Architectural Models: The Ultimate Guide

Architectural Models: The Ultimate Guide

The role of architectural model in the architectural design process is irreplaceable.
It is because the architectural model is not only a presentation tool, but also an innovative product for everyone.
You can make an architectural model of the new house you just purchased.
Or the interior space of the dream house you’ve recently designed.
This guide mainly introduces the functions, scale, material, techniques, etc. of the architectural models’ function. And you can learn how to make architectural models.
Therefore, with the help of this guide, you can realize so much about architectural model!

Chapter 1:

What is an Architectural Model?

What is an Architectural Model?

C 1.1: The Definition of Architectural Models

As we all know, architects’ knowledge, talent, and skills are the keys to the success of any project.

However, design alone is not the only crucial aspect. Communication during the design process is also essential for the construction project.

Architects must consider how the design will translate from the blueprint to the actual build. Therefore, 3D physical architectural models can be used to express the architects’ designs.

The luxury architectural 3D model making project-Opus Hong Kong

In simple terms, an architectural model is a physical 3D artifact that showcases scale representations of existing or historical buildings.

It is also considered an object of beauty.

C 1.2: The History of Architectural Models

Architectural models have a lengthy history.

One of the earliest instances dates back to 4600 BC when people created fired-clay models of buildings.

Initially, these models were not used to represent design ideas but were created as funerary objects.

The earliest known 3D architectural models appeared during the Han Dynasty in China.

These scale models of pottery buildings imitated wood pavilions.

As building projects became more complex, the use of 3D architectural models increased during the fifteenth century.

Over time, architectural models became more realistic.

During the Renaissance period, models were used to showcase finished designs, such as the Models of Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower.

Model of Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower in 1418

Model of Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower in 1418

In the twentieth century, conceptual architectural models emerged as a means to represent architects’ ideas.

And It became a connection between the fine arts and architecture.

C 1.3: The Evolution of Architectural Models

Architectural models are excellent tools for embodying the design of projects.

Model makers carefully choose materials to represent the building facade’s realism and effects and to create the interior space.

In some cases, model makers create abstract architectural models to showcase unbuildable designs for visionary proposals.

These models fulfill the visual desires of the public, such as the model of Kiesler Endless House.

Fredrick Kiesler Endless House in 1959

Fredrick Kiesler Endless House in 1959

Nowadays, together with the Computer Aided Design and advanced architectural model software engineering.

For example, laser cutting machines, 3D printing can fabricate high-fidelity models with unparalleled detail and precision.

And we are fabricating architectural models with unparalleled detail and precision.

Architectural models serve as an infectious and expressive art language.

In particular, you can use the presentation models in urban planning and architecture design.

These include the homes, resortseducational institutions and other public facilities and buildings, etc.

A presentation model can be used in urban planning.

To cope with the rapid development of the construction industry’s diversification, these models show the clients the design features.

For instance, structure, surrounding environment, the illumination and ventilation inside the building.

How to manufacture an architectural model without error is becoming an urgent necessity.

Furthermore, after considering the current global environmental issues and sustainable development.

It is important to develop green technologies, including processing model materials and architectural model-making methods.

The outcomes and the applications of architectural models keep improving and innovating.

This means that architectural creativity will continue to use architectural models.

Chapter 2:

Functions of Architectural Models

Functions of Architectural Models

Nowadays, people take architectural model as a bridge between architects’ design  ideas to clients to overview.

And it helps to eliminate design flaws before the design being deployed to build.

Moreover, the scale model plays an indispensable role in the planning, fundraising, construction, marketing and sales process of construction projects.

C 2.1: Communication and Overview

Firstly, the model helps you to imagine how the design looks like in reality by visualizing the 2D drawings.

Architectural Model for communication and overview

An Architectural Model for communication and overview (Image from internet).

Making architectural models is an efficient way to help the architect communicate.

Because you can make the modifications to the design before the building is taking place to ensure desired results.

C 2.2: Sales and Marketing

Secondly, you can use the architectural model as a sales tool for selling and marketing real estate.

It can show the potential housing purchaser the location of their units and its surroundings.

A Residential Architectural Model for sales and marketing

 People display the site models can give life to the goal of an exhibition.

Thus, it is an excellent way to show the design of the construction projects.

C 2.3: Public Display and Guidance

You can serve the architectural model as a sitemap for large complex.

For instance, a sitemap for a park to give visitors an idea of  how to get to the desired locations.

Besides, local citizens can also enjoy model exhibition.

A location model for indication

Thus, you can get a better understanding of the project and how this project will affect them.

C 2.4: Fundraising

Having a good architectural model can inspire the investors’ understanding, enthusiasm, and confidence.

A site model for fundraising

And thus help to attract donors and sponsors in a fundraising effort.

C 2.5: Construction Projects Approval and Permits

Specifically, government requires architectural models to ensure whether the certain construction project will be.

And it is cohesive with the local related development plan and the surroundings of the site during the approval process.

It is a perfect way to help to get the construction permit for building projects.

A good architectural model can provide a better understanding of the project.

So, it is easier for the developers to get related approvals.

The Ritz Carton Hotel Model in Moscow

C 2.6: Abstract and Future Architectural Idea

We know the models for the designs which cannot actually build by using today’s technologies.

But, it may help people to imagine the possibilities in the future.

An Abstract Model

Chapter 3:

What are the 3 types of Architectural Design Models?

What are the 3 types of Architectural Design Models?
We can classify the architectural model by its function, technology, material, and time.
Generally, nowadays you can categorize architectural models into types according to their uses.

