It is often said that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. This is no more true than in the architectural and design world, where it is vital to be able to display technical drawings, designs and proposals in a very visual way. Computer aided design has made great strides in recent years, enabling designs to be prepared in a quicker and more detailed way; storing them safely and securely for long term use and for further projects. Computers can prepare ‘mock-up’ 3-D presentations, allowing the project to be viewed, even simultaneously from all angles. Despite all of this, architectural model making remains the single easiest way to present a new idea to a client, or engineer for further work.
There are many benefits to constructing an architectural model when designing a new structure or building. Human beings, even non-technical people, can easily make quite detailed analyses upon viewing a scale model, ‘in situ’, which can encourage them to make decisions more easily. This can considerably speed up the design or sale process, which allows the whole project to move along faster than would normally be the case with 2-D drawings. If you can imagine the construction process like a story; this story begins to be told immediately upon unveiling of your model, instead of having to go through pages and pages of detailed preamble before beginning the first chapter.
The first ‘chapter’ of any construction ‘story’ or project is the sales process. When persuading the client to accept a proposal, it’s important to be able to point out section views by referring to a scale model rather than trying to explain it in words. When you can see the whole building right in front of you in true 3-D, the client does not need to have any technical knowledge to understand what it will look like on completion. This makes it much easier to explain sometimes very technical aspects of your design; this also makes it much easier for your client to compare your proposal to what he had already visualised when starting the process.
When you can show the client where his money is going to be spent, it is vital he understand in seconds the benefits you can bring to this project. Time, as we all know, is money, and you will have greater success if you can speed up any aspect of a project.
An architectural model is also a very useful item to have when communicating with project managers, engineers and contractors. Potential problems can be seen immediately that could possibly have been missed from just having detail and elevation drawings. The model can be moved around and re-placed to avoid potential obstacles (eg. Gas lines and pipes), thereby quickly testing new aspects without having to, literally, go back to the drawing board. This alone makes the model cost effective, since drawing revisions can be reduced to a minimum, saving time and design man-hours.
Co-ordination between client, architect, engineers, contractors and surveyors is one of the trickier aspects of any design project, and anything which can improve this is of considerable benefit. Also, of benefit is the means to explain a project to town planners in obtaining your building permit.
The benefits of architectural model making do not stop when you’ve finished the project either. The model can be used in future projects and presentations, to showcase the service you can offer to prospective clients at trade exhibitions and exhibits. This gives your company more credibility and professionalism. If you have the good fortune to be involved in a large and prestigious project, and have a model of the design, your company have instant, magnetic drawing power since your client may already know the building. If you can persuade your client to put your model on public display in the foyer of the new building, you have a powerful advertising tool for your company right in the project you have completed.
These days, anything you can do to speed up the design process, save money and make projects easier to understand is of benefit, not only to you, but to everyone involved, and architectural model making remains a powerful weapon in your arsenal. They do cost money to produce, but that money is easily recouped if you utilise your model in an effective manner.
Whether you use it for sales, communication or design, your architectural model will increase your ROI, make projects easier and quicker to move through to completion, and give you more credibility in today’s highly competitive commercial marketplace.