Modelmaking above Alexanderplatz – Peter Lee at HENN Architects, Berlin

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Earlier this summer I visited MSA Graduate Peter Lee at HENN Architects Berlin Office. Located overlooking Alexanderplatz, HENN is an international architecture office with additional offices in Munich and Beijing. They have a wide-ranging experience in work space, culture, health, education and research as well as production and master planning. It’s a great pleasure to see graduates take their modelmaking skills into practice. Where possible I always try to take the opportunities to learn just how these skills are used in their work and this has been one such occasion. Peter has been kind enough to discuss his experience over the last 3 years in practice since graduating from MSA.


After graduating from my masters in 2016 I wanted a bit of a change from Manchester so started applying for jobs in cities that I wanted to live in, mostly abroad, and HENN was the first place that got back to me. The job description was particularly interesting in that it was a mostly model making role within the design / competition team, which suited my skill set pretty well.

On a day to day basis I produce a lot of sketch models, mostly for internal use which really helps with making design decisions. Because of the fast pace of competitions (they generally last a month or two), people are often jumping between projects. Having a model in front of you is a much easier way of understanding site conditions, massings and contextual relationships than working purely with software because it has this tangible quality. 

The workshop has a laser cutter, spray booth, hot wire cutters, disc sander, sandblasting cabinet and Ultimaker S5 3D Printer. Mostly we work with foam, card and acrylic – occasionally we get things outsourced or made in the HENN Munich office, which has more machines available for woodwork.

In terms of setup it’s a lot more restricted than what the students have access to at B.15 which is mainly due to spatial constraints. The office is located in a 70s East Berlin tower and there isn’t enough space for more equipment -however, it’s more than sufficient for producing competition / presentation models. It also serves a different purpose as a workshop for a commercial practice – B.15 is more about giving students the opportunity to learn and therefore supports a wider variety of techniques and materials that aren’t necessarily appropriate or efficient for me to use.

Most of my time is spent on massing and context models but it really depends on what is important to the project – it could also be façade models, mock-ups of internal spaces, more conceptual pieces etc.

Around two years ago I produced a sketch model for an office tower competition in Hamburg which we went on to win. The massing was derived by cutting out foam slabs and arranging them to generate a stepping double height void moving up the lower part of the building. When placed in the context model and compared with other designs it was clear that it was the right way forward – while it was more conservative than some options it fulfilled all the masterplan requirements while retaining an interesting spatial logic.

The competition was also a different format from usual in that we had a lot of contact with the client / developer during the design process. People always love it when you turn up with a model, especially if it’s not required – in this case we brought a lot of sketch models which gave an insight into the design process that the client wouldn’t normally see. It’s also more interesting to have something more tactile in front of you instead of being sat in front of slides and slides of presentation, which definitely worked in our favour.

Leading practices at the moment like Morris and Co, Carmody Groarke are really pushing the use of models as an important design tool and it would be good to see that trickle down into the majority of practices. I have had two architectural jobs before this one – the only time models were around was for presentations and they were always built by a specialist model maker. Software is all well and good but I feel you can always make better design decisions if you have a physical representation in front of you.

If I could change anything about my work on a personal level it would be to be a bit more poetic with my model making through abstract / conceptual models and material explorations – most of what I do at the moment is pretty representational. Having said that, I really enjoy my job here. It can be long hours from time to time but it often feels like an extension of architecture school due to the quick nature of competitions and room to experiment. It’s also good to see models being used as a design tool and being able to use my skills to collaborate with other specialists, such as computational designers.


Thank you to HENN for allowing us to share this insight and to Peter for his thoughts, time and continued enthusiasm towards the work we do here in B.15.

– Scott

Peter at work in on his MArch final major project B.15 Workshop in May 2016

SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Workshop 2019 – Shortlist

This year we have received a record 65 applications for the SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Awards across the BA3 and MArch cohorts of MSA. The quality of these applications has been of a high standard making the collective task extremely difficult to whittle down the number to a shortlist of 8 for BA3 and 8 for MArch.

We want to congratulate everybody who submitted this year making this a difficult process for all involved. The quality of the work overall has been fantastic and helps make this years show a great success.

