Ambitious and diverse, models are representative tools non-exclusive to architects. Peculiar fascination with miniatures – and what they tell us about our larger world- extends to all ages, cultures, and purposes. From scaled temples of clay from 200 B.C. found in Mexico, ceramic models carried during medieval Islamic journeys, Victorian doll houses, and LEGOS, models are more than baby buildings. Miniatures unveil the essentials, explain much larger concepts, contain intimate and historical data, and invite us to challenge our known selves and perspective.
Models: The Latest Architecture and News
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In this week's reprint, author Mark Alan Hewitt talks about models and their importance. "For those of us lucky enough to have grown up during the 1950s and ’60s, models were hot stuff—and not just the kind that statement may bring to mind", he states. Going back to the realistic models of the 70s, similar to today's virtual renderings, this essay retraces their history and the artists that produced them.
Design projects rely heavily on visual tools that illustrate the project's features and overall atmosphere, and whether you are an architect, interior designer, furniture designer, or engineer, the term 'mood board' has definitely come up at some point during the early stages of the design process. Generally speaking, images have immense powers of influencing and inspiring their viewers, so putting together a powerful mood board can be a game changer for the architect, the visual artist, and the clients, and can amplify the project's story telling process. So what is a mood board and how can you create one?
The Fundació Enric Miralles has launched MIRALLES, a series of exhibitions and events celebrating the work of the influential Catalan architect, whose passing marked twenty years in 2020. Curated by Benedetta Tagliabue and Joan Roig i Duran, the program will unfold over the course of this year in different emblematic venues in Barcelona. The first three exhibitions of the circuit inaugurated this month showcase the multiple facets of Enric Miralles through archival materials ranging from drawings and collages to photography and models, exploring his legacy in architecture and artistic creation.
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.
Northern Ireland-based architect John Donnelly has launched a studio dedicated to the production of finely-detailed plaster-cast architectural models exploring the diverse built environment of Belfast, Northern Ireland. “Model Citizen” was founded to promote public understanding and appreciation of the architecture and craftsmanship present in Irish cities, manifesting as an ongoing series of intricate sculptures.
Model Citizen sees its sculptures, available for closer inspection here, as a “mechanism to emphasize the beauty and significance of our built heritage,” translating art deco, brutalist, and internationalist styles into tangible, tactile sculptural objects that can be held, felt, and explored.
Over 40 years of practice, Herzog + de Meuron have established themselves as one of the most celebrated practices in architecture. Their works span scale and site but are united by a sensitivity to material and detail that, today, often seems to fall by the wayside. The inner workings of the practice are notoriously private, but those interested in the process behind the project may soon have reason to celebrate.
Have you ever wanted a miniature model of the Flatiron Building, Burnham and Root’s famous Monadnock building, or even a 3D map of Amsterdam? Would you want to have your home transformed into a dollhouse-sized replica? UK-based Chisel & Mouse is reconstructing these architectural icons and custom pieces, and bringing them right to your shelf or mantle.
For a lot of architects, models hold a special place in our hearts. Whereas a building can take years to construct and usually can't be drastically altered as it nears completion, a model provides architects with the immediacy and flexibility we crave as designers while also allowing us to feel like we're really making something—a feeling that digital modeling software can rarely provide.
Models have even played decisive roles in the careers of many world-famous architects. Peter Zumthor, for example, is known to prefer the tactility of models over other forms of representation, while early in his career Steven Holl gained recognition for his visionary "Bridge of Houses" proposal for the Highline in New York, presented through a series of provocative models. And, physical models have even been key in some of the great advancements of the profession: In the 1990s, Frank Gehry's pioneering work in digital design involved tracing the forms of his digital models into CATIA software, whereas Frei Otto's models using soap films from the 1960s were key in his research into tensile structures.
Site models: they are intriguing and playful things by nature, making you feel like a giant looking down on a city. These miniature neighborhoods, however, are often large and bulky and only suited for architecture schools or offices. Imagine being able to have a site model in your home or office. Microscape has launched a Kickstarter to produce 1:5000 scale models of America’s Windy City, Chicago.
South Australian artist, Joshua Smith has created yet another true-to-life miniature, a locksmith shop in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The miniature was created for an exhibition at the Arcade Art Gallery in Kaohsiung called, ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ as part of the Streets of Taiwan festival. Miniaturist Joshua Smith selected the shop by using google maps, with supplemental reference photos taken by the gallery -- Joshua has not been to Taiwan, let alone the shop itself.
When it comes to tall building design, it’s often the structural system where the most groundbreaking innovations are made. Premiering this week in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial is a new exhibition highlighting the innovative structural systems of an architecture firm that has completed their fair share of tall buildings: SOM.
Titled SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture], the exhibition uncovers the concepts and forms of the firm’s greatest achievements, including revolutionary tall buildings such as the John Hancock Building, the Willis Tower and the current world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The exhibition reveals the research and thought processes through a range of media: hand-drawn sketches, interactive sculpture, immersive video, and most notably, a lineup of models at 1:500 showing the structural skeletons of 30 significant projects.
Nine Toronto architecture studios and artist groups have been invited to propose ideas and prototypes in model form that foster analytical, conceptual, physical and tectonic frameworks for inhabiting and constructing urban space and the public sphere. They are: CN Tower Liquidation; LAMAS; Lateral Office; Nestor Kruger and Yam Lau; Mitchell Akiyama and Brady Peters; Public Studio; studio junction; Terrarea; and UUfie.
Produced in various scales that involve speculative, functional, representational and/or relational approaches, these architectural models, in response to the theme “Meet Me There”, take as their point of departure an exemplary public space – the Sir Daniel Wilson quad, an
Although trained as a Control and Computer Engineer, Ali Alamedy has since turned his hand to manufacturing scaled, miniature dioramas. After being forced to leave his home in Iraq, he and his family are now based in Turkey – and it is here that he has honed a skill in constructing these tiny, intricate worlds from a broad range of ordinary materials. All scaled at 1:12, these complex and often hyper-realistic models are inspired by the environments around him, complemented by his experiences and, of course, his imagination. In this study of Alamedy's work, ArchDaily asks: how do you do it?
The “Never Built” world so far includes Never Built Los Angeles, a book and exhibit, and the book, Never Built New York. Now, the Queens Museum hopes to continue the exploration into the New York that might have been with a Never Built New York exhibition and has launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $35,000 to make it happen. The exhibition, curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin and designed by Christian Wassmann, will explore 200 years of wild schemes and unbuilt projects that had the potential to vastly alter the New York we know today.
138 images, 14 albums, 20 magazines, 13 original models and one projection are part of Modeling for the Camera: Photography of architectural models in Spain, 1925-1970, the current exhibition of the ICO Museum in Madrid, curated by Iñaki Bergera, PhD of Architecture from the University of Navarra.
The exhibition is tied to the book of the same name that was published in 2016, edited by La Fábrica and the Ministry of Public Works (Spain). In times when 3D visualization software has popularized, accelerated and perfected the rendering industry, both materials choose to value the legacy of architectural model photography in the 20th century.
Joshua Smith, a miniaturist and former stencil artist based in South Australia, constructs tiny, intricate worlds for a living. His work, which exhibits astonishing observational and representational skills, focuses on the "overlooked aspects of the urban environment – such as grime, rust and decay to discarded cigarettes and graffiti," all recreated at a scale of 1:20. Smith, who has been making model kits for around a decade, only recently chose to move away from a 16-year-long career creating stencil art. With his creative talents now focused on model-making, and all those skills which accompany the craft, ArchDaily asks: how do you do it?