MAKING SCALE Project – Expression of interest

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Project Summary

Launched at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023, The Making Scale project addresses the decline in perceived value of physical modelmaking in architectural design by students and practitioners. It will survey and share the excellence and diversity of approaches of designing-through-making in professional practice as well as teaching and research at MSA.

The B.15 workshop promotes a culture that values skills in making in architectural design. Architecture is a material practice and therefore physical modelling is invaluable in architectural design processes at urban, building and tectonic scales.

The outcome of the Making Scale project will be a compendium of case studies that will be a source of inspiration for students and practitioners as well as an online resource for graduates to identify opportunities where they can continue to employ and develop their modelmaking skills in professional design contexts.

If you would like to receive further information on forthcoming events and/ or you would like to participate in our survey of architectural modelmaking in professional practice please enter you details here.

All information provided is confidential to MAKING SCALE project team and will not be shared with any other parties.

Winter Break Closure dates

Hi All,

Just a quick update about opening times in the next couple of months. 

Unusual closure dates

We will be closed on the afternoon of Friday 24th November for staff training.

For the same reason we will be closed all day on Friday 19th January

Graduation

We will be closed on the afternoon of Tuesday 12th December to attend the winter graduation.

Winter Break

B.15 will close to students on Friday 15th December and reopen on Tuesday 9th January.

See you soon, B.15 Team

B.15 Royal Albert Hall model added to the Hall’s new £1m Archive Collection


Back in 2021 a collaboration between B.15 and the V&A’s research institute aimed to recreate a long lost stage of Royal Albert Hall architectural history.

Dr. Simona Valeriani’s research into the history of the hall had paid particular attention to the role of models which led to the involvement of B.15 model making workshop.

The workshop made a significant unique contribution to the project that has helped researchers better understand the design process behind one of the UK’s most iconic buildings. Records of planning meetings that took place during the Hall’s development made mention of a model being used to inform design decisions. It was assumed this model was lost until 2019 when it was rediscovered in a heavily damaged state in a room at the Hall itself. Efforts were made to restore the piece and subsequently, a replica of the fragment was produced including it’s missing pieces to illustrate part of what might have been

B.15 team interpret the surviving material

B.15 staff took on the task of analysing the fragment in order to replicate the model in a more complete form as it might have appeared in the mid-1800s. This involved the comparison of reference images and original plans. The initial goal was to complete the replica in time for feature in the 2021 Building Centre Exhibition; Shaping Space – Architectural Models Revealed’ which was in part sponsored by the workshop.

Workshop Technical Manager Scott Miller and assistant Saul Parker-Backhouse began the task alongside Manchester School of Architecture students Ruben Greyson and Cezara Mișca to produce a faithful interpretation of the original in time for the exhibition opening.

Workshop Technician Scott Miller said: “It was a pleasure to collaborate on such a prestigious project and a truly insightful experience for me, Saul and our student assistants.

After the conclusion of the exhibition an agreement between the collaborators led to the models being accepted into the newly established Royal Albert Hall archive.

A new home in the hall’s first ever archive space

After years of development by archivist Liz Harper, the first dedicated archive to the hall’s 150 year history was officially opened on Thursday October 12th 2023. We were honoured to be invited to the opening event where the model was presented alongside the original and other items from the hall’s collection. Future plans for the model will see it displayed to the public in one of the hall’s main entrances.

The Making of the Royal Albert Hall Model – Documentary short

To coincide with the opening of the archive we’re pleased to share this documentary short which was produced alongside the project. Featuring narration from Dr Simona Valeriani and B.15 Technical Manager Scott Miller, the film was shot and edited by videographer Chris Jackson in 2022.

The RAH archive can be searched online and contacts to arrange to visit in person can be found here: https://catalogue.royalalberthall.com/ More information about the Architectural Models Network here: https://archmodelsnetwork.com

More information about Dr. Simona Valeriani: https://www.rca.ac.uk/more/staff/dr-simona-valeriani/  and the V&A Research Institute: https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/the-va-research-institute-vari


Thank you to Dr. Simona Valeriani for inviting B.15 to take part in this project and to Liz Harper for ensuring the model found a permanent home in the RAH collections.

B.15 Top picks from the Biennale Architecttura 2023 – The Laboratory of the Future

Back in June we hosted a symposium called MAKING SCALE as part of Venice Biennale Sessions. Outside of the event we were able to view the full exhibitions across the two main sites at the Giardini and the Arsenale. Reflecting on our time there the workshop staff have each picked their favourite display and summarised their thoughts on it below. If you have chance to catch it before it closes in late November let us know your thoughts! – Scott, Lara & Sarah

Scott’s pick:

Renewal: A Symbiotic Narrative – Peoples Republic of China 

La Biennale di Venezia – Arsenale  

I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit the Biennale several times in the last 10 years. With varied themes to explore each year across the various exhibits. I’m primarily looking out for presentation techniques and of course, anything that makes use of models to convey a message. The space occupied by the Peoples Republic of China at the Biennale’s Arsenale site has often presented a challenge for its curators in terms of its sheer scale. The display occupies one of the largest single spaces across the two main sites meaning it’s contents either have to match that in terms of the chosen artefacts or, using creative display mediums which effectively fill the space. I’ve chosen this as this year’s standout exhibit from a display point of view.  