In no particular order the shortlsited candidates are:

BA 

Callum Richardson

Cameron Frame

Emily Edwards

Faizal Akalwaya

Hayley Sheldon

Harry Tate

Max King

Ana Mayte Alvarado

 MArch

Courtnay Ives & Yiting Zhou

Sean Martin

Maciej Augustynowicz

Nicholas Royce

Sandhya Parekh

Charlotte Hagerty

Lobna Elagouz

Andrew Chung

View the submissions that made the shortlist here:

BA Shortlist 2019

MArch Shortlist 2019

Final judging will take place tomorrow and the winners will be announced at 18.00 approx during the private view.

Best of luck to all and thank you all for getting involved and making this awards scheme such a great success,

Scott, Jim & Saul @B15workshop

Submit your projects for the SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Awards 2019

Submissions for the SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking awards are now open. This year all submissions are required as a PDF document as detailed below.

Remember that the awards are open to MSA’s BA 3rd year and both 5th and 6th year of MArch. There are 3 prizes for BA and 3 prizes for MArch.

As the awards are judged on overall use of modelmaking as well as stand alone projects we recommend taking time to refine your submission so take your time including as few or many project models as you wish. Featured projects will need to be visible at the exhibition on the afternoon of June 7th even if only place there for that time.

Shortlisted projects will be announced on June 6th before being judged by representatives of B.15, MSA and SimpsonHaugh on Friday June 7th where the winners will also be announced.


Submission Criteria:

  • Maximum 350 Words in the main body of text explaining:
    a) Your project brief, its location and purpose
    b) Your use of modelmaking, scale, material and processes that you have used and why.
  • Text should be in Effra Font (file included if you don’t have it on your computer) Size 10
  • Place 3 to 6 images of your modelmaking work (over the 2 pages) in its completed state these can include process images.
  • Each image should be titled appropriately as shown in the example page layout.
  • 2 x separate A4 pages only
  • Saved as a 2 Page PDF

The submission InDesign template (preset basic format for your submission), Effra Font and past example submission can be downloaded here as a ZIP Document.

Please send completed PDF files to scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk no later than 18.00 on Friday 31st May.

Best of Luck,

Jim, Scott and Saul

MA Architecture + Urbanism ‘Undoing Urbanism’ Masterplan Model

A recent modelmaking project from MSA’s MA Architecture + Urbanism course has gained media coverage in recent weeks. The Northern Quarter masterplan has taken centre stage in the window of Fred Aldous craft store. So what’s the story behind this huge eye catching display? Student Dorcas Agbana kindly explained the project:

We initially had a measured drawing of Northern Quarter but the scale on paper didn’t help us understand the context to its full extent. For part of our project a public consultation was scheduled at the Craft Centre and a model seemed like the best way to translate design to “reality” for the studio group and to the public.

We’ve learnt that physical objects are easier to grasp by laymen over technical architectural jargon and so this 3D manifestation seemed like the best way to explain our design process and showcase how our many ideas interlinked.

Concept art showing the model featured in Fred Aldous window display

 

Working in the studio space, the model was used to get a better understanding of scale (context and individual buildings), to figure out scope of the groups design interventions. It allowed us to plug in ideas to see how they worked, how we could link different concepts into one narrative and to holistically figure out new transport routes and better identify pockets of relief.

Initially, around 20-30 members broke the whole model into smaller zones to execute it. It took around a 5 day week to get the initial model done. And then around 10 – 15 students worked for another week to prepare it for public display in Fred Aldous shop front.

 

Since the display was completed the feedback has been positive. We have observed people pause and stare, we’ve gotten comments on how to better design it for the public to understand. People who have seen and read the articles and the brochure on the studio have since made a trip to the store to check out the model. The model will stay in the window until at least the end of March, but its next home has not been decided yet.

 

It was an interesting experience for everyone as the scale of the model made it probably the largest one that any one of us had worked on. In the studio it  helped all the students to better work together. The process was grueling and physically exhausting towards the end, but the end product makes it worth it!

