Guest Lecture: Dr Dawn Pereira – Concrete Too is Beautiful….

To give it it’s full title, ‘Concrete Too is Beautiful; How William Mitchell’s Casting Process Humanised Post-war Urban Landscapes’ will be presented by Dr Dawn Pereira next Monday, April 12th at 17.00.

The lecture will look at the fascinating abstract work of designer/sculptor William Mitchell (1925 – 2020) who is known, although certainly not well enough, for his use of concrete casting around infrastructure, in architecture and as public artworks in the UK and beyond.

Dr Dawn Pereira is an expert on Mitchells works and will tell the story of his origins, evolution and crafting process. The lecture will be followed by an open Q & A.

This lecture is part of the ‘B.15 Moulding and Casting 101’ course but is free and open to all.

Please join us here on Zoom at 17.00 on Monday April 12th.

Note that the lecture will be recorded.

Image of Leigh Turnpike Centre provided by Richard Brook.

Easter Break 2021: ‘B.15 Moulding and Casting 101’ Short-course

*******************THIS COURSE IS NOW FULLY SUBSCRIBED***************************

Dear MSA Students

We’re pleased to bring to you an open-ended short course in moulding and casting basics. This course is designed to let you take part in the process of basic relief casting over 3 practical stages from home, and in person at B.15 when safe to do so.

Due to the current restrictions and widespread locations of you all we are offering the course in a blended format, part remotely and part completed in person when circumstances allow. With this in mind we are asking those who are interested to fill out their details to apply to take part.

The course will start on 12th April 2021 with an introduction and guest lecture followed by a series of drop-in sessions. These will include a CPD with Jesmonite, zoom drop-in’s and pre-booked controlled workshop access either during the two week course delivery time or later when you are able to be in the city.

Students will learn how to carry out the following: 

  • Design a relief form suitable for block-moulding using silicone. 
  • Design formwork for a one-use block-mould using greyboard.  
  • Mix and pour Silicone.  
  • Mix and pour a casting medium (Plaster, Jesmonite, Concrete or all 3). 

The course is open to MSA BA, MArch and MA A+U Students and is limited in capacity so sign up soon to avoid disappointment.

*******************THIS COURSE IS NOW FULLY SUBSCRIBED***************************

The course is free although some materials/tool purchases may be required for home working, individual circumstance pending. Full details will be provided after your application is complete.

Your application will be reviewed and if necessary we’ll be in touch to clarify your situation before offering you a place.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Scott & Saul

Upcoming Easter Break Opening Times

Hi all,

Just a quick message about opening times in the coming weeks. B.15 will be open for booked access until March 31st.

There will be no access between 1st and 11th April when the workshop will be closed.

Controlled access will resume from April 12th where all access will take place via the tutorial request process as has become the norm this year.

Look forward to hearing from you soon, Scott & Saul



‘Why Do We Make Models?’ Provocations 12 with Liz Hallam and Roz Barr

****** Update: The full presentations/discussion can be viewed online here – Look for Provocation 12 on the video feed: ******
Scott will be joining the discussion for MSA Provocations 12 on March 18th 2021. Full release below:
Provocation 12 : 
Why Do We Make Models?
Scott Miller of the B.15 Modelmaking Workshop and Ray Lucas (Head of Humanities) will be co-discussants, framing a discussion between our two speakers:
​​Liz Hallam is Associate Professor in Visual, Material & Museum Anthropology and Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford. Hallam’s work focuses on the anthropology of the body and three-dimensional models, especially in medical education.
Hallam’s work examines three-dimensional models of human anatomy, c.1850 to the present, especially in terms of their design, making and use in medical education. This focuses on the social relations of models, their changing materials and forms, how they are created and disseminated, and the kinds of knowledge they generate. I have explored some these of issues as a guest curator of the exhibition Designing Bodies: Models of Human Anatomy from 1945 to Now, at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (2015-16, funded by the RCS and the Henry Moore Foundation), and in a co-edited book Medical Museums: Past, Present, Future (with Sam Alberti), which brings together work by curators, researchers, and photographers in Europe and the USA.
Roz Barr is Director and founder of Roz Barr Architects, a London based architectural studio with a commitment to the careful crafting of architectural solutions through a process of making. We are dedicated to producing high-quality and inventive designs – not as a means of producing architectural ‘statements’ as such, but through a belief that the ability to produce innovative and beautiful work emerges from the interplay between content, context, and a sensitivity towards client requirements.
An in-house workshop allows us to create hand crafted models and other three dimensional material throughout the design process to explore our design ambition and demonstrate our thinking. We are a design-led practice, and we enjoy this process – a fact that is conveyed in the rigorous level of detail and research invested in all of our projects.
​Our two discussants are:
Scott Miller is a technician at the B.15 Modelmaking Workshop at MSA. He has worked as a freelance modelmaker on architectural, commercial and display models and in exhibition design & construction. Miller’s interests lie in the preservation, theory and promotion of modelmaking in design education. 
Ray Lucas is Head of Humanities at MSA and is interested in the means by which architectural knowledge is produced; whilst most of this research is into architectural drawing, he is working on a chapter for Liz Hallam’s forthcoming book 3D Modelling with Scott Miller & Jim Backhouse as co-authors.
As always, we shall convene between 17.15 and 18.30 on Thursday evening. 
Recordings of past Provocations are available at:
We look forward to seeing you there.
Kindest regards,
The Provocations team
****** Update: The full presentations/discussion can be viewed online here – Look for Provocation 12 on the video feed: ******