The exhibit uses a common language of materials throughout which clearly identify the contents as part of the same focus topic. Exploring the theme of laboratories and experimentation, the curators chose a range of case studies from across China that have in some way informed improved liveability in high-density built environments across the country. Quoting from the exhibition catalogue, “more than forty scroll-like columns […] generate the experience of being in a metropolis” (Xing, 2023).  

Within each of these columns’ visitors can view a model of a site study that is supported by context information and imagery that steps forward through time as the density of urban areas increases. 

At the far end of the rows of columns the curators placed a mirror wall which adds to the feeling of density of depth to the already huge space. The floor is also mirrored and features the year-by-year chronology of the exhibits. The columns themselves are internally lit with a frosted finish in light red and white. This theme is continued in the models themselves which always stick to this colour pallet. Materials used are primarily frosted acrylic which has been laser-cut, combined in some cases with resin 3D printed elements to match the light red/pink hues that occur throughout. Model scales vary depending on the subject site being presented. 

 

I find this consistency in language very effective when it comes to subconsciously linking different pieces together. This is something I encourage our students to consider when producing sets of models, keeping in mind the broader style choices of their project presentation.  

Overall, I feel this exhibit is neatly put together and the simple consistency of its contents help to make a huge space feel sufficiently populated with what are actually quite small exhibits. 

 

Xing. R (May 2023) Renewal: A Symbiotic Narrative (P27), Biennale Architettura 2023 The Laboratory of the Future Participating Countries & Collateral Events, La Biennale Di Venezia 


Sarah’s Pick:

Not for Sale!! – Canada 

La Biennale di Venezia – National Pavilions Giardini   

This was my first trip to the Venice Biennale and initially what struck me was the vast range of work on offer. Across the exhibitions there were so many varied techniques including textiles, model making and film all with the aim of getting their personal view/ message across. The scale of the event also took me by surprise as I was unaware of the vast expanse the biennial had across the city.  Some highlights include, Switzerland’s pavilion ‘Neighbours’, which featured a giant carpet which explored the themes of proximity and relationships between the pavilions themselves. As well as Chinas pavilion which featured a large collection of rose prink models that showcased different ways the ever growing population could utilise space in city’s.  

However, my personal favourite exhibition and the one I’ve chosen to discuss is Canadas pavilion ‘Not for sale!!’. One thing that really stuck out to me was the consistency throughout the pavilion and how they’d chosen to present the work. The site models themselves looked like a miniature version of how they had adapted the building.  

Exterior of the Canada Pavilion 2023. Image Source: https://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/2023/canada

The exhibition comments on the changing and growing gap between housing that is causing a classist urban environment, where the richest in society benefit from gaining more properties and the poorest are left in a bad living conditions with extortionate rent prices making their access to the housing ladder almost impossible. I found this angle interesting as ‘Architecture’ is the source of the problem but it can also be the solution. I took away from the exhibition the injustice that people who already have money can freely put it into more property getting richer and richer whilst doing no work, whereas people grafting daily are in a situation where a decent home feels like a luxury. An imbalance that is prevalent in much of the western world, inclusive of the UK. I felt the topic they had chosen to explore was relevant and the models used to convey the issue pushed the message by using clear visuals. 

The pavilion itself had been adapted to suite the theme, being made to look like a rundown building from the outside, with boarded up panels and graffiti to represent visually some of the homes people are being forced to live in because of the housing crisis. ‘Not for sale!!’ was not only an exhibition held at the pavilions in Venice but also a live campaign to end the housing crisis. The pavilion acted as the headquarters, connecting activists and architects in one space, all with the aim to improve housing accessibility. The inside of the pavilion reflected this giving the impression of somewhere a revolution could be started. The space felt like a cabin, almost as though you were outside on the side of a protest. The models were simple, but brightly coloured so you could identify different areas and featured giant speech bubbles gave them an almost ‘pop-art’ Andy Warhol feel.  

