Architectural Modelmaking, Design Development, Bespoke Design & Construction. Part of The University of Manchester (SEED School of Environment, Education and Development) Part of the Manchester School of Architecture
Category Archives: BA (Hons) Architecture Years 1-3
In another First Year case study we asked Mahishini Vasudevn to tell us about her recently completed project for the ‘Resolution’ brief:
“For our first project, habitat, I chose Peacock as my animal client so I made a design that would stand proudly and attract the eyes of the people just like the Peacock would do. To portray this, my design had a cantilevered floor which protrudes over the pavement of my site in Charles Street. The facade was designed to have stained glass which had the same colours as the peacock. In my design I have mainly focused on grasping the attention of people instantaneously.
In order to convey the most information about my design, I made a sectional model to give an insight to the structural aspects and the interior detailing of the design like the cantilevered stairs and the circulation around the building.
In the case of materials, for the glass facade I have used coloured acrylic as it best represents the colour and transparency that is implied in my design. As for the columns, beams and floor joists I used Styrene H-columns which were sprayed in black to represent steel frames. The floors were made with MDF wood to replicate the wooden floors. The pathway with granite paving slabs was laser engraved on grey card to show the colour and the small amount of texture that I wanted to show. The interior was done with wood and acrylic. In my model I have tried my best to produce them in such a way that they almost represent the same materials that would be used in reality if it were to be built.
Through making this model I have learnt new techniques of model making. It has taught me more about my design like the structural connections and how a design comes together as I was able to have a 3D view of my design. I’ve learnt how to plan my work and handle time with care.
Model making has been the best experience I’ve had as a first year architecture student and I’ve enjoyed working in the workshop.”
This model is put together with a good selection of materials that help to demonstrate the different component of the design shown in section. Mahishini made good use of pre existing strip materials by choosing styrene H beams to construct what would be the steel frame of her building if made at 1:1. Strip materials such as these are extremely useful in section modelling and we hope to stock a range in the near future. In the mean time they are available from 4D Modelshop where you can also register for a student discount quoting either myself or Jim as your tutor here at Manchester.
First Year Student Estelle Xin Yun Ang has just completed a 1:50 section model of her proposal for the re-purpose of vacant space under a railway arch way. Estelle kindly described her project for us:
“I chose to build a model in which part of the facade was removed to communicate the details of interior spaces and the assembly of structural components. The railway arch was modelled as a section to show how it acts as the ceiling of my design. I modelled the underground and made a window to give a good view into the basement. The facade detail was quite important in order for me to express the sense of gaming, which was why I took the time to paint the tiny offcuts.
The exterior spaces surrounding my design is extensively graffitied which inspired me to design a gaming studio where the potential of play is explored. I incorporated game buttons into the design of the facade to convey my idea of gaming.
To model the context, I decided to use plywood as the texture provides a good representation of the brickwork for the archway. For the ground/base, I used mdf wood and applied wood stain to give a good contrast to the light coloured arch. I spray painted the laser cut mdf in grey to show the concrete floor plates. For the walls I chose to use vac-formed styrene to achieve a permanent curved shape. I added strips of acrylic between the two pieces of styrene to make up the thickness of the wall and that helped save some material.
I overcame the difficulties of modelling the curved shape of my design and I have learned to use different techniques on different materials to achieve the best result. After a few trials and errors I was able to understand the construction of my design. This is what I find interesting because there are so many ways in making a model and through experimentation I get to know which method works best for my design.”
What is clearly shown in this model is the attention to making each element correct for assembly. This patience and consideration is something we should all aspire to when designing and making. Often one of the hardest things to do during a project is accept that something you have made is incorrect and should therefore be re-made. Whilst this may seem like wasted time it is exactly the opposite and by taking a step back from the project to look at what you have learned you will see that such mistakes are necessary for your own understanding of the design as well as gaining a better understanding of material and machine constraints when making.
We hope to see more projects with this level of thought and consideration in the coming weeks leading up to the final submissions and in future first years.
We’ve had a busy few weeks in B.15 with the last week and half dominated by this first year project.