C 3.1: Architectural Models Classified by Uses

C 3.1.1: Conceptual Model

Model makers make the conceptual scale model at the initial architectural design stage to discover the desired shape, sketches.

It is one of the first approaches to design. You can use the conceptual model to analyze the characteristics of the projects.

Such as the spatial layout, ratio, and surrounding environments. And model makers can modifie these models of foam core and cardboard rapidly and simply.

An example of a conceptual model

As such, a conceptual model is a more cost-effective means of examining particular aspects of a design.

Besides, we are easy and fast to manipulate these conceptual models.

C 3.1.2: Working Models

Working scale models are objects which can assist to find new solutions and show the course of a design project’s development.
And different from conceptual models, model makers take complicated materials like metal, concrete, etc. to make the working models.

An example of a working model

An example of a working model

These models aim to describe detailed shapes, materials and other elements like the building facade.

Furthermore, architects are able to communicate their architectural ideas to the clients by showing working models.

C 3.1.3: Presentation Models

Usually, model makers will make the presentation model which is ranging from town planning to explanation of a Mock-up room.

We usually make these models in detail to give the clients a true reflection of the architectural design.

Particular viewpoints can be addressed by showing the detailed building facade and other elements of the projects.

An Example of the presentation model, Ain Dubai

For example, to bring the model to life, a landscaping model may include a variety of bushes and trees.

Even you can see the actual branches and leaf forms to add to the overall effect.

C 3.2: Architectural Models Classified by Functions

C 3.2.1: Master Plan  Model

Many city planning authorities use urban planning models to promote urban redevelopment.
And it can attract investments and donations as well.

The present city planning models have two types: Older parts can help people to understand what cities looked like in the past.

Updated parts can provide people a vision of the future. These miniature cities models’ come in different shapes and size.

It allows the public to gain perspective on the development of the city.
And it includes land use planning, city landscape, transportation planning, etc.

Most city models are interactive. For example, you can use the touch screencan to control the model.

When you touch the images on the screen, the model will display different lighting zone.

Master Plan Model

The model of “Doha City Planning Model” is an impressive example of master plan model.

It contains 1000 resin miniature buildings and even every corner of the Doha city.

C 3.2.2: Office Building Model

Model maker created the office building model in a high level of detail.

Clients requested to make the model to provide an impressive and realistic representation of a construction project.

Generally, it is used for marketing or building exhibition.

Office Building Model

The office building model brings the architect’s design to life by creating various lighting configuration, detailed building facade.

Especially windows details and textures and other elements like people, vehicles, and surrounding landscape.

C 3.2.3: Residential Building Model

Residential building models are invaluable tools in the retail world.

Because these can be used for pre-construction approval, building project phasing, design presentation and client approval.

Residential Building Model

They can provide the potential housing buyer or investors a good understanding of the architectural design.

And the model can show the road and path layout, entrance, building material and the living environment.

Therefore, it is a great tool for the real estate sales office for marketing.

C3.2.4: Villa Model

Model makers usually make villa models in small scale, for example, 1:25, 1:50.

Sometimes, model maker used mechanized components of model for taking the floor levels up and down to show the design.

Villa model

Basically, it can include the furniture, the lighting fixtures, swimming pools and other amenities. Model makers use the model to illustrate the projects to the potential housing owners and assisting them to sell plots.

C3.2.5: Shopping Mall Model

The primary function of shopping mall models is attracting investments and merchants to settle down. In order to represent commercial atmosphere, the materials used to make retailing models are always matching with the finished design.

Shopping Mall Model

Shopping mall model reproduced the interior designs of a shopping mall. Other components like backlit signage, LED billboards, etc can help to enhance the overall effect of adding to the models.

C 3.2.6: Hotel Model

The main purpose of making a hotel model is to show a vivid image of the hotel’s features. It can attract investments and potential hotel guests. Model makers create a variation of lighting effect to make a distinction between commercial and residential areas. So that it can highlight the extraordinary designs.

Hotel Model

Architectural model makers replicate all the sophisticated details perfectly. Components like real water gushing system can produce remarkable effects when it is used to make swimming pools and fountains.

C 3.2.7: Stadium Model

At present, new stadiums are popping up since the sport is becoming increasingly popular.

Stadium Model

The stadium model has two main functions. One is expressing the design concept of the stadium. And the other is displaying the stadium seating plan to the audience. Electric lights and manicured grass are critical when making the stadium models.

C 3.2.8: Theme Park Model

Architectual model maker use the theme park models widely for public display and generate clients’ interest to attract investments. Theme park model can tell the theme stories which inform and inspire people in an education and entertaining way.

Theme Park Model

Entertainment facilities like ray speed circuit, startle castle and waterfalls are the key components to make a realistic effect.

C 3.2.9: Museum Model

Moreover, the current design of the museum is tending to be modern and abstract especially its shapes.

In order to reflect these bold design ideas, high-tech and effective technologies and skilled architectural model builders are both indispensables.

Museum Model

In many cities, the museum ofter be as the landmark of the city. Therefore, the city government requires elaborate and detailed museum model to attract visitors all over the world.

C 3.2.10: Industrial Model

The industrial model demonstrates how the factory operating. For examples, it includes varies facilities of the manufacturing plant and waste treatment process, etc.

Factory Model

Sometimes, the industrial model requires customized components such as wind turbine and chimney to represent the real conditions. And adding some landscaping detail, trucks and workers can bring the factory model to life.

C 3.2.11: Bridge Model

In most cases, model makers create the bridge model  for exhibition purpose and architecture design competition. It requires a high level of detail to represent the features and motion of the bridge.