Inside the Canada Pavilion. Image source: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/fzecp/canada-pavilion-explores-tangible-forms-of-housing-crisis-at-venice-architecture-biennale.html

Many of the visuals including the models, posters and leaflets had recognisable visual such as a ‘Raised fist’ synonyms for the Black Power Movement, re-designed into a more modern style. Overall, the themes throughout the pavilion effectively strongly showcased the messages of ‘change now’ and ‘action needed’. The models were made from card and paper which to me reinforced the idea of limited resources and looked as though they had been made with solely hand-crafted techniques. This style of making is something I will encourage students to take forward within their own work as it is showcased clearly that simple techniques and shapes can create great results. The neon colours gave all the models a strong visual language that was carried through the space. I really enjoyed the incorporation of words and questions within the site models and the interpretation that models are not just a representation of something that is proposed and will happen, but instead they can be something used to inspire a better future. They featured questions about how we could readapt and make spaces around us more accessible, making you reflect on how we use and create places for example, ‘What if we, were outdoors more? With safe spaces for children?’ 

Overall, the movement & exhibition was positive, bringing together people to push social mobility within housing. The models used represented the change that people part of the agenda wanted to see and the whole space was utilised well. 


Lara’s Pick:

‘Emotional Heritage’ – Flores & Prats Architects
As part of ‘Dangerous Liasons’ for ‘The Laboratory of the future’ curated by Lesley Lokko 

La Biennale di Venezia – Le Corderie dell’Arsenale 

I was fortunate enough to visit the Biennale for the first time this year. The Venice Biennale is an international cultural exhibition hosted by the Biennale Foundation in Venice, Italy. There were many exhibits in various locations around Venice to see and explore, all linked to themes around architecture. I was particularly interested in seeing how models were used internationally by architectural practices and how these were displayed. I found the site at le Corderie dell’Arsenale particularly interesting with its selection of architectural practices and design studios in ‘Dangerous Liasons.’ An exhibit that stood out to me most in the collection was Flores & Prats Architects ‘Emotional Heritage.’  

As soon as you walk into the exhibition, you are met with a busy room full of drawings, photos, films and models of varying details, scales, and purposes. On the tables and installations around the room they introduce six of the projects that the practice has been involved in. All of these projects showcase an ‘Emotional Heritage’ approach of the practice through interventions into existing buildings and the memories held inside. 

Parts of the exhibit are presented as if the project is a work in progress, allowing visitors to experience the inner workings of the design process leading up to a finished product. This fits very well within the curator’s overall themes of laboratories, imagination, and experimentation. The themes run throughout the exhibit, creating an atmosphere as if you were inside their Barcelona studio. They demonstrate a variety of model types including presentation, sectional and sketch models displayed on stands and in bespoke display containers. They also showcase animations of using models in an interactive way to explore the narratives that shape their final products.  

The exhibit demonstrates a variety of materials and processes, although predominantly they have chosen to use handmade processes to explore design ideas. It is interesting because the use of digital fabrication machines is often the first thought of students wanting to make models, but here is a demonstration of a practice showing that this is not a necessity. I often encourage students to consider both digital and manual fabrication methods depending on what they are trying to communicate whilst considering material, cost, and time. This is an architectural practice that uses modelmaking throughout the design process and showcasing this opens it up for discussion. 

A particular favourite model of mine in this exhibit is the model of the exhibit itself. I love all the small, intricate details and how it was used as a tool to help inform the design of space for the exhibit. Even after the exhibit is erected, it still offers value through the capture of a moment in time which very much relates to the practices approach of memories within a building for ‘Emotional Heritage.’ 

Overall, I feel this exhibit offers a great insight into how Flores & Prats Architects use models, drawing and film to create discussion between visitors, clients and builders of their architectural designs. They very much use model making as a tool throughout the design process to explore and develop ideas before coming up with the final design. 


 

Welcome to 2023/24 at B.15

Hello all and welcome to another academic year at B.15 in MSA.

Hope you’ve all had a relaxing summer. Here are a few updates for this academic year for you:

New Staff Member

Please join us in welcoming Teagan Dorsch to the team. We’ll be doing a short feature on Teagans experience via our Instagram feed soon. Teagan will be leading on CNC related requests as well as covering all areas like the rest of the team. 

Newly refurbished workshop space

Throughout the summer we have been very busy with yet more building works to improve, refurbish and expand the workshop space. 

In short, all staff only equipment is now located in a separate workspace thus meaning more space for student projects. We have a newly configured machine space with new custom made efficient dust extraction system.

The CNC machine is now contained within an enclosed sound proofed area to reduce noise when it’s in operation. 

There is now a dedicated recycled materials space to allow for increased and more organised use of recycled materials wherever possible. 

Upgraded model archive/store

Our model archive and current projects store has had a make-over with the addition of a full length window. This now allows the collection to be viewed any time and provides additional inspiration throughout the year when passing between B.15 and B.12. 

Welcome video

For those of you unfamiliar with where we are you check out our brief introduction video below for a brief introduction of who we are and where you can find us.

New Starter Inductions 

New starter inductions will be taking place on the following dates with more catch-up sessions to be confirmed in the coming weeks. If you are scheduled to attend please turn up on time to avoid missing out. 

