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

Colwyn Bay Conservatorium 1:250 Massing Model by Kristian James

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Continuity 5th year student Kristian James produced this 1:250 massing model to outline the existing jumbled mass of buildings enclosing his site. The final model form was refined after careful consideration for the role of the model in his project. As the massing was an indication of form rather than a detailed representation, hand crafted block forms were chosen over detailed engraved or printed inserted models.
Kristian summarised the project:
“Using a range of recycled hardwood timbers, I built a 1:250 site massing model which conveyed the different elements of the project. The natural aesthetic  properties of the timber were used to subtly suggest a difference in the design but also retained the desired rustic effect.
With this in mind, the model was left in its raw state and the time spent on the model was used towards create a high quality finish.
 
The CNC machine was also used to remove the road path from the site base.
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During the build of this model, I spent a lot of time building elements using hand tools, which although may have taken longer, provided a far more accurate finish.
Unlike most models I have made in the past, I did not laser cut any components and therefore each element was bespoke and done by hand.
Although far more stressful, it was very rewarding and resulted in a product that was far more beautiful than anything I had created before of this size.
 
I would summarise by saying that a good model in my opinion should integrate both modern and traditional techniques!”
Kristian James (16) Kristian James (19) Kristian James (24) Kristian James (31)

Deansgate Locks, Manchester Site Presentation Model By Aayu Malhotra

This site looks at a stalled site on Deansgate Locks. 6th Year MAarch student Aayu was asked to regenerate the development and look at potential future uses of the space. He decided to introduce small business’s to the site which would over time, expand and bring further investment to the area. The building form allows for expansion of the development by leaving the top of the building open for additional floors, formed around the core, to be added at a later time.

Aayu (5) As with Aayus other projects, he preferred to convey his design by making a highly detailed model, predominantly by hand, to emphasise the craftsmanship of the individual spaces in the development. Aayu much preferred this method over digital renders which he believed to be more corporate.

Aayu (9) The design is made of lightweight materials to allow for quick construction of additional areas. This idea was carried over into the design of his model with the main materials being paper, card, timber and fabrics.Aayu (11) The majority of the 1:100 scale model was designed and built by Aayu at home. Another benefit of using simple lightweight materials is the ability to make parts without the need for machines and specialist facilities. Aayu (13)

Scale figures were added along with items of furniture that indicate the potential use of a space. These items help to avoid repetition across the model and really bring out the intended mixed use concept. Aayu (12) Aayu (19) Once scale detail had been added the model was photographed in our studio and is now ready for the end of year show.Aayu (24)

Aayu (2) Aayu (15) Aayu (19) Aayu (20) Aayu (21) Aayu (22) Aayu (23)It’s very refreshing to see a model so lovingly hand crafted using minimal input from CAD driven machines. More like this please everyone!

Venice Arsenale Site Model, Matt Arnold

Matt used stained Meranti hardwood to create the block massing on his model. The majority of the model was hand finished to a high standard with time being taken to sand the blocks a smooth finish. The water in the Arsenale basin is represented with a sheet of frosted acrylic.

The site itself covers the Venice Arsenale and focusses around a small site, as is often the case with Venice, in between a restrictively protected mass of existing historic buildings. Matt intends to use the model as a master to ‘drop in’ his site proposals as they develop with the final model being displayed in place at the end of year exhibition.

Structural Junction Details, Polys Christofi

Polys has used layers of laminated packing cardboard to create a model of the wall and component details he is studying. This 1:2 prototype will test the component assembly before he attempts to make a 1:1 component.
Due to the expensive and impractical nature of using the actual construction materials for his models Polys is using cheaper alternatives for his studies. The main purpose of this cardboard model was to clearly define how each element will interact with the next rather than mimicking the properties of the 1:1 real detail.  Many shapes and forms can be made from cardboard which can also be surprisingly strong when laminated. This curved parts were made using a former and glulamming process.

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

1:100 section model of a distribution/retail centre in Bradford, Sam Higgins

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To further convey the detail within the Site as shown in Sam’s 1:500 site model, this model takes a section of one of the buildings to focus on. By using a ‘cut through’ approach at 1:100 the viewer is able to better understand the complexity or layout of a building’s construction that is not put across in models of a smaller scale.

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Sam used a variety of materials and techniques to create this cross section but of most importance to note is that it was largely hand crafted and assembled. Whilst CAD based machines can greatly benefit the construction of elements of your models they are best used as additional tools for making rather than the sole producer of your models.

This model used laser cut parts to great effect such as the window frames and shelving units which, if done by hand would come at great cost in terms of your time. Time spent drawing accurate components for other flat elements of this model, is far better spent simply hand cutting them. This is also a lot cheaper! Use machines appropriately – ask a member of staff when deciding how to construct your model for their take on the best approach.

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