then donated for an event celebrating the day of Afro-Peruvian culture. In this event, building on the experiences had in 2015, we decided to directly engage children and teenagers, bringing the shelters in more than 100 pieces to assemble them together on site. In the words of the kids, they were "puzzle houses."
3. Christmas for Children With Autism, 2016
The most recent event in which we participated, was the Christmas of 2016 for children with autism. This was organized by the NGO Latin American Community of Autism Spectrum. We managed to deliver 50 models, which were donated by students from the different universities of Lima-Perú. As you can see in the photos, the children were approaching little by little, observing the models and then begin to have playful encounters, adjusting and them positioning them in different ways, using the cardboard figures as small dolls. At the end of the event the children, along with their parents, took the models they wanted home with them. It was a great experience to see the connection between the children and the different models.
Marte, a New Beginning
We hope as human beings, that soon we will go to Mars, and it will be a new beginning, like our foundation.
All these beautiful experiences encouraged us to create, what is now, Fundación Marte, born from our office of LLATAS Architecture, as a non-profit project. We are working this year to reach more than 1000 children over two different events. One of them is organized by the NGO Native of Peru in Huaral, and the second by the NGO Ccapac in the AAHH Micaela Bastidas in Lima.
This project has a social purpose of donation, sustainability and recycling to give models a second life, and finally an educational purpose that allows a learning interaction between children. The formula is simple, get the models, contact the communities or organizations, give the children all the donations and that's it.
We are very grateful for all the support and donations of models we are receiving from different universities, volunteer students, architects and designers in general, who have contacted us to donate.
When I started this project, I did not know the impact it was going to have with regard to children, nor in the generous contribution that the students who came to donate their models had. Fundación Marte has as a mission to create an impact among people who make a model to generate awareness.
In the future, we hope that the thousands of models that are generated in universities, institutes, schools and design offices for academic and professional learning can have a second life. If we all work as a team, we'll make it.
Union makes the future.
Organization: Fundación Marte
Foundation President: Enrique Llatas
Marketing: Ximena Garcés
Logistics: María Claudia León
Volunteers: María del Pilar Caldas, Luciana Tenorio, Withney Pinedo, Adriana Salas, Karla Alvarado, Andrea Olivares, Jimena Maldonado, Raúl Navas, Sofía Huarac, Tito La Hoz, Erick Ñiquen, Franccesca Canturini, Keila Elizabeth, Luis Conislla, Marcelo Yman, Nathalie Luna, Lesly Melo, Miluska Cavalier, Elias Díaz, Gabriel Escobal
Photography: Yamil Alvarez, Enrique Llatas, Elías Díaz, Adriana Salas
Thanks: LLATAS, CEDET, UPC, CLEA Perú, TUPAC, CCAPAC, NATIVE OF PERU, BUDES
In times of consumerism, where so many things are purchased without really needing them and others are discarded and can be reused, it is crucial to be aware of sustainability. The students of architecture, creators of these models, all great works, can not only learn in classrooms but also transmit those small scales to the real scale or better yet to a much more macro scale, beyond our material scope, because the imagination of children has no limits. Now that it's the end of the cycle, Christmas is coming... donate your model.