In conjunction with a series of paradigms lectures first year students have been asked to choose a piece of historically significant architecture to replicate and study through multiple means. One of the requirements of this brief has been to produce a section model allowing the observer to view the construction framework and internal layout of the building they are looking at.
The results from this have been very good with groups taking time to consider different aspects of the real constructions and how they might best be represented at scale and within the time frame allowed to produce the model. Materiality was a prime consideration with the most successful examples providing a balance of different materials across the model construction.
Things to Consider: Always Printing Plans
One crucial part of getting these projects started was to get correctly scaled plans printed for reference. A number of groups hadn’t considered this necessary as they had smaller plans and scale rules for conversion. We highly recommend getting at least one printed correctly scaled site plan for reference when producing your models. Without one to hand you will spend a great deal of time referring to cad or wrongly scaled drawings for reference when you could easily be comparing your model components to an accurate plan on your desk .
As part of submissions students also had to produce a pamphlet detailing the key facts about their chosen piece of architecture. This meant taking photographs for their models had a duel use providing images for their pamphlet and their portfolios. Anyone wishing to use the studio space to take photos of their current or past work should drop in and we can advise on availability and help you set up to shoot.
The completed models were then placed together with the other submission requirements in a small exhibition of paradigm studies back at the studio space.
Some great work and valuable lessons learned for all – first years are really pushing the expectations for the next waves of students! Well done everyone – see you for the next project!
MSA Praxis student Paul Thornber produced this ‘rough and ready’ sketch model in just 6 hours and cost him the grand total of Â£0! Made entirely from waste scraps this model clearly conveys the structural arrangement of Pauls project without need for expense or time consuming methods. More importantly the process of planning, marking out and making the model has been a learning experience as Paul describes below:
“I intend to use the model to explore how structural decisions affect spatial conditions. The model was used to help make decisions, in the development stages, regarding structure through experimentation.I was able to economise on structure through building at scale and assembling the model by hand.It also helped me prove that I understood how the buildings structural strategy worked.
Through making this model I have learnt how to form and develop the plan of a building through a process of experimentation in both 2D and 3D. Quickly switching from plan to section to model and back again helped me rapidly develop ideas that worked both on paper and in 3D.
This model gave me an insight into the next stage of model making for the final output of the next project. I will now know what works and what doesn’t before starting a more refined version of this model.”
This is how the medium of modelmaking should be used in my opinion. By employing making as a tool to develop your ideas you are opening up yourself to technical processes, material constraints and lessons that can be directly transferred to your design decisions when working at to 1:1 scale design.
3rd year Coexistence in Theory has been focussing on a stalled site located next to the Mancunian way in Manchester. The group will use this abandoned infrastructure to propose new interventions that will bridge the site bringing in to back into functional use. The group decided to represent a large portion of the Mancunian way which runs through the city along with building massing and defined roadways across the site. This was done by overlaying grey card board pieces to act as raised pavements creating contrast with the light coloured plywood base below which provides the road areas.
The stalled site in question is represented in more detail due to its importance and comparative skeletal appearance to the rest of the buildings in the area. This was made using laser cut ply whilst the main massing of the rest of the model is made us of blocks of pine cut and sanded to shape.
Group member Georgina Erotokritou described why the group are producing the model for their projects:
“It’s the easiest and most understandable way to explain ideas, space and arrangements in 3D space. Because this model covers a wider context it is easier for the viewer to see the entire picture and see how our buildings connect to the site.”Â
The model is now being used as a stage to present the groups ideas as they develop throughout the year.
This project looks at a site sandwiched between exiting buildings and natural boundaries in Stockport centre. As with most of the projects I have seen Fin work on it’s great to see someone using a variety of media on their desk to inform the decisions in making and in turn use the results to influence their ideas.
As the site includes several large tower blocks it was decided to create the masses as hollow boxes to both save on material and weight of the completed model. The box sections seen here were carefully made up from planes of material – most of it scraps from other projects.Â
Once again being concious of material use, Fin designed his contour base to be laser cut into steps with supports as opposed to entire sheets. This again saves material and overall weight. The process requires some minimal extra consideration when producing drawings but the savings are great and well worth the effort. Read more on this method of construction here.