B.15 Access Update

Hi All,

We please to relay that we are now in a position to allow MSA Students who have projects that require specific use of the workshop, in-person access to B.15 from Monday 15th March.

As before all students wanting to make a model should get in touch to discuss their requirements via the tutorial request form. You will then be allocated a time slot to talk through your ideas and only if required, a time to attend the workshop.

Covid-safe precautions are in place and the agreed procedures mean that only those with specific need can access the space with consent of the technical staff.

For all students in Manchester or elsewhere, the conversation starts here so please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help you out whatever your circumstances are!

Hope to hear from you soon, Scott & Saul

Submit your questions for Artist David Umemoto

We’re excited to present an opportunity to put your questions to concrete casting artist David Umemoto for a pre-recorded video interview to be released via our blog exclusively for MSA staff and students.

David’s work immediately draws our mind to brutalist architecture of the 20th century but it goes much further taking inspiration from ancient cave dwellings, monuments and the changing forms of space represented through both positive and negative volume. How are these forms developed, where does he start with a project and in turn creating such complex formwork for casting? Whatever you’re curiosity about this work, be it the process or inspiration, David has kindly agreed to take some time to answer your questions in a pre-recorded interview.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to understand more about this captivating form of spatial representation. You can find more of David’s work on his website here and via his Instagram account here.

Submit your questions here by the end of Friday March 12th.

These will then be delivered in a privately recorded video interview before being made available to staff and students on our blog soon after.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Scott and Saul

Guest Lecture: Ellie Sampson – Paper and Patience: Modelmaking at Home and in Practice

In the very strange COVID world we find ourselves, the need to keep a balanced life is essential for wellbeing. One way that we of course fully support is to turn some of your design work away from the wormhole of screen based life to engage in some practical learning by making, quite literally with the human touch.

As a continuation of our B.15:50 events that should have taken place last year we’re pleased to welcome Ellie Sampson to MSA to discuss her work as an in independent paper modelmaker and her role as modelmaker/workshop manager at Haworth Tompkins Architects. Ellie’s work has become well known across social media with examples appearing across all platforms with their familiar, hand-crafted colourful styling.

The event was open to all and took place on February 1st at 17.15 via Zoom.

Thanks to all who were able to join us to see more of Ellie’s work and hear about the methodology for this eye catching modelling style followed by an open Q & A. The recorded event is now available below for those who missed it or couldn’t make the full session.

Video 1: Main Presentation by Ellie Sampson

Video 2: Q & A with Ellie Sampson


2021 Update – Request Your Remote Tutorials!

Happy New Year to everyone and here’s to a much better one than that last!

Unfortunately once again we’re in a lockdown situation and have been forced to stop all in person access to B.15 for the next few weeks/months as guidance allows.

This is of course not ideal but as was proved last year with your fantastic efforts, if you want to apply modelmaking to your design development and presentation work at MSA there is absolutely a way and we’re here to support you in any way we can whatever your individual circumstance.

Please use this form to get in touch and request a tutorial.

We’re here to help you make the best of this difficult situation and look forward to discussing your projects whenever you’re ready to get going.