Bridge Model

For instance, this bridge model incorporates copper wire and smooth casting premium fishing line to look as realistic as possible.

C 3.2.12: Shipyard Model

In reality, a shipyard is divided into several working zones according to different types of work in production. And it includes component fabricating area, preassembling and coating area, assembling area, docking area, etc. The
shipyard model illustrates the whole manufacturing process.

Shipyard Model

In order to bring the model to life,  we created a variety of buildings types, shipbuilding facilities. Sometimes, model maker will produce the lights and other details such as a wide range of ships and cranes.

C 3.2.13: Airport Model

In most instances, we create airport model to represent the design in airport architecture competition. And the operation of the airport to the airport authority.

Sometimes, model makers create the airport model for fundraising efforts, community acceptance or private collection as well.

Airport model maker will create the airport model look as realistic as possible.

Airport Model

We create to scale the airport runway, taxiway, control towers, cargo and terminal buildings, airport hotel, passenger bridges.

And even other accurate details like signage on each plane. The distribution of hundreds of marking light points is especially important to offer to chase and to flash light effects.

C 3.2.14: Interior Model

Model makers create the interior models according to different functions such as industrial, commercial, office and home interior models.

Sometimes,  the roof of the interior model is removable to show how the interior space is designed. Or it included the decoration as well as the selection of furniture.

Interior Model

It is extensively used in real estate market to attract potential home buyers or investments in sales offices.

C 3.2.15: Landscape Model

Generically, a landscape model incorporates a variety of specific features of the area. Landscape model includes the topography, the evolution on the buildings, various types of settlement like farms and parks.

Besides, the purpose of the landscape model is to analyze the impact of terrain changes, and other possible environmental influence.

After scaling down the site to a smaller scale, model maker can accurately recreate every scenario for the relevant departments to explore new development plans.

Moreover, landscape model can assist public consultation process as well. In some cases, model maker can use it to give the public an insight into their living conditions.

Landscape Model

Chapter 4:

Materials of Architectural Models

Materials of Architectural Models

C 4.1: Introduction

Similar to the function of sketches, the architectural models are three-dimensional objects.

These are serves as important tools for the architect to present ideas to colleagues, clients, government and the public.

With the high-speed development and the diversification of the architecture industry.

And it has become necessary to produce architectural models as artistically and fast as possible.

Therefore, the materials to make architectural models play an important role in the model-making process.

C 4.2: Material Types

Approximately 75% of contemporary architectural models are made from solid block materials.

For examples, plastic, foam, and wood or fabricated from purchased sheets of board stock, such as cardboard.

Material selection is not only about meeting technical requirements, but also requires architects to consider their related characteristics.

The material’s appearance and durability, sensory stimulation are key elements of the architectural model making.

Because architectural models can represent the architects’ design vision, material selection has a huge impact on how a model feels.

Models made by different materials

To choose appropriate materials, the architects need to take into account certain design criteria to identify the best materials.

For example, materials used to create conceptual models are best if they are easy and quick to form.

On the one hand,  presentation models requires durable, stable and fade-resistant materials.

Therefore, model makers need sufficient material information to facilitate a constructive material selection process.

As a reference the following is a list of architectural model-making materials.

C 4.3: Plastics

C 4.3.1: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is in widespread use to make architectural models.

Because it’s easy to soluble in acetone which allows model makers to weld parts together.

And it can assemble much larger than what architectural models than the admittedly large bed of the printers can accommodate.

Model makers use ABS to make architectural models which are extremely beautiful.

Architectural model made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

C 4.3.2: Acrylic

Acrylic sheets are lightweight, flexible plastic and with a better finish.

It has good transmittance, hardness and ease to machining.

Architectural model made of acrylic sheets

Most oftenly, model makers use acrylic to create windows and facade of the models to make gloss and fluorescent effects.

However, this kind of building model-making material is expensive.

Model makers need to use laser machine to cut and engraved it.

C4.3.3: Polyamide

Polyamide can provide a realistic implementation of complex detail designs for its character of high precision, firmness, and surface smoothness.

In fact, it is one of the toughest model building materials among all other 3D printed plastics.

Architectural models made of polyamide are generally printed with selective laser sintering (SLS) printing technology.

Model made of Polyamide

Model made of polyamide (Image from internet)

C 4.3.4: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Sheet

PVC Mirror Sheet is a rigid sheet but it is not as rigid as glass.

It has became a popular choice as an architectural model-making, materials.

Because PVC Mirror Sheet’s shatterproof and lightweight properties.

C 4.4: Wood

Model makers use wood and wood-based products as the most commonly materials for architectural model making.

It is a strong material with dimensional stability.

The following are the introduction of some frequently-used woods.

C 4.4.1: Basswood

Basswood is a type of fine-grained strip wood.

And basswood has outstanding work-ability and finishing qualities.

Architectural model of window and door made of basswood

So, model makers use it to make the architectural model of buildings and their interior miniature furniture.

C 4.4.2: Balsa Wood

Balsa wood is a type of hardwood with a nice finish and texture.

Model maker can cut, painted and sanded it easily.

And it is one of the building model-making materials to make the structure and the framework of the buildings.

Architectural model made of balsa wood

However, it is fragile and this condition usually leads to material wastage.

Also, some people consider, the slotted surface of balsa wood unappealing.

C 4.4.3: Medium-density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is similar to thick cardboard. It has smooth edges, natural color and it is easy to work with.

However, this material is relatively dense and heavy.

Considering the total weight of the architectural model and its stability. So, model makers use MDF for the bases of the model.

