Model making is a key facet of any successful architectural programme. People may think that architectural model making only began when the technological revolution gave us the ability to build accurate and exact replicas, but actually architectural model making has a rich tradition stretching back through the ages.
Quite simply, where there has been architecture there has been architectural model making. Building a scale model of a proposed building is one of the best ways to bring a building to life. The main function that an architectural model serves these days is a selling one – an architectural model is presented to a potential financial backer or client. The idea behind a model is to further assist the financial backer or client in understand exactly what the building is intended to offer and will therefore enlighten them further as to whether it may be something they are interested in.
This was the same back in the Grecian and Roman empires – two eras categorised by rapid expansion and grand architecture. Materials cost money, and the architects looking to construct buildings in those days are the same as the architects these days. It is suggested that architectural model making began even before these dominions, but the earliest recorded document relating to architecture comes from the Roman rule in the 1st century AD.
Since that point in time architectural model making has continued to thrive; with the materials used to make it becoming increasingly more hi-tech.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a proponent of architectural model making, and his radical and ingenuous ideas lay the foundation for many of the architectural patterns and theories that are in use today.
Since Da Vinci’s time, and latterly in the 20th century, there has been a shift towards using CAD (Computer Aided Design) in order to construct virtual architectural models to illustrate the features of a building. There are several advantages to this one being that it is much more editable as one can merely change a technological command to change the model as opposed to having to construct a brand new one.
It also saves space, but the main drawback is the lack of ‘real life’ that it presents. Generally CAD is trapped behind a 2D computer screen and as such it can be difficult to present the full picture via CAD.
Architectural model making is a concept with a rich historical tradition, and the fact that it has survived all these years indicates how successful it can be in assisting architects.