It’s great to see the model being so publicly used to get people talking about the architecture and urban spaces in an area which has been subject to a number of controversial changes over the last year. Individual student proposals were published in the MEN giving the project further coverage in the region.Read the article here

Be sure to follow Architecture and Urbanism on their Instagram/Twitter to find out more about their ongoing projects Instagram: @maaumsa Twitter: @undoingurbanism

Thanks to Dorcas for explaining the project in more detail.

Students who worked on the model installation at Fred Aldous were: Dorcas Agbana, Priya Renganathan, Rayhane Saber, Marina Kuliasova, Bowen Zhang, Qu Zhang, Shuqian Zhou, Haochu Chen, Tian Gechuan, Dongli Huang, Tingting Miao, Yangyang Bao, Zhaozhao Zhang, Ramita Dewi Lubis, Anggita Krisnandini and Feng Daio

“People, Place, Purpose” Mecanoo Architects Open Lecture at MSA

People Place Purpose open lecture Francesco and Laurens

“People, Place, Purpose” An open lecture from Mecanoo Architects
at the Manchester School of Architecture on Thursday 14th April 2016

Francesco Veenstra, Partner & Architect, Head of the Mecanoo Manchester Office
Laurens Kistemaker, Modelmaker at the Mecanoo Delft Office

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Held in conjunction with the Mecanoo B.15 Modelmaking award we invite you to join us for a presentation of the past a present projects of international award winning architects Mecanoo. Francesco Veenstra will take us through the history and design ethics of Mecanoo culminating with the current MECD project for the University of Manchester. Laurens Kistemaker will explain how ideas are developed at their Delft modelmaking workshop from concept to presentation.

This lecture is FREE and open to all
Thursday 14th April at 17.00 in the Cordingley Lecture Theatre,
Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, University of Manchester, M139PL

Hope you can join us!

Scott and Jim

Masterplan Site Modelling

One of the most common projects students are asked to produce is a master plan model of a chosen site of study. These projects are predominantly but not exclusively set as group projects.

The model will include the extent of the chosen site and a variable amount of content depending on its purpose. Examples of purpose are:
  • Complete massing of each structure within the site
  • Selected features of a specific set of structures perhaps defined by purpose. 
  • Complete or partial topographic representation.
 
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Site Model Edit A
Coventry Master Plan (18)
Why do we make masterplan models?
 
Masterplans comprise a complete set of data on a site. The depth and scope of the data can vary from complete to selected types dependent on their purpose. In drawing form this data is often used as the ‘benchmark’ for subcontracted planning and eventual building of projects.
 
As a model the viewer is given a third dimension to the arrangement of a site. Building forms, types and positioning can be viewed from an instantaneous and variable perspective chosen by the viewers. For this reason the master plan is chosen as the centre piece of many projects and when used to full advantage can be modified by design as projects develop. This in turn provides a constant point of context reference in group discussions and individual presentations about the site.
 
Medical School (4)
city master plans (13)
Tips for Masterplan Modelling
 
APPROPRIATE SCALE. As with all Modelmaking tasks the first major consideration should be the required scale for your model. This may be defined by your brief but can also be left to your discretion. Ensuring the scale is appropriate for your project is critical for both the time concerned and potential expense of the model so take time to think about what needs to be shown. Consider existing map scales you have access to such as 1:1000 or 1:1250.
 
CONSTRUCTION METHOD. A common solution for the representation of contouring is with material that is layered up using survey topography lines. Deciding on an appropriate method for such elements is a key consideration. A previous article covers the ‘stepping’ method when using thick or large amounts of material and can save on cost and waste. Please take the time to read the post here.
 
STANDARD LEVEL OF DETAIL. Group projects need to consider this point especially in order to identify a standard to be attained by all participating members.
One of the main reasons master plan models can come across as messy or rushed is due to an inconsistent level of detail. The rule for detail is circumstantial and really up to the maker but production time for fine details should always be considered alongside what is required to make the model an effective tool. Consistency makes for the best presentation.
 DIVISION OF LABOUR. On projects consisting of tens to hundreds of individual building representations it is crucial to split the site into areas so that sub groups or individuals can work on specified sections.  This helps to work through the project systematically, with time efficiency and avoids any unnecessary duplicates being made by other group members.
 
Continuity Site Context model (16)We hope these pointers help to get you started with your projects but as always feel free to come and consult with us in person if you are unsure.
Scott