C 4.4.4: Cork Flooring

Cork flooring provides a feeling of nature.

So, it is good for making landscape models such as models of hilly places.

Model makers also use it as a solid base, but better with other materials for its soft and cushion surface.

Architectural model made of made of cork flooring

On the other hand, disadvantages to be aware of are:

  1. Cork flooring is susceptible to damage.
  2. It needs sealing work to protect it against water stains and other damages.
  3. It may decolorate if exposed to the sun for a long time.

C 4.5: Paper

C 4.5.1: Cardboard

Cardboard is a common model-making material.

Many architectural models use cardboard to show roads, pathways, and certain terrains by building them up in layers.

Architectural Model made of Cardboard

Architectural Model made of Cardboard (Image from internet)

It is inexpensive, portable, recyclable and exceptionally flexible.

It is easy to use without the need for special equipment during the production and installation process of the model.

C 4.5.2: Kraft Board

When making the large-scale architectural models, a kraft board is an ideal model building material.

Because kraft board models are meant to present the relationship between the building and its surroundings.

Architectural model made of Kraft Board

Architectural model made of kraft board (Image from internet)

Normally, it is not easy to cutthe kraft board cleanly and cannot make the edges to look 100% smooth.

Therefore, an architectural model made of this material has a very strong structure.

C 4.6: Foam

Foam is extremely useful to make mass and study models.

The commonly used foams are styrofoam, compressed foam board, and blue foam.

Thus, model makers widely use compressed foam board as a model base or to make models.

Blue foam always is a best choice to shape sculptural form.

You can paint the surfaces of the foam with any kinds of water-soluble paint.

C 4.6.1: Insulation Board

Model makers use it to make concept models.

And insulation board usually comes in several colors, gray, pink, and brown.

The brown one is rougher and looser, so model makers prefer it for site models.

Insulation board is light and easy to cut.

Insulation board is light and easy to cut.

Architects use this material to make small-scale buildings for the architectural model of a street or a town.

Nevertheless, the architectural models made by insulation boards are kind of easy to be damaged.

Especially the edges and corners due to the fragility of the material.

C 4.6.2: Gator Board

Different from foam core board, gator board is easier to build and has a smooth finish.

It is an ideal material to make a quick, large-scale construction of an architectural models.

Because it has a lightweight, moisture-resistance surface that is easy to cut with a knife.

House Model made of Gator Board (Image from internet)

House model made of gator board (Image from internet)

Generally, model maker use gator board as a substrate for displays.

You can also choose it as a base plate for wet materials which require a water-resistant backing while the coating dries.

C 4.7: Glass

Nowadays, model makers are no longer use glass only for window modeling.

Model makers use it to show water or to highlight cut edges as a design element in architectural models.

Water and building facade made of glass

C 4.8: Metal

Metal is a good choice to make building facade, frames, bases, form-works and other metal structures.

To enhance the appearance of metal sheets,it is necessary to first polish their surface.

Model made of metal

Model makers often use copper, aluminum, and steel sheets to make architectural models.

And metal is easy to work with and has a remarkable appearances.

C 4.9: Clay and Plasticine

In the past, clay and plasticize is a good choice to express initial design concepts.

Because these architectural model-making materials are very easy to shape and knead.

Clay used for modeling has a fine texture and is easy to smooth.

Therefore, it is one of the best materials for architectural study models.

Model made of Clay

Model made of clay (Image from internet)

Also, rolled into thick sheets, you can also cut clay and plasticize to make walls for large-scale presentation models.

When making the architectural model of buildings, model makers usually represent the openings by cut-out recesses.

You can make other building components in advance and applied to the walls to model elaborate facades.

C 4.10: Model Plant Materials

C 4.10.1: Dark Green Coarse Turf Bag

The primary use of the dark green coarse turf bag is to create low grasses, leaves, and weeds.

Moreover, it can help to add texture and forms a smooth transition from low ground cover to  high ground cover.

Landscape model made of Dark Green Coarse Turf Bag

Landscape model made of dark green coarse turf bag (Image from internet)

C 4.10.2: Forest Green Bushes Bag

Generally, model makers use forest green bushes bag to make medium to high ground covers like bushes, shrubs, and trees.

Model of landscape scenery made of forest green bushes

It is also ideal to make medium to large trees and architectural model grass.

You can use model-making material in any scale.

C 4.10.3: Flocking

Flocking is a great base model-making material commonly been used to represent architectural model grass and low foliage landscapes.

It seems to be an easier route than the static grass.

C 4.11: Scenery Elements

Scenery elements are the ready-made components which of architectural models.

These include miniature doors, windows, skylights and other building parts such as furniture, figures, vehicles, model trees, and other elements.

Scenery Elements like figures, vehicles, trees

Scenery elements like figures, vehicles, trees

Because these products add life to architectural models and offer the clients a comparative sense of scale.

C 4.12:Conclusion

Modern and contemporary architectural models are diverse in terms of model building materials and their purpose.

Thanks to the diversity of colors, strength, and workability of many materials.

The architectural model has became an irreplaceable tool to study and give definition to architectural ideas in three dimensions.

Chapter 5:

How to choose the scale of architectural models

How to choose the scale of architectural models

C 5.1: Introduction

You can recognize the scale models as a necessities for the architectural profession.

There are many different scales of architectural models.

Generally a physical architectural model is usually reduced in scale compared the actual building size.

Scale architectural models in 1:80, City of Dream by Zaha Hadid

When making architectural models, the relative proportions need to be the same as the real architectural objects.

Choosing a proper scale before making an architectural model is very important.

