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Our Readers Show Off Their Most Impressive Architectural Models

Our Readers Show Off Their Most Impressive Architectural Models

In many ways, architectural models are strange objects. On one hand, like drawings, models are a representation of something else—a building—that might exist already but in most cases is so far only hypothetical. On the other hand, they are miniature constructions in themselves, which can be appreciated for their craftsmanship and intricacy. Perhaps this is why architects find models so fascinating; they can be simultaneously admired as an object in themselves and as a vision of something greater.

Earlier this year, we asked our readers to send us images of their most impressive models, and the response clearly showed this fascination. We received photographs of a wide variety of models, from sensible and meticulously constructed miniatures to jaw-dropping expressive outbursts. From over 300 entries, we've narrowed down our readers' submissions to just 21 of the most awe-inspiring examples, splitting them into 5 categories to reflect the incredible range of ways that people have made their models worth looking at.

Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer + 90

Showing Off Your Design

The goal of any architectural model is to sell a design. These model designers made smart choices to highlight their projects' best features.

Contemporary Neighborhood Library / Mario Serrano + Samantha Sheppard

Contemporary Neighborhood Library / Mario Serrano + Samantha Sheppard. Image courtesy of Mario Serrano
Contemporary Neighborhood Library / Mario Serrano + Samantha Sheppard. Image courtesy of Mario Serrano

The lightness and geometric precision of Mario Serrano and Samantha Sheppard's design is captured perfectly in the materials and photographic style employed in this model.

Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi

Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger
Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger

Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones / Model by Garrett Wineinger + Laura Leticia + Angelika Sophi. Image courtesy of Garrett Wineinger + 90

Garrett Wineinger's study of the Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones uses "peeled back" layers to demonstrate this classic's construction logic. 

Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler

Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler
Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler

Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler Thermal Baths in Pozzuoli / Clemens Kössler. Image courtesy of Clemens Kössler + 90

It's not much to look at from the outside—in fact, we'd go as far as to say that from a distance this model looks like garbage. But the moment you see photographs of this model's interior, you feel a sense of immersion in this atmospheric design.

The Reifier / Heffrence H P Teow

The Reifier / Heffrence H P Teow. Image courtesy of Heffrence H P Teow
The Reifier / Heffrence H P Teow. Image courtesy of Heffrence H P Teow

The Reifier / Heffrence H P Teow. Image courtesy of Heffrence H P Teow The Reifier / Heffrence H P Teow. Image courtesy of Heffrence H P Teow + 90

Given the odd form of this "extroverted" art institution, the decision to create a detailed sectional model helps put one's mind at ease about the design's interior logistics.

Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe

Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe. Image courtesy of Maël Barbe
Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe. Image courtesy of Maël Barbe

Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe. Image courtesy of Maël Barbe Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe. Image courtesy of Maël Barbe Equestrian Center / Pierre Ide + Maël Barbe. Image courtesy of Maël Barbe + 90

Architectural models are often constructed of a single material. The decision here to have one contrasting material which highlights the project's most notable feature is striking.

God Is in the Details

Often, what makes a model excellent are the smallest details. These entries caught our eye thanks to the neat little touches that set them apart.

Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Matt Vocatura

Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura
Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura

Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura Design Building at UMass Amherst by Leers Weinzapfel Associates / Model by Matt Vocatura. Image courtesy of Matt Vocatura + 90

Created for the Timber City exhibit at Washington DC's National Building Museum, the standout elements of Matt Vocatura's model are the tiny 3D-printed "steel" joints connecting the wood elements.

Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas

Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas
Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas

Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas Chamber Music Hall in Reichenau / Ivan Matas. Image courtesy of Ivan Matas + 90

This detailed model includes a painstakingly constructed section through the building, showing the structural elements in full.

Visitor Center for Peggy's Cove / Andrew Hill

Visitor Center for Peggy's Cove / Andrew Hill. Image courtesy of Andrew Hill
Visitor Center for Peggy's Cove / Andrew Hill. Image courtesy of Andrew Hill

Visitor Center for Peggy's Cove / Andrew Hill. Image courtesy of Andrew Hill Visitor Center for Peggy's Cove / Andrew Hill. Image courtesy of Andrew Hill + 90

Split into 5 pieces, the base elements of this model are able to slide along 2 bars, providing a look at 4 different sections through the design.

Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt

Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt. IMage courtesy of Julius Puttkammer
Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt. IMage courtesy of Julius Puttkammer

Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt. IMage courtesy of Julius Puttkammer Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt. IMage courtesy of Julius Puttkammer Greenhouse / Julius Puttkammer, Lukas Frenzel, Kai Wagner, Sophie Beike, Robin Bothe + Matthias Voigt. IMage courtesy of Julius Puttkammer + 90

This design's pillow-shaped window panes were created by softening plastic in an oven, requiring one team member to give their kitchen up for a number of days.

Type Variant House by VJAA / Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins

Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins
Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins

Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins Type Variant House by VJAA / Model by Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson + Zach Dawkins. Image courtesy of Sarah Hefner, Ross Davidson, Zach Dawkins + 90

The love and care put into this model can be seen in its fastidious construction, even down to the alignment of the wood grain. Not visible in these images are the magnets that allow the model to be disassembled for closer investigation.

Meaningful Materials

Just like in buildings themselves, the materials used to construct a model can reveal a lot about the design's atmosphere and intent.

Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi

Our Readers Show Off Their Most Impressive Architectural Models, Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi
Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi

Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi Salient Extension / Ibrahim Ibrahim + Maryam AlJomairi. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Ibrahim and Maryam AlJomairi + 90

What more can we say? When your model is not so much constructed as excavated, you've got our attention (and probably everyone else's, too).

Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher

Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher
Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher

Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher Model by Christoph Schwarz + Thomas Obererlacher. Image courtesy of Thomas Obererlacher + 90

The main body of this model is made from a single gypsum cast, helping the angular profile of the design's steel walkways stand out to the viewer.

Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun

Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun
Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun

Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun Theater on Rundle Mountain / Dalton Kaun. Image courtesy of Dalton Kaun + 90

Another model that uses a cast to perfection, in this case the rugged, unrefined terrain of the "mountain" forms a beautiful contrast with the structural logic of the building.

Patience Is a Virtue

Making architectural models is incredibly time-consuming, and it can be tempting to cut corners. These models show what is possible when you avoid that temptation.

Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian

Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian
Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian

Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian Rural Sports Hall / Ramtin Taherian. Image courtesy of Ramtin Taherian + 90

Look closely, and you'll see that this model's ceiling is made of hundreds of individual threads, each inserted through individually laser-cut holes in the ceiling structure.

Maple Leaf Pavilion / Taiwei Wang

Maple Leaf Pavilion / Taiwei Wang. Image courtesy of Taiwei Wang
Maple Leaf Pavilion / Taiwei Wang. Image courtesy of Taiwei Wang

Maple Leaf Pavilion / Taiwei Wang. Image courtesy of Taiwei Wang Maple Leaf Pavilion / Taiwei Wang. Image courtesy of Taiwei Wang + 90

This remarkable three-legged structure is made using only paper—no glue or fixings whatsoever.

Bastian Marzoli + Pénélope Escallier

Model by Bastian Marzoli + Pénélope Escallier. Image courtesy of Bastian Marzoli + Pénélope Escallier
Model by Bastian Marzoli + Pénélope Escallier. Image courtesy of Bastian Marzoli + Pénélope Escallier

At a certain scale, simple surface textures aren't enough. This model uses 3 varieties of individually cut bricks to provide an impressive sense of texture to its walls.

Smart Construction Choices

These days, you could simply 3D print a model and call it a day. But these models demonstrate how different tools are suited to different applications, making smart construction choices for a model with real finesse.

New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer

New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer
New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer

New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer New Orleans Aquatic Center / Charles Weimer. Image courtesy of Charles Weimer + 90

Combining 3D printing and laser cutting with more traditional techniques, this model is a case study in how different tools can be used to different effects.

Shi Qi Tu

Model by Shi Qi Tu. Image courtesy of Shi Qi Tu
Model by Shi Qi Tu. Image courtesy of Shi Qi Tu

Model by Shi Qi Tu. Image courtesy of Shi Qi Tu Model by Shi Qi Tu. Image courtesy of Shi Qi Tu + 90

While the burned edges of laser-cut wood is usually a distraction in models, here it adds a richness to the model's "ground" which works well with its perspex "water."

Amalgamation / Eli Lurie + Ricardo Chiuz

Amalgamation / Eli Lurie + Ricardo Chiuz. Image courtesy of Eli Lurie
Amalgamation / Eli Lurie + Ricardo Chiuz. Image courtesy of Eli Lurie

Amalgamation / Eli Lurie + Ricardo Chiuz. Image courtesy of Eli Lurie Amalgamation / Eli Lurie + Ricardo Chiuz. Image courtesy of Eli Lurie + 90

In this masterplan design, the outlines of new buildings are shown with perspex that is lit up from below. And what is the perfect material to help these pure, bright shapes stand out? A dark-stained wooden base, of course.

The Pro Leagues

While it perhaps wouldn't be fair to compare the submissions of most of our readers to those made by model-making pros, we couldn't help but showcase a few of the stunning professional models that were submitted. This selection gives just a hint of what's possible given the experience and resources of some of the best model makers in the world.

Peter Wake

Elizabeth Quay Hotel designed by HASSELL / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake
Elizabeth Quay Hotel designed by HASSELL / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake

Greenwich Wharf residential tower proposal by Squire + Partners / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake one40william mixed use tower designed by HASSELL / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake Vauxhall Cross residential tower design by Squire + Partners / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake Philip Street mixed use tower designed by Woods Bagot / Model by Peter Wake. Image courtesy of Peter Wake + 90

Peter Wake, a senior model maker at Woods Bagot who has previously worked for Squire + Partners and HASSELL, sent us a variety of different types of work, ranging from concept and massing models up to complete designs.

Radii Inc.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc.

BAM Tower by TEN Arquitectos / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. Tour Signal La Defense competition entry by Daniel Libeskind / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. The Spiral by BIG / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. Manhattan Midtown West Site Model with proposal by SOM / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. The Steinway, 111 West 57th Street by SHoP Architects / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. 2 World Trade Center by BIG / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. SFMOMA Extension by Snøhetta / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. V&A Museum of Design Dundee competition entry by REX / Model by Radii Inc. Image courtesy of Radii Inc. + 90

Based in Hoboken, New Jersey, Radii Inc. has an impressive client list, and you may just recognize some of the projects they've worked on.

Thanks to every one of our readers who sent us photographs of their work!

About this author
Cite: Rory Stott. "Our Readers Show Off Their Most Impressive Architectural Models" 27 Apr 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/893343/our-readers-show-off-their-most-impressive-architectural-models/> ISSN 0719-8884
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