BA 1 – Tuesday 26th September

MArch (Session 1) – Wednesday 4th October

MA A+AR – Thursday 5th October

MA Landscape – Tuesday 10th October

BA1 Catch-up – Tuesday 10th October

MArch (Session 2) – Wednesday 11th October

MA A+U – Friday 13th October

Access around these times will be limited so please get in touch if you have specific requirements this early on. The workshop will be open for uninterrupted general use from 16th October.

General users guide

You should all have received the latest general users guide by email but you can also find it here for reference.


We look forward to see some familiar faces and meet plenty of new ones in the coming weeks! – Scott, Lara, Sarah and Teagan 

MAKING SCALE Symposium – Full Presentation Film

We’re pleased to finally share the full recording of MAKING SCALE symposium which took place on June 29th at the Venice Biennale.

Filmed and edited by Sarah Carroll & Lara Gerrard. 

Thank you to all who supported, presented at and attended the event. We appreciate everyones participation and continued interest in this subject that drives us year on year here at B.15 and MSA.

B.15 and Collaborators

MAKING SCALE Symposium Summary – Venice Biennale 2023

On June 29th we arrived at the Venice Biennale along with a group of MSA students, graduates and practicing professionals to present MAKING SCALE Symposium.

The event began with an introduction from Dr Matthew Wells about the longstanding presence of model making in the architectural field. Following on, Myself and Matt Ault presented our new research project aimed at creating a clearer path for architecture graduates wanting to make use of their model making skills in professional practice.

To help illustrate our points about the wide array of practice and making types our two guest speakers were brought together for an up to date insight into their work.

We began with Peter Lee, Associate at HENN, Berlin who gave a wide ranging explanation of the practice and the various ways model making in integrated and relates directly to his work. This was followed by a pre-recorded presentation by Takeshi Hayatsu, Director of Hayatsu Architects, London. Takeshi gave us an insight into how, as a child, making models influenced his interest in construction and design eventually leading to his work as an architect and the continued use of models as a means of thinking in his work.

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances Takeshi was unable to join us on the day and conducted his presentation remotely. This didn’t detract for the fantastic content presented by both parties which gave two distinctively varied views on the application of modelmaking in architectural practice today.

The presentations were closed with a Q & A discussion where we were joined remotely by Takeshi. The full recoded event will be made available in the coming weeks here on our blog so please look out for that. In the meantime please see the short summary video below outlining the day in brief.

Thank you to all who supported and attended the event. We appreciate everyones participation and continued interest in this subject that drives us year on year here at B.15 and MSA.

B.15 and Collaborators

B.15 Summer 2023 Opening Times

Hi All,

The workshop is again undergoing building works this summer to help us improve our space for you. Unfortunately this does mean there will be some restricted areas whilst this work takes place. The main B.15 space will not be accessible until September due to the main building works taking place there.

We have relocated a laser cutter and the majority of small equipment to the B.12 space which will be accessible to those courses that are still running throughout July, August and September. We do however also need a break! As such we ask that you email us all ahead to check when we will be around to allow access to the space. Get in touch with your requirements and we’ll let you know what your options are for that week.

scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk

Lara.gerrard@manchester.ac.uk

sarah.carroll@manchester.ac.uk

IMPORTANT! If you are attending the B.12 space please access it via the disabled access route in the corridor to the right at the bottom of the stairs. The main workshop corridor is a building site so do not attempt to access the room that way.

We look forward to showing you all the new changes later in the year when the fun starts again!

B.15 Team

MAKING SCALE Symposium Final Update

Hi All,

We can now confirm MAKING SCALE symposium will take place at 11.30 on Thursday June 29th at the Central Pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale site. The event is free to anyone with a Biennale pass so feel free to join us if you are in the area.

For those of you who secured tickets through us you will be able to collect them from us at 10.15 near the Giardini Vaparetto stop A/B.

We look forward to seeing you there, Safe travels

B.15 & Collaborators

B.15 Modelmaking Awards Sponsored by Stanton Williams – Winners!

Huge congratulations to this years award winners!

There were so many great projects across all submissions that made shortlisting very difficult and choosing 4 winners even harder for our judges, Modelmakers Stephen Setford and Maz Weineck of Stanton Williams Architects.

Thank you to the judges for their support throughout and to everyone for taking part in this scheme for another fantastic year of modelmaking work!

Have a look at the fantastic submissions in full here. 

Best of luck in your next steps and keep in touch!

B.15 and Collaborators


The winners in no particular order were:

Oliver Le Marquand & Elliott Taylor – MArch2 CIA

Rachel Price & Norzafeera Marzukee – MArch2 SKN

Cheuk Yu Lauren Fung – MArch2 MAKING

Laura-Elena Popa – BA3 SKN