Because it will have an effect on the architectural models and so it will impact its cost as well.

The following are some key points that may help to decide what scale to use on an architectural models.

C 5.2:Identifying the Purpose

Generally, you can make architectural models depending on the needs of representation.

In other words, the overall purpose of choosing the right scale is to make the model look as convincing as possible.

The clients need to define at which stage of the design the scale models.

For the design stage, study architectural models are recommended.

So, you can use working architectural models for design improvements and modifications.

And model maker use the presentation widely in the final design stage of a design project.

C 5.3: Considering the Conditions and Costs

C 5.3.1: Viewing Experience 

Firstly, the location on which architectural models will be presented is another important thing  to be taken into account.

Thus, the exhibition of the architectural model should leave enough space for public viewing.

And also it should avoid the sense of emptiness of the exhibition hall.

C 5.3.2: Convenient Transportation

In some cases, you have to move the architectural models frequently from place to place.

The scale and weight of the models are then especially important.

Architectural models for marketing should fit well into a marketing suite.

C 5.3.3: Budget and Deadline

Budget and project deadlines are also a big issue when deciding the scale of architectural models.

Because a detailed architectural model requires a relatively longer producing time and higher cost.

C 5.4: Selecting the Scale and Size

Scale dictates the level of detail that can be presented.

Large-scale architectural models have a highly visible level of detailing.

The smaller the scale indicator number, the larger the model, and this means you can illustrate more detail.

In addition, lots of scenery elements are pre-produced by the industrial factories.

Usage of pre-produced scenery elements

Therefore, you should consider whether the scale selected will match the standard scales in the modeling industry.

C 5.5: Common Scales of Architectural Models

 C 5.5.1: 1:1-25 Product Model, Interior Model

1:1 to 1:10 architectural models are not very common to see in the architectural model-making industry.

Basically, architectural model makers only manufacture these big scale models when the clients have specific needs.

Life Sized Model

Model makers call the 1:1 scale model as a life-sized model.

You can use these detail models as presentation models to show pretty much the same detail as the actual products.

Model makers make life-sized models for particular needs.

For example, sometimes the real object is really heavy and not easy to transport, therefore a life-sized, lightweight model is required.

Product Model

The product model comes from the design of objects such as furniture.

The conventional scales of product models are 1:1 to 1:10.

Model makers always use these product models for desktop display of cars and motorcycles.

Product Model, V-engine scale in 1:4

Interior Model

1:5 to 1:25 scale interior model is great for representing a lot of realistic details inside a building.

Interior model can represent well the room layouts, selections of furniture, miniature people, and other detailed components.

Generally,  not many interior models are made on this big scale.

1:5 Scale interior models

  • 1:10-50 Facade Model, Section Part of Model, Interior Model

Facade Model

Sometimes, you need a facade model to show the unique design of the exterior wall or the entrance.

It is a very authentic representation of several exterior design elements especially the building material, the windows and the doors.

In other cases, model makers create facade models for exhibitions.

These architectural models are a very good expression of different architectural styles throughout history.

1:30 Scale facade model

Interior Model

The interior model is a perfect tool for real estate developers to attract potential home buyers and investors.

The 1:10 to 1:25 scale interior model is a good representation of the designed interior space.

Because, it offers a real spatial situation to the viewers.

In most cases, the roof of the building can be removed to show the interior design.

And a large-scale interior model is usually fits in a ‘blank box’ with the ceiling being removed.

  • 1:50-300 Interior Model, Building Model

Section Model

The section part of a model provides an internal view of the model by exposing the construction details.

So you can view the structure, foundation and other important features clearly.

1:150 scale section model

1:50 to 1:150 is the most popular scale for a section model.

The section part of the model is usually used to present the structural and spatial qualities of architectural design.

Layout Model

The 1:50 to 1:100 scale layout model allows you to see the layout of the rooms on each floor.

That way, the design and layout arrangements of the interior space can be made visible.

Model makers use these architectural models extensively by real estate developers to sell houses.

1:50 Scale Layout Model

1:50 Scale Layout Model

Building Model

The most widely used scales for building models are 1:100, 1:150, 1:200 and 1:300.

The balconies, windows and detailed building facades, etc can be shown at these scales.

1:100 scale building model

You can represent the buildings’ facades well when using these scales.

And the biggest scale may be a better choice if specific detailed elements of the building need to be shown,

  • 1:300-1000, Building Model, Site Model

Building Model

A 1:300 to 1:500 scale models give people a better understanding of how buildings fit to the site and their surroundings.

It also allow people to see the building floors and the internal structure.

1:300 scale building model

Building models are very authentic representations usually displayed in the reception area of home, selling office.

Site Model

You can see many site architectural models for real estate fairs.

And the most commonly used scale is 1:500 and 1:1000, it is portable and is useful for exhibitions.

Site models are ideal to give a perfect overview of the site layout with a recognizable level of detail.

1:1000 site model

  • 1:1000-5000, Site plans, City Planning Model, Islands.

Site plans

For a particularly large site, you might need a smaller scale architectural model.

The primary purpose of a site plan model is to represent the essential idea of the design.

Another use of the site plan model is to show the relationship between the project’s site and its surroundings.

Compared to larger-scale models, small-scale architectural models are much faster and easier to make.

Site plan models  contains massing representing buildings, road network, greening and other surrounding elements.

1:1000 Site Plan Model

1:1000 Site Plan Model

By showing the overall design concept and the relationship of the existing and new constructions.

And the site plan model is a common illustrative tool for attracting investments.

