architectural model making

Does Architectural Model Making Still Matter?

When you can use 3D visualization technology to build architectural models, does it make sense for companies to pay for architectural hand build models? Let's explore the traditional way of architectural model making and why it still matters in this age of 3D technologies.

 These days, most architectural firms only make a couple of hand built models a year. 

CAD software lets us create intricate designs. It also creates a physical representation through 3D printing. To take it a step further, you can even view your 3D models in virtual reality.

With this technology available, surely handmade architectural model making is now a thing of the past?

But we really don't think this is the case. There are still many benefits to holding onto your modeling tools instead of trading them in for software.

Here are some reasons why you should stick with hand built models.

Handmade Models Are Exciting

There's nothing our clients love more than seeing a scale model of their design. Hand built models trigger a sense of childlike excitement in a way that a 3D rendering simply cannot hope to match.

While 3D models can provide greater levels of detail, it requires a bit of effort to understand the design. The client has to try and visualize what the building will look like in reality. This drastically reduces the "wow factor" of seeing the designs for the first time.

With a handmade model, nothing is left to the imagination: the impact is instantaneous.

Architectural Model Making Provides a Prototype

Here, we like to see a representation of our projects in the real world before we commit to the final build.

If we rely exclusively on 3D architectural modeling software, we don't see the design in reality until the project is completed. This means the building is effectively a prototype since it is the first real, physical iteration of the design.

A physical model, even on a small scale, helps us and our clients to get a feel for the effect the design will have in the real world.

Anyone who has made a lot of handmade models can relate - you get all of the materials you need together, and you start cutting them down to size. As you assemble the model, it becomes apparent that the design just doesn't work. Maybe the windows are too big, or maybe the building doesn't let in enough light. 

When you work on a computer, you're working in a purely visual format. This can make it harder to recognize when you have made a mistake early on in the process.

More Than Just a Design Tool

Handmade architectural models can also be very useful when the design process has already been completed. Many of our clients use 3D architectural models as a proof of concept, to help raise the funds for their project. Nothing impresses a potential backer more than a detailed scale model.

Scale models can also be used to showcase your development project to the public. it's the perfect way to show people what a finished project is going to look like.

When you have a good quality scale model, this means you don't need to work as hard to convince your clients to invest in the project. You can just let your prototype design do the talking.

Also, architecture is an art that affects your emotion. Your prototype should also be art, and the best way to do so is to be hands-on.

3D Printing Taking Over?

3D printing is quickly gaining momentum. You might think that building architectural models by hand will become obsolete as a result. But many of the world's most successful architects are huge advocates for working in the real world over working digitally.

For instance, Juhani Pallasmaa believes that it's important to utilize all of the senses when designing. He argues that 3D modeling software limits creativity and imagination.

Working with hand built models can be a time-consuming process. But as you assemble the model over a course of a few hours, you'll gain an astute understanding of the structure. You could never do so working only in CAD software.

3D printing can also be used in conjunction with hand making a model. Let's say you have an element with an exceptional level of detail that would be difficult to hand make. You can always resort to using a 3D printer and do the rest of the project by hand.

This approach uses the best of both worlds. The 3D printer can help make some of the more time-consuming tasks a lot easier. But you still get the benefits associated with building a physical model by hand.

Inexpensive to Put Together

One of the great things about making architecture models is that it is extremely affordable compared to the alternatives. Purchasing CAD software is rarely affordable.

On top of that, you will need to purchase an expensive 3D printer if you want to have a tangible representation of your design. In addition to buying the printer, you'll need to get ink for it, which does not come cheap.

Compare all of these costs by making a handmade model. You can use inexpensive materials, such as cardboard and foam board.

Handmade Architectural Models Are Here to Stay

When showcasing a design to potential clients, it's tempting to impress them by using the most advanced CAD technology you can get your hands on. But we think this is a mistake.

When you get back to the basics of architectural model making by hand, you save money. Not only that, but you are also utilizing a design method that uses all of your senses, rather than just your vision.

You get to hold the pieces in your hands as you put your structure together. This gives you insights into your design that you may completely miss if you were using a computer program.

Also, we find that our clients are seldom that impressed by CAD designs. In fact, more often than not, they're confused by what they are seeing.

Using a physical model is a simple and elegant solution. Even a child could understand your design.

If you're starting a project soon and need some assistance, please take a look at the services we offer.

About The Author

Hi, we're the Designblendz team! We blend overlapping design disciplines to raise the standard to design, visualize, and build virtual and physical environments.