An architect usually begins their journey like most professionals do, in a college. While the first few weeks are all fun and games, as the semester progresses these students learn and create huge rolled sheets and intricate models. This is a skill that an architect keeps refining and uses for the rest of their life.

‘Architects do not build buildings; they make drawings and models from which buildings are made.’ – Andrea Simitch, Val Warke (The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know, 2014)

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An architect usually begins their journey like most professionals do, in a college. While the first few weeks are all fun and games, as the semester progresses these students learn and create huge rolled sheets and intricate models. - Sheet1
IMAGE 1-©www.rjmodels.com.hk

An architect usually begins their journey like most professionals do, in a college. While the first few weeks are all fun and games, as the semester progresses these students learn and create huge rolled sheets and intricate models. This is a skill that an architect keeps refining and uses for the rest of their life.

These huge rolls of cartridge paper contain the visualization of the idea that an architect with regards to the design problem. While architecture itself is referred to as a language, sometimes of words or symbolism, it is widely accepted as a perceivable study – when a building itself is an entity of a visual experience, its conception has to come through another visual form of representation. Diagrams, sketches, and full-scaled drawings are all an integral part of the design process, which later gets translated into building renders or views which depict a photograph of the final product.

These drawings can start from anything like a free-hand sketch and well thought out diagram. What follows is an exploration of the different parameters involved with the design problem which can be a collection of visual ideas and graphs in a storyboard or an exercise of algorithms of program or form techniques. These can be followed by technical drawings that depict the built form in plans, elevations, or sections.

In contrast, models are a physical product or a miniature of the actual building. These can be of three types depending upon their utility – conceptual models to ideate, working model to test that idea, and a final presentation model to act as the final product after a long iterative design process. While a conceptual model is a part of the design process itself, the other two are integral to understand where the process has led to. A working model embodies a characteristic – anything from a system to a material, a construction detail to massing that needs to be understood by the architect, juror, or client for its feasibility. Presentation is the only purpose of the final model; something that is better understood by a layman than some drawings.

The design process is personal to each architect, its only purpose being to allow a thinking process to be worked out practically such that something can be built out of it. A diagram may end up as a model or some iterative models may lead up to a beautiful perspective drawing, but an architect intends to understand spaces and to understand how these spaces affect the user experience when this user uses this space. Certain characteristics are important to understand by both of these methodologies.

For representation, however, a presentation sheet finishes with building plans which move on to become construction drawings for a project. A model remains the same, although a much larger working version of it ends up on the design site. In different words, a 2-dimensional representation enables details about spaces including their arrangement and connections to be visible. However, some may say that this becomes a composition – a building being not just a 3-dimensional object but an actual sensory experience of utility and changeability.

An architect usually begins their journey like most professionals do, in a college. While the first few weeks are all fun and games, as the semester progresses these students learn and create huge rolled sheets and intricate models. - Sheet2
IMAGE 2-©www.arch2o.com

In such cases, a model helps in figuring out the integrities and brings out the form of the building with more clarity. Issues and errors can be avoided on-site if there is no misinterpretation of the drawings. A model is a good way of ensuring that a plan, elevation, and a section match, and there is no gap between them all. In terms of representation as well, the building is better portrayed as a model. With the advent of computerization and graphical presentations, models can even be placed on-site to understand the aesthetics of the building and the changes to the site characteristics after the built form replaces the void on it.

Another important aspect is scale, which is imperative to determine to ensure that the dimensions mentioned on the sheets are not disproportional. Lighting and ventilation qualities can also be created on the model, both on a physical or a digital model. This means that while interesting concepts can be brought out on paper, those can be tested and proved to ensure the working of this idea for the architect and the client alike.

While 3-dimensional projections can be made of a project, it remains just that, a projected sketch, or a composition. Sheets are better to understand the workability of a project and to understand how the building will practically exist and what character it will have. In conjunction with this, a 3-dimensional model is a constructed module and essentially reproduces the sheets, and brings them to life.

Ruchika Agrawal
Author

Ruchika is an aspiring architect and an enthusiastic writer. She likes exploring design principles and methodologies and is open to new possibilities and alternatives in the field of Architecture.

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