‘In Limbo’ Presentation Site Model, Laura Minca

Laura SiteIntimate Cities student Laura Minca has designed an ever changing settlement within the city centre. The site, on the corner of Whitworth Street and Princess Street in Manchester has been a site of a stalled project for some years now. Laura’s concept would allow the site to continue to expand and develop as required with a construction crane remaining on site to build as the site needs evolve.

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Laura gives us a description of her project below:

The project aims to initially investigate the city of Manchester under a temporal lens, focusing on the spaces ‘in-between‘ worlds, ‘in-between’ stages of development that resulted following the economic downturn. At the heart of the city’s commercial and conservation area lies Origin – unfinished, incomplete, abandoned, hiding behind faded slogans of glamour and projected fantasies of luxury living and work opportunities.

The research and output developed as part of the [Intimate Cities] Atelier will be focused on the current condition of the Roma groups that have targeted the United Kingdom ever since Romania’s entrance in the European Union in 2007. Although their ‘nomadic’ condition is debatable and its deriving taxonomy should be reassessed, the Roma groups provide a fascinating case study in terms of a traveling community’s continuous struggle to adapt within fluctuating social, political and economic climates. 

The temporal context of the project is set starting with January 2014 when the transitional controls on free movement adopted by the UK will end. Following the lift of the travel restrictions and free access to the UK labor market, a high influx of Romani groups are expected to arrive and settle within British and implicitly, Mancunian territory.

Drawing on dichotomies of spatial purity and impurity, on notions of boundary, transience and spatial justice, the scheme proposes a temporary, modular structure that plugs into the existing site infrastructure – a contemporary Roma camp, aimed to provide the incoming community with a set of architectural and spatial principles that develops incrementally.

The focus on temporary, adaptable, shared spaces challenges the sedentary predisposition specific to Western architecture and its affinity towards grand, enduring structures. The approach is driven by the idea that architecture functions as an ideology in built form, that homes are more than just fixed dwellings, more than just sheltering devices: they are tools that enable the communities that use architecture to carve their identities and redefine visions of themselves and their collective subconscious.

This is not a scheme about pristine, perfectly aligned spaces and sleek technologies, but an exploration of imperfection, of the random and the improvised. A breathing, ever-changing structure that echoes the unconventional ways of the Romani people and their ability to adapt in any given environment. (Laura Minca 2014)

Concept renders of how the site would look.

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The scaffold construction that makes up the bulk of the design was represented by engraving the framework on acrylic sheeting and rubbing in acrylic paint to the define the details. This effect is much more efficient that attempting to construct each scaffold piece or laser cutting the frame at this scale.
Laura Minca  (6) Laura Minca  (8) Laura Minca  (9)Laura used wood stain to define the site from the surrounding area. this was achieved by masking the edges and applying more coats of stain to darken her site footprint.

Laura Minca  (11) Laura Minca  (12) Laura Minca  (15) To create the tent like canopy above each area of the site Laura used a vac-formed sheet to create the draped fabric aesthetic desired. This was achieved by creating a former using Ureol Modelboard which was sanded to the correct shape then placed on a base to sit on the bed of the vac former.Laura Minca  (18) Laura Minca  (19) The vac forming process involved heating up styrene vac-forming plastic which is then suction formed around any given shape.Laura Minca  (20)

The completed form is then taken from the bed and trimmed to size for use on the model. Laura Minca  (21)

Laura Minca  (25)Further detail was added to the internal floor spaces using laser cut cardboard fixed to plywood floor plates. This plates were then assembled and slotted into place into the main framework before having the roof canopies fitted above.

Laura Minca (3) Laura used brass etched scaled figures to convey the use of the spaces with figures dotted around the site and near the context. Small pine cones were used to represent trees which always works well with wooden based models. These can be found on various trees and bushes around campus! Laura Minca (4)

Once all scale elements were added and surround massing models were made using Jelutong block, the model was moved into the studio for photographing.

Laura Minca (3) Laura Minca (19) Laura Minca (24) Laura Minca (45) Laura Minca (84)

Timothy Richards: Fine Plaster Architectural Models, Bath

Last week, my self and Jim took some annual leave to go on a modelmaking road trip! We visited two main locations and so I’ll split this summary up into two posts. Firstly, this post will cover our visit to a graduate friend of mine’s place of work in Bath.

Timothy Richards has become the world leader in the production of fine plaster cast architectural models for exhibition display and private commission.

Over the past few months there have been several student projects attempting to delve into the plaster casting medium to convey their ideas.Whilst we have some experience of this process we thought it would be useful to ourselves and to upcoming students to give an insight into this process commercially and how better than to visit this master of the art!

A friend of mine, Lauren Milton, with whom I graduated in Modelmaking is now working for Tim and was able to give us an extensive private tour and insight into the workings of the company. Tim’s models range from complete buildings to facade’s and architectural details. Many of these models are made to order as private commissions however there is a range of popular works which are kept in stock for purchase.

The method used to produce the models has been refined over time but essentially involves creating a ‘master’ form of the subject to take a mould from then casting in the appropriate coloured plaster which can be pigmented to suit. One of Tim’s core beliefs about model building is that a model should be as similar in materiality as the building it represents. This means that all of the works produced here are cast in their final colour and therefore no paint is used on the cast surfaces. The only areas where colour may be applied is again through a ‘raw finish’ material such as thin sheet metal used to emboss over certain areas much as they would be in reality on roofing details etc.

Once cast, the building or facade components are assembled and any additional details such as window frames and railing are added. These details are primarily made from etched brass – a process we will cover in another post but in the mean time please ask myself or Jim for more information.  The resulting components can be made extremely fine and add a great deal of realism to these models.

Finely sculpted elements are made by sculptors who are paid to create exact replicas of organic details on the buildings. Once complete the scaled down sculpts are cast in white metals and then added to the master models before being cast into the final model.

Tim keeps everything for future reference meaning an extensive store of past model masters and moulds. This area in particular is fascinating and shows the breadth of experience compiled through sheer number of past projects in store. This visit was truly fascinating and insightful. It may be possible for us to arrange a lecture and demonstration from Tim this coming academic year. Should this happen I can’t recommend it enough!

For more on Tim’s work click here: http://www.timothyrichards.com/

Outside of our workshop visit we spent some time looking around Bath looking at some of its fantastic architecture and the historic Roman Bath house. All in all a great place to visit should you get the chance!

Taking from our visit we have decided to have a go at creating some plaster models of our own so we’ll keep you updated on our progress with that in the coming weeks.

Scott

ITV Coronation Street model

This 1:250 site model was made for Jenkins Design ahead of the proposals for the new Media City UK site at Salford Quays. The model was used to convey the proposed site details and their relationship to the existing roads and the Manchester Ship Canal.

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