Stay safe, Scott & Saul

Welcome to 2020/21 at B.15

Hello all and welcome to an unusual new year at MSA/B.15!

We hope you’re all keeping well and looking after yourselves wherever you are in the world. Back in March I’m not sure anybody could have predicted the situation we find ourselves in now but here we are. So what’s new for this year?

Socially distanced work spaces in B.15


General Access & Tutorial Process

Due to the restrictions on everybody right now there are a number of changes to how you can access our time and the resource on campus. We’re still working on the best method to make this work but the general principle for starting work will be as follows.

When the time comes that you want to start making a model for your project and you’d like some advice these are the steps that you’ll need to follow:

  1. Request a remote tutorial. This is currently done via this form but we are looking at changing this in the near future.
  2. After you are allocated a tutorial slot we will discuss your project ideas and determine if you need workshop access. If not we can continue to support you through further catch-up tutorials as requested.
  3. If you do need to attend the workshop you will be directed to a video induction or two depending on your year group and if you are a returning student or new.
  4. You will be allocated a date and time to attend the workshop to carry out your modelmaking tasks.
  5. Further discussion or workshop time should be agreed remotely via email or video conferencing when additional times will be allocated as required.

Procedural changes that must be followed are explained in detail as part of the induction videos that you will be directed to.

Workshop access is strictly by appointment only to reduce social contact. You will not be allowed to enter or discuss projects with staff if you have not followed the above procedure to gain access.

Modelmaking at home

When the lockdown first came into force many people thought it meant an end to modelmaking for everyone. The thought never occurred to us and we set out to prove that if you want to use models in your work, no matter what your circumstance, we’re here to help guide you to the best result we can whatever your circumstance.

Remember that we don’t engage in the act of modelmaking exclusively for the interaction with machines, tools or equipment. We make models to explore our ideas in physical form and communicate the results. With that in mind you should have no reason to stop making. It’s often very surprising what can be achieved using whatever you have to hand. I will be sharing a step by step guide soon showing how I made a facade model from soft modelling materials all from the comfort of my home dining table.

First years – Look out for a message from your head of year for your scalpel inductions! Following that you will be receiving tool kits to get you started over the coming weeks and we’ll be happy to help you get going with your projects when we meet you in your first tutorials.

If you missed my intro video in induction week you can have a watch here:


If you want to see what can be achieved just look at the fantastic submissions that were put forward for the B.15 AT HOME awards back in June.

Isobel Currie 1:100 site model entirely home made

Saul, Jim and Scott on Jim’s Last Day at B.15

Staffing changes

Some of you may have seen via our social media that Jim Backhouse has decided to take a well deserved change of pace and has left as manager after 25 years! The fun that we’ve had over the years here is impossible to measure and it’s going to be very strange without Jim around. We miss you already Jim.

That leaves me (Scott) and Saul to assist with your modelmaking needs for the foreseeable future which we’ll be making every effort to support.

Over at MMU there is also new Tech+ team member Peter Powell who will be assisting with some of your studio projects.

Without a doubt things are going to take some getting used to but we want to assure you that we’re here to support you with as much modelmaking support as we can offer.

Can’t wait to meet/carry on working with you all again.

Welcome back!

Scott & Saul


Following a great discussion from the judges and the winners presentation on June 26th we are excited to share the winning projects from the B.15 AT HOME Awards 2020. Click on the students name to view their submissions in full.

ALICIA DESMAY-HERNANDEZ – BA3 Continuity in Architecture


ISOBEL CURRIE – BA3 Continuity in Architecture 

LORNA LOVATT – MArch Y6 Urban Spatial Experimentation


A huge thank you again to our collaborators Peter Lee & Oliver Koch at HENN Berlin, Kristin Mishra & Kaia Williams at SimpsonHaugh Manchester and Artemis Antonopoulou & Phillipa Seagrave at Bjarke Ingels Group Copenhagen.

We can’t stress enough how great the submissions have been under such unusual circumstances and we’d like to congratulate everybody who submitted work. You should all be very proud of your efforts.

The full submissions document can be viewed or downloaded here.


And don’t forget the full MSA Degree show will be online for the next year displaying the full range of work from across the school.

Stay safe and look after yourselves. Hope to catch up in person soon,

Jim, Scott & Saul @B15WORKSHOP