City Planning Model

The city planning model is usually made on a really small scale to represent the development plan or history of a city.

Local governments use city models to present the new planning proposals or infrastructure to the public.

Model makers use the most widely scales for city planning models are 1:1000 to 1:3000.

You can see the amount of detail is limited because buildings of the model are always fabricated as massing blocks.

By installing illumination systems to the model, you can see the highlighted key sites such as new development zones.

Island Scale Model

The emphasis of the model is on the relationships of the existing natural environment and the addition of new structures.

1:5000 scale island model

You can use island scale models for architecture model exhibition in most cases.

And the LED lighting helps to highlight the special sites of the island.

C 5.6: Conclusion

There are several trade offs in choosing the appropriate scale of architectural models.

Two key factors are the number of details that the client wants to show and the purpose of the exhibition.

Others factors are equally important such as the budget, the deadline, the mobility,  and the functionality of the architectural models.

Having a well understanding of the model scale will offers a very clear demonstration of the architectural model projects.

Chapter 6:

Interactive Architectural Model Display Techniques

Interactive Architectural Model Display Techniques

C 6.1: Introduction

The interactive architectural model is an ideal tool to represent an architects’ design concept and project development.

It is also a fresh and interesting model display option in the exhibition like real estate sales center.

Nowadays, interactive architectural model is becoming more and more popular.

Because interactive element to an architectural model can provide the viewers an impressive presentation.

The interaction with the architectural models creates better communication between the audiences and the project.

Typically, an integrated interactive model consists of an architectural model, a computer with supported software, a variety of control panels.

C 6.2:Lighting Control

Illuminating specific areas of the architectural models can add extra visual effects.

You can operate the illumination system via a wide range of equipment.

With just a click of a button or a touch of a tablet, selected areas on the architectural model can be lighted up.

And the model with color while others are remain turned off.

The following are three typical ways to control the lighting system of architectural models.

C 6.2.1: Control Station

Adding interaction of lights to the model can highlight its significant features.

Push-button control systems, control stations such as the Inspire Control Station are extensively used to control the lights.

You can activate the lights of models by certain labeled buttons or by a the combinations of buttons and fader.

In most circumstance, a control station contains several independent lighting systems that can light up different areas of the model.

Lighting effects controlled via a control station

A control station has a relatively affordable low price.

Also, a control station is more durable for public interaction for its simple operational processes and inexpensive maintenance costs.

C 6.2.2: Control Panel

Surface-mounted or rack-mounted touch screens are a commonly used control to turn on or off multiple lighting zones of models.

And here is a wide range of touch screens are produced to suit customers’ requirements.

Touch screens provide a better user-experience than control stations.

Lighting system controlled via an interactive touch screen for Omkar Worli 1973 model in 1:75

Control panels comprises a variety of control elements and are supported by Ethernet network such as Link Connect.

So you can easily manage the lighting systems by only taping the screen.

It can illuminate the Individual parts of the architectural models separately or simultaneously.

In general, we link the control panelto the physical model with LEDs.

The model can be pop up, flash, pulsate or rotate when you press a button on the control panel interface.

Besides, control panels always comes with a tabletop stand.

When you touch the related options on the control panel, you can play back the detailed information.

For example, drawings, architectural rendering, video, and animations of the project.

You can use the control panels in sales offices or exhibition centers to interact with potential investors or homebuyers.

C 6.2.3: Tablets, Smart-Phones, and Gestures

You can take models as the base, and the use of mobile devices such as iPads to control lighting, ambiance.

This displaying of the model via portable devices gives great mobility and flexibility.

And it is also more convenient for users who could now view the architectural model from different angles.

Model display controlled through an iPad

The use of physical gestures is another new coming technique for interactive model presentations.

It helps the architects to demonstrate the design idea in a more engaging and highly attractive way.

Based on movement sensors positioned on the model and activated through gestures, users can explore model via entertaining activities.

Moreover, multiple cable or Wi-Fi-based lighting control systems, software, and apps  are designed to optimize the model display.

Portable model control devices should be easy to use and upgrade.

And it enhances the interaction of architectural models at a greater level.

C 6.3: Mechanically Operable Model Displays

The static architectural model only shows limited aspects of the project.

Compared to the traditional architectural models, life-and-up models can better meet the construction market’s demands.

A mechanically operable model can represent the building design in a unique and impressive way.

It can give a good level of detail to the architectural model from various viewing angles.

Suzhou Centre architectural mechanically operable model is made according to customer demands and the spatial conditions of the exhibition place.

C 6.3.1: Bottom-Top Model Display

The lifting system is the key part of a bottom-top model display.

It includes a model, a lift installed at the base of the model, a control panel, and a remote control.

Firstly, the model maker should consider the weight of the model before manufacturing the lifting equipment.

If the model is provided with a going up and down effect, it will be a more vivid and lifelike model representation.

The model display process would then be accomplished by dynamically raising and lowering the model.

The staff in charge of operating the model could control the lifting height via remote control.

C 6.3.2: Parted in the Middle Model Display

The main goal of the parted in the middle model display is to give the architectural model a good level of detail.

For example, the interior design, decoration and other facilities.

The sliding system works as the center of the model display, parting in the middle the model display.

Parted in the middle model dynamic display

C 6.3.2: Customized Model Display

A customized lift-up architectural model must meet various customer demands.

Model makers can manufacture adjustable components of architectural model, assembled and installed according to your needs.

C 6.4: Projections and Wall Screen Displays

Model makers use the projections and wall screen displays widely in exhibition centers for architectural models.

These advanced multimedia create a new expression of architectural design.