To create the imposing and dominating viaduct feature which spans across the site Fin chose to use a solid mass created from pine. The arches were drawn out and rough cut on the bandsaw before being sanded smooth.Â Legs for the viaduct were created as separate pieces with varied heights depending on their position across the contours. The legs were then clamped and glued over night.
Finbar gave us a few words reflecting on the project so far:
‘The model has helped to negotiate a complicated landscaping condition, in that the envelope links three different levels: water, ground and the 1st floor gardens, of a proposed Waste Water Treatment Plant in Stockport city centre. The context is modelled with traditional craft methods as I feel the site has a great sense of history, including the famousÂ Stockport Viaduct. It has helped to explore sensitive ways of repurposing existing warehouses I used Pepakura software to produce nets of meshes generated in Grasshopper for Rhinoceros, for the initial massing proposals. The next step is to combine the spatial arrangements of the building with environmental analysis and try new massings on the same model.’
The completed model has a removable site section to allow different proposals to be inserted into context. Fin has already made several suggested forms from card as seen below.Â
Be advised that we are experiencing some software issues with our CNC router. This may mean a knock on effect with booked jobs. The issue is ongoing and may not be rectified for the next few days. Please check in with us if you are booked to use the machine. If your project is urgent we recommend checking availability at MMU and FAB Lab Manchester as an alternative.
Apologies for any inconvenience caused. We will post an update when the issue is rectified.
We are very pleased to announce that our own Dr Raymond Lucas will be our chair speaker for ‘Modelmaking in the Digital Age‘ taking place on March 9th. Ray will be introducing and overseeing the converse of our day to help get the insights we all want to get from our fantastic group of visiting speakers.
Dr Lucas has recently been appointed as Head of Architecture in Humanities at the University of Manchester and as such will have a close relationship with our workshop activities in future.
Dr Lucas describes he teaching role as part of Manchester School of Architecture:
I teachÂ in the Manchester School of Architecture in a variety of roles. Â
In the recent past, this has included teaching in studio and coordinating the humanities for the undergraduate BA in Architecture. Â I have worked closely with colleagues across institutions in developing the humanities curriculum, teaching and coordinating the following courses: Architectural History: Epochs; Architectural History: Paradigms; Architecture & Observation/Graphic Anthropology; Agenda Building; World Urbanism. Â Further to this, I have taught in the postgraduate studios Continuity in Architecture and Intimate Cities and supervised a number of postgraduate dissertations.
The teaching ethos of humanities in MSA is important, and involves a close integration of the various humanities disciplines with design studio. Â Humanities in architecture is relevant to the process of design, be that in determining the survey and understanding of a site; understanding the context of a place, typology, practice or material; or as precedents which can inform today’s architectural practice. Â The second part of this teaching ethos is to deliver current research to students as much as possible. Â Whilst maintaining the structure of a foundation in architectural history and theory, it is important to move beyond the classicist surveys of the past and to exploit the wide range of contemporary research being conducted in Manchester School of Architecture both within MARC and our MMU colleagues.
As one of the biggest architectural practices in the world, this presentation from Foster + Partners will add an insight into the ever present use of architectural modelmaking in projects taking place worldwide.
Additional speakers from Foster + Partners will be:
Gregor Anderson, Associate Partner at Foster + Partners and manager of the in-house Rapid Prototyping Facility. Gregor studied at the Royal College Of Art where he focused his research on all forms of digital manufacturing. On graduating, he was a key member in the development of Rapidform, the RCAâ€™s in house additive manufacturing unit. In 2008 he moved to UCL to set up and run The Digital Manufacturing Centre in the Bartlett School of Architecture, before joining Foster + Partners in 2011.
Ed Bartlett, Associate and Modelshop CAD Support Manager at Foster + Partners. Ed joined the practice in 2008 after graduating from the Arts University Bournemouth, where he studied Modelmaking for Design and Media, specialising in computer-aided design. He now heads up a team of CAD specialists within the practice, working on a wide variety of projects around the world.