Is architectural model making a dying art? Sheet1
Model making requires a lot of patience and skill_©encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

Model-making in Architecture evokes mixed reactions among students and professionals. While many enjoy the process of shaping a detailed physical model, the majority would prefer dedicating their time to digital models. It is often seen that models are at the bottom of the priority list for most students during submissions. Even many professionals prefer to outsource the job, which is more practical considering the time and labor that goes into each model. During a time when the digital revolution has taken over and almost transformed the entire process of Architectural designing, it is important to understand the rationality of model making and whether or not it has a role to play under the current scenario

Uses of Physical Models

Is architectural model making a dying art? Sheet2
Models help catch the attention of investors_©btnmt.onecmscdn.com/2019/12/19/thi-truong-bds.jpg

Before reviewing the present trends concerning model making, it is important to understand why it became an important part of Architectural practice in the first place. A few of the important uses identified for Architecture models are as follows:

  1. Design development – Physical models, especially during the conceptual stage, help Architects understand the form, scale, and functionality of their planning and design.
  2. Client discussions – While explaining the design to a person who is not professionally or academically associated with the field of Architecture, 2-dimensional drawings and rendered views might prove to be insufficient. A physical model, essentially being a miniature version of the final product, will facilitate better communication between the client and the designer, while also helping to cross obstacles like jargon. 
  3. Approvals and permits – models, being an important tool for communicating design, help civic authorities understand the impact of the project on its surroundings. 
  4. Sales and Investments – Concerning future development projects, a good physical model helps build curiosity among potential investors. It could also be an important catalyst in promoting sales and creating revenue for proposed residential and commercial projects.

Alternatives to the Physical Model

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Hologram models could be the future_©thearchitectsdiary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Hologram-Architecture.jpg

Building Information Modelling (BIM) software and other 3-D modeling tools, when paired with 3-D rendering software and engines, are capable of delivering staggering results in terms of time consumed, the information generated, and proximity to reality. Other than capturing these visuals in a 2-dimensional, rendered frame, there are numerous other ways to present them:

  1. 3-D printing – Using this technology, a digital model may be generated physically without dedicating human labor and time. Every intricate detail that is shown in the digital model will be automatically reproduced, while designers may direct their attention towards other avenues. 
  2. Walkthrough – These rendered or animated videos guide the viewers through the space and helps the Architect overcome the limitations associated with a static image. 
  3.  Virtual Reality – It allows the users to freely walk around and experience the space long before it is even constructed. VR helps break all boundaries of design visualization and communication.
  4. Hologram – Made from lasers, Holograms are more flexible than a 3-D printed model. Like in a sci-fi movie, Architecture models projected on a Hologram table may be moved around to get a better perspective of the project.

Why Are Physical Models Becoming Less Popular?

Digitization of the design process has caused traditional methods to be found lacking on multiple fronts. Businesses value-effective utilization of time and the time demand of physical models is not in their best interest. Apart from time, model-making also demands a lot of skill and patience. Here the person needs to be able to make the right decisions and have the ability to execute that using the materials. Meanwhile, 3-D software simply takes instructions and is capable of deciphering and delivering much more information about the building for the designer’s reference. Physical models also have little flexibility as opposed to the adaptive digital model, not to mention its limited shelf life and proneness to damage. 

Why Hand-make Models When the Disadvantages are Obvious?

Making things with your hands has certain advantages associated with it. Hand-making models are believed to activate parts of your brain that normal cognitive processes cannot. This helps one find their flow and achieve creative freedom. The process of making a physical model can also lead one to a lot of discoveries about their project. It gives innumerable solutions to everything they find problematic, even how to arrange structural elements in order to achieve stability. It also opens up a wide range of new possibilities and ideas to consider going forward. ‘Thinking with our hands’ can keep us away from digital distractions, and ultimately makes us calm, focused, happy, and devoid of stress.

Evidently, the art of model-making is being overshadowed by the digital wave that has taken over many facets and even jobs in Architecture. However, while the numerous advantages of digital models are clear as daylight, the creative and psychological aspects associated with making a physical model should not be ignored. At a time when Architecture is gaining more reach and prominence, it is important to collectively produce work of the highest quality with optimal and creative design solutions. While we welcome the dawn of a new era in Architecture, it is important to ensure that we do not overlook fundamental aspects of the design process that make Architects a valuable asset to society.   

References

  1. Breeders, B. (n.d.). Model Making In Architecture. [online] architecturecompetitions.com. Available at: https://architecturecompetitions.com/model-making-in-architecture [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  2. www.cadcrowd.com. (n.d.). Is 3D Modeling and Rendering the Future for Architectural Design Firms? | Cad Crowd. [online] Available at: https://www.cadcrowd.com/blog/is-3d-modeling-and-rendering-the-future-for-architectural-design-firms/.
  3. digitalmonkblog (2013). Are there issues with Architectural models? Examples from recent projects. Watch list for citizens. [online] CityHallWatch: Tools to engage in Vancouver city decisions. Available at: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/focus-arch-models/ [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  4. 30X40 Design Workshop (2018). Why Make Architecture Models? YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBWxp0kMJYY [Accessed 14 Jul. 2020].
  5. Chaffee, H. (n.d.). 5 Reasons to use an architectural model. [online] www.modelbuilders.net. Available at: https://www.modelbuilders.net/blog/bid/128881/5-Reasons-to-use-an-architectural-model [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  6. Build Magazine. (2020). Model Making in Architecture: Why Does it Matter? [online] Available at: https://www.build-review.com/model-making-in-architecture-why-does-it-matter/.
  7. ARK Architects. (2020). The importance of architectural model making. [online] Available at: https://ark-architects.com/the-importance-of-architectural-model-making-by-ark-architects/ [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  8. CreativeLive Blog. (2014). Why Touching Things is a Key to Creativity. [online] Available at: https://www.creativelive.com/blog/drawing-making-spark-creativity/ [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  9. V-Mag. (n.d.). Why Getting Your Hands Dirty Can Boost Your Creativity — V-Mag by Vidsy. [online] Available at: https://vmag.vidsy.co/articles/why-getting-your-hands-dirty-can-boost-creativity [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
  10. www.insidehighered.com. (n.d.). Make Things With Your Hands | Inside Higher Ed. [online] Available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/make-things-your-hands [Accessed 1 Aug. 2021].
Author

Avneeth Premarajan is a practicing Architect and an ardent “student” of Architecture. He is intrigued by concepts, ideas, philosophy, evolution and geography of design. He is more than willing to give up a few hours of day-dreaming to write about his thoughts.

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