Istanbul Big City Planning Model in scale 1:1000 projection display

C 6.4.1: System Composition and Operation

Projections and wall screen displays are based on the physical scale model.

You can use the touch screen integrated machine, a lighting control system, multimedia software, and other elements to support it.

To create a professional illustration of the architectural model, a projector with different accuracies is required according to specific requirements.

Projections and wall screen displays integrate multiple elements including images, animation, project description, and music.

Multimedia interpretations play a leading role in the architectural model displays.

After installing several cameras in the physical model, you can see the information of the model on the screen synchronized.

Usually, there are three basic types of demonstration systems:

  • Automatic Demonstration System

Firstly, we will control an automatic demonstration system by a computer and operated using a series of software programs.

When there is no public participation, this system is an ideal option for exhibitions with a large number of visitors.

Automatic multimedia model display

Automatic multimedia model display (Image from internet)

  • Remote Control Demonstration System

Equipped with a control system, you can operate the demonstration system from any corner of the model at the hall.

Remote control multimedia model display

Remote control multimedia model display (Image from internet)

  • Manual Demonstration System

A manual demonstration system allows the visitors to fully take part in the architectural model display activities.

When you touches a device, such as a fixed touch screen, the model is lit from above by projectors.

And meanwhile the media wall responds to their interactions.

This kind of system is well-suited for small-scale exhibitions or home selling events.

Manual control multimedia model display

Manual control multimedia model display (Image from internet)

C 6.4.2: Functionality and Benefits

  • Artistic and Vivid Demonstration

Model makers use wall screens and projections commonly to play animations or project images.

It can help you to visualize and understand the design idea or the future developments of a project.

And it is also an eye-catching way to tell the story of the project.

The use of wall screens and projections allows you to switch different views or see the project day and night.

  • Real Estate Sales Tool

Incorporating physical models, wall screens and projections can assist developers to generate more potential sales and investment opportunities.

C 6.5: Conclusion

Interactive architectural models can give visitors a much more engaging and informative model exploring experience.

Using varied interactive technologies to represent an architectural model can enhance the impact of a design.

Besides, an interactive architectural model is a sophisticated marketing tool for real estate developers to attract potential investors or homebuyers.

And the interactive architectural model displaying techniques develop a new visual language to interpret design ideas.

Chapter 7:

Architectural Model Maintenance

Architectural Model Maintenance

C 7.1: Introduction

Architectural models will become more fragile with time for a number of reasons.

The main factors are the conditions of the exhibition sites, the natural decay, and the transport of the models.

Architectural model maintenance work is especially vital to ensure that scale models will survive for the enjoyment of future visitors.

If you know the tips of how to transit, display, and storing that will protect the models.

C 7.2: Architectural Model Maintenance

Each architectural model is unique and has its own model maintenance issues.

Before making the model maintenance plan, the following questions need to be taken into consideration.

  • What risks the architectural models are exposed to?
  • What maintaining practices are in place?
  • How often should be the architectural model maintenance?

The following sections introduce several model maintenance tips which can help to carry on the model maintenance works.

C 7.2.1: Create a Proper Environment

Keeping architectural models in a consistent and appropriate environment is crucial.

Changes in temperature, pollution, and the humidity of the environment will affect the useful time of models.

And they will cause deformations like the cracking of the rooftops and the bulge of the turfs.

Generally, air ventilation systems, heating equipment, solar radiation, and the number of visitors affect the environment of the exhibit areas.

Create a stable and properly controlled environment of the exhibition hall is critical to the long-term maintenance procedure of models.

The following are a few measures that help to set up an ideal environment.

  • Assign specialized staff to monitor the exhibit conditions.
  • Install humidity control equipment as needed.

An ideal choice is a humidity level of approximately 30–80%.

Because architectural models are made of different materials which can withstand various temperatures.

Steady temperature of around 5 to 35 degrees will be good.

Avoid placing architectural models near fireplaces and smoking areas

Avoid placing models overexposing them to the sun to reduce the negative effects of high temperatures.

  • Apply pollution control systems

Pollutants like particles and gaseous pollutants will harm the models.

It is essential to minimize the models’ exposure to the pollutants.

General housekeeping activities like cleaning the windows, floors, especially the model display stand and showcase can reduce the air pollutants.

Besides, assessing the air quality within the exhibition hall is necessary. And adequate ventilation can lower pollutant concentrations.

It is important to ensure the display area is well ventilated.

You can do it by incorporating air filtration equipment into the exhibit areas.

In addition, using multi-functional sensors for air pollutants is helpful.

Lastly, Pests can create big trouble for architectural models.

Keep an appropriate temperature, relative humidity levels can reduce pest activity and mold growth.

Moreover, regular and monitoring for pests can discourage insect activities.

C 7.2.2: Install and Monitor Appropriate Lighting

lights of architectural models can improve the display effect of the models.

Lights of architectural models can improve the display effect of architectural models.

However, the colors of the surface of the model will fade and change with exposure to light.

So, reducing the harmful effects of visible light, UV light and infrared radiation are important factors.

  • UV light is usually coming from fluorescent lamps and natural daylight.

It helps to eliminate the sources of natural light by covering windows with shades.

For fluorescent lights, installing UV filters on the bulbs can help to reduce the amount of UV exposure.

  • To reduce the harmful effects, you can turn off the lights of models at least once every 8 hours.

Make sure the lights are off at closing time.

  • Also monitor and control the light levels of the models to reduce the negative effect of lights.
  • Ventilate the lighting switch box to dissipate heat from light fixtures.

The use of electric fans may be a good choice.

