Sci-Eng50 Exhibition, The Holden Gallery


Last night was the opening of the Sci-Eng50 Exhibition at the Manchester School of art’s Holden Gallery. The exhibition looks at the last 50 years of development around the John Dalton Campus and features a series of great presentation models spanning the period. Displayed alongside the models are a fascinating selection of period photographs, plans and retro items from the Science and Engineering educational environment.


Richard Brooks Exhibition (9)

Over the last few months we have been restoring these models in preparation for the exhibition, part curated by MSA’s Richard Brook. The exhibition will run for the next month and is free to visit so well worth a look! For more information about this project you can visit the Sci-Eng50 Blog by clicking here.

Scott and Jim

Profile: Mirko Avalos Henriquez – Professional Modelmaker in Berlin

Two weeks ago we had an unexpected visit from Mirko Avalos Henriquez- a Professional Modelmaker and Director of Maquette, Berlin who had read about our exhibition online. He was kind enough to write this review and in turn we asked for a description of his experience in Modelmaking for you to read about. Here it is:


Often when I get asked what I do and I say that I am a model maker the response is usually along the lines of ‘oh, you make those cute little houses’. Although this is mostly true, my main role as a model maker involves advising the architect on how best to present their idea through the medium of a model. Architects often know what they want their model to communicate but while they mainly design in ‘real world’ scale or 1:1, they often find it a challenge to visualize their ideas at a much smaller size. In this sense a model maker is not only a skilled craftsman but also a consultant, advising the architect on how best to present the vital information the architect wishes to communicate.

Bauhaus Museum

I have been working as a model maker based in Berlin for the past 7 years and have worked with architects from small yet highly successful buros such as Schultes Frank Architekten and Heike Hanada to larger more reknowned offices including David Chipperfield Architects and Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos. No matter how small or large a firm is, they will at some point need a model, either at the development stage of an idea or to exhibit a finished building as part of an exhibition. These could also be detailed presentation models where an architect may want to present their idea to a panel of investors, or a competition model, where the model will sit alongside 200 other candidates and must quickly communicate not only the overall look of the building or landscape, but also the concept behind the design.


As a model maker, the greatest challenge is knowing what materials, colours and level of detail best represent what the architect is thinking, and how these elements combine to produce a model. To facilitate this process, learning how to use the tools and materials at your disposal is one of the most important components of being a model maker. Knowing what the limitations of a material or the capabilities of a certain machine are is of vital importance, allowing for a quicker way of working as well as a deeper understanding of what can realistically be achieved.


You can find out more about some of the great modelmaking projects Mirko has worked on past and present on his website here.

Fabricate – 1st year Project

1st Year Farbicate (14)

Last week we were very busy dealing with the first real workshop-based project for our new first year students. Their fabricate brief took their initial ideas for an animal habitat a step further to refine the details of design and assembly.

1st Year Farbicate (16)


1st Year Farbicate (8)

Both myself and Jim agree that a major learning curve of this week-long project has to be in time management. Many students found themselves rushing elements of their projects as it had been left too late in the week. As was said during inductions and many times since – please come to see us to discuss how realistic your ideas are for the time frame. If you do this at the earliest possible stage in the process we can help to get the best results with your project and importantly – to get it completed by the deadline! 1st Year Farbicate (7)

1st Year Farbicate (28) 1st Year Farbicate (24)

All in all it was a fun week with many interesting projects making their way in and out of the workshop. Enjoy your trip to Berlin and we’ll see you for your next project when you return!

Scott and Jim

1st Year Farbicate (18) 1st Year Farbicate (20) 1st Year Farbicate (13)

B.15:45 Exhibition Review By Mirko Avalos Henriquez

Mirko Avalos Henriquez, A professional Modelmaker working in Berlin visited our exhibition recently and wrote this review in response.


The B.15:45 Architectural Modelmaking Exhibition at the Manchester school of Architecture offers a glimpse of the types of models used in the design and development of architectural ideas and concepts. The layout of the exhibition takes you on a journey through the various uses a model affords, from initial exploration of shapes, forms, materials and textures to refined and detailed representations of final design solutions.

The exhibition lets one clearly see how the process of using a model as an exploratory tool is in itself a vital component of the overall design process. Much like a sketch book of scribbles on a visual communication course or a book of fabric and colour samples on a fashion design course, the model can be used as a vehicle allowing one to visualise ideas in progress. The curators of the exhibition have organized the models in such a way that it is easy to make out the purpose of the model, through varying scales, materials, level of detail and colour. Technological advances in the production of a model or its component parts is also on show here with clear advantages and disadvantages in using new technologies and media evident in the quality of finish of a model.


We get to see structural details rendered large as well as whole city districts in a scale of 1:1000, suggestions for fantastical underwater prisons and futuristic 3D printing factories where whole buildings can be quickly produced. There are projects that are explained through a highly detailed series of models alongside more abstract explorations in shape and colour. From wood to copper, 3D printed parts to moulded plaster, the models on show cover a range of fascinating materials, production techniques and level of detail.

The art of model making and its use as a vital tool in the design process is presented in detail through lovingly preserved and at times repaired examples of models. Scott and Jim have done a fantastic job of making it easy to navigate this fundamental but often overlooked component to the study of architecture.  The B.15:45 Architectural Modelmaking Exhibition is a must-see not only for those interested in architecture but also for those curious to know what goes into the exploration and development of a design idea and how this creative principle is approached.

Mirko Avalos Henriquez, October 2014

You can find out more about Mirko’s experience in our profile post here.

Models in Use: BBC Coverage of RIBA at Manchester School of Art


Recently the Manchester School of Art’s Benzie Building has been nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2014. The buildling serves as the new main entranceway to Manchester School of art and of course the Architecture studios.

With some interesting coverage and video of the building, this link from the BBC is of particular interest to the subject.

Part way down the page you will find a video interview with Keith Bradley and Tom Jarman of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios who designed the building. They use two models of the site and building to explain their design. Using models to explain design in this way can be really useful to convey your ideas to a group or individual as is clearly seen in the BBC video.

Scott and Jim


First Year Fabricate Projects

1st Year Habitat (8)

Following their recent inductions 1st year students have this week been flooding into the workshop to advance their initial ideas for the animal habitat project. We have been really happy even at this early stage with the response from this year in terms of organisation and good practices when approaching making. Hopefully we can continue this for the rest of the year and beyond to produce some great projects.

1st Year Habitat (7)

Due to the high numbers expected this afternoon and Friday we would recommend that you get in early and consult us on what you need to do before starting. We may advise that you work from home due to the nature of your project as we cannot accommodate more than 20 students at any one time. Please understand this and try to organise your ideas efficiently so we can help as quickly as possible and you can meet your deadlines on time.

1st Year Habitat (3) 1st Year Habitat (4)

B.15:45 Professor Nick Dunn Opening Speech 12th September 2014

As part of our opening night for B.15:45 Professor Nick Dunn kindly gave a short speech about the origins of modelmaking through to present day. For those who don’t know, Professor Dunn is a former student here at Manchester who then went on to teach at MSA and is the author of one of, if not the most successful architectural Modelmaking book to date, ‘Architectural Modelmaking’ which is now in it’s second edition.

His speech was filmed in it’s entirety and you can watch it below:

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