Lights on the architectural models can improve their display effect.

C 7.2.3: Keep the Remote Control Properly

We know that using a remote controls to control interactive architectural models is popular.

To extend the useful life of architectural models, not only the model itself but also the control devices need safekeeping.

The control devices need safe keeping.

C 7.2.4: Protection Against Visitor Damage

Considering the vulnerability of architectural models, it is necessary to have additional security measures to protect the models.

  • Place a notice board in the display area of the model reminding visitors to keep a certain distance away.
  • Protect architectural models using protective hardware such as acrylic cover, glass shield, or enclosed glass panels.
  • Do not let the children touch the model to avoid electric shocks or damage to the models.

C 7.2.5: Ensure Enough Storage of Spare Materials and Components

As time goes by, architectural models will have superficial damage and broken and loose parts.

In some cases, model items like figures, trees, vehicles, and furniture may be missing from the exhibition.

The ideal number of reserves can be 5% of the completed models.

These missing pieces or moving parts may sometimes need replacement.

C 7.3: Architectural Model Cleaning

A cleaning job is especially important when architectural projects are taking longer to show the model for a long time.

  • Dry clean the architectural model surface.

You can clean the model surface with a clean towel, sponge and soft brushes to removes loose dirt and dust.

  • Model makers should clean the architectural models without a glass cover regularly.

A specialized dusting machine and a vacuum cleaner are in needed.

  • Some parts of architectural models need washing to remove the dust and blemishes. In this case, a mild detergent will be an ideal choice.
keep an architectural model dust free.

It is not simple to keep an architectural model dust-free.

C 7.4: Architectural Model Conservation

An architectural model needs proper conservation so that the models will remain in good condition for future exhibitions.

And under some circumstances, model makers need to collect the architectural models as important exhibition collections.

Thus, the following are some architectural model conservation techniques that may ensure the desired safety and stability of the models.

C 7.4.1: Create a Suitable Storage Environment

The model storage area should be separate from the exhibit or working areas.

And model maker should use it only to house architectural models.

constant environment

This area should have a constant environment where temperature and humidity levels are kept at recommended levels.

C 7.4.2: Select an Appropriate Storage Measure

An architectural model which requires long time conservation can be covered with acrylic or glass with an airtight seal.

These storage units should be able to protect the models from sun fading, water damage, pollutants accumulation, and insect damage.

For models that only need temporary preservation or models that cannot have a physical cover.

A good choice could be the use of tissue paper, plastic film, or fabric to cover them.

Moreover, model makers should  keep in mind is that, these covers need to be washed regularly.

C 7.4.3: Choose a Suitable Storage Location

Avoid placing architectural models on the ground to protect them against unexpected risks like water damage.

Similarly, to avoid external damage, do not put models close to windows, pipelines, mechanical and electrical equipment.

C 7.4.4: Periodically Inspect Architectural Model in Storage.

Inspections should be carried on to check the condition of the architectural models.

So this can help timely notice, the signs of deterioration and other damages like insect injury.

C 7.5: Architectural Model Repair

Sometimes, architectural model pieces will be missing or continue to deteriorate over time.

The replacement of missing items and repair work helps make sure that the model can survive for a longer time.

In most cases, model-making companies employ a specialist who has vast experience in different fields in the architectural-model repair service.

Missing architectural model items can be remade by traditional hand craftsmanship together with high-tech model-making approaches such as 3D printing.

C 7.6: Architectural Model Handling

Architectural models are at risk of damage in transit or through inappropriate handling.

We listed the specialist model packing, handling, and transiting approaches during movement as follows.

  • Hire a professional model makging company to transport architectural models.

It is important to have a carrier personnel with rich experience in lifting, supporting and handling architectural model.

Sometimes, vehicles equipped with shock absorption, temperature control, and humidity control devices are also in needed.

  • Carefully pack the architectural models with suitable materials. Use polystyrene foam, paper, and corrugated cardboard to protect them.

If you need to be ship the model by rail, shock-resistant and sturdy cases that can withstand wide climatic variations.

  • Ensure less shock and vibration when handling the architectural models.

An anti-vibration packing case can help to reduce the risk of model breakages while transiting.

  • Control damage from handling via physical protections and appropriate handling techniques for architectural models.

For example, model makers can wear gloves to avoid oil from their hands on the surface of the model.

So, using additional assistance or support underneath when handling heavy or large architectural models.

  • Choose a proper form of transportation.

Model makers can transited architectural models via air, road and rail, sea according to specific circumstances.

And choose the most appropriate mode of transport to keep the balance between expense and conservation.

For instance, small architectural models can be transited in passenger cars when need to be transited a short distance.

C 7.7: Conclusion

To summarize, it is very important to set up an appropriate maintenance schedule to keep the model in great condition.

The model maintenance measure varies from model to model according to the use and the condition of different architectural models.

The primary purpose of model maintenance is to ensure that models are stored or displayed in a suitable environment.

So that it will not cause them to deteriorate.

In addition, packing, moving, handling, general awareness of physical care of the architectural models are equally important.


Architectural Model

If the scale model was somehow damaged while in our custody, then we will repair it free of charge.

It can examine and express architectural designs as well as to fascinate the public during exhibitions.

Relatively advanced model-making techniques are coming out to enhance the functions and aesthetics of architectural models.

Also, there is a great need to know how to maintain architectural models to optimize their value-in-use.

The use of architectural models is at the peak of its history and it will continue to develop.

Therefore, architectural designers not only use scale model to present and communicate their design ideas.

Moreover, it also bring a building, or a complex, to life off the plan.

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