Gaudi: Architecture Ahead of its Time Exhibition, Vienna

Gaudi_Viena.jpg_1995623315During a recent trip to Vienna I was lucky to catch the last day of an exhibition of the works of Gaudi at the Architekturzentrum Wien. The exhibition consisted of examples of furniture design alongside descriptions, slide shows of the major works and of course models.

Gaudi Exhibition (15)Of particular interest to our cause were the plaster models showing details and sections through parts of his buildings. The quality of these pieces was stunning and the photographs I was able to take really don’t do them justice.

Gaudi Exhibition (4)We can take from them is inspiration and a demonstration of the sort of insights models of this type can give us into the form and construction of a building. From my best insights a would say that models have been cast in sections and fitted together afterwards due to the fragility and complex shape of certain details. This method of Modelmaking requires the main focus on planning with a conscious thought for the casting process at all times. Martial tolerance and shrinkage is a key factor in designing parts to a particular size for assembly after casting. Gaudi Exhibition (3)This facade section model of ‘La Pedrera’ in Barcelona shows the layers of supporting structure and outer form beautifully. In addition to the physical properties of the building demonstrated through the design, the shadows cast through window openings clear and defined giving accurate projections of how the interior space may change throughout the day. Gaudi Exhibition (2) Gaudi Exhibition (8) Part of the exhibition text explained the importance of models to any project Gaudi embarked on:

‘Gaudi put models before plans. For this reason he set up a workshop next to each of his buildings, where he studied and analysed, from as empirical and a craftsman’s point of view, the forms and structures that he later applied to his projects. This is what he called his “experimental method”, a method that is still in use in the Sagrada Familia Workshop although these days this process has been enhanced with the most advanced technological instruments.’ (Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Curator of the Exhibition)

Gaudi Exhibition (6)Due to our restricted casting capability in B.15 we will be focusing on the accurate production of the ‘master models’ in a manner suited for molding and casting at the Chatham casting facility. As with all projects, consult myself or Jim as early as possible to achieve the most effective results in your time frame. If the project is too difficult at a later stage a high quality finish will be harder to achieve so don’t hesitate to start on receiving your brief.Gaudi Exhibition (11)Also on display was this model 3D powder printed model of the entire Sagrada Familia (above). Producing a model of such complexity as a plaster cast would be achievable but in this case the powder printed method was chosen. Most likely due to the sophistication of each ‘spire’ component and it’s relationship to the next. Certainly for the conservation of time and as a retrospective piece this is very appropriate.  Gaudi Exhibition (17)The above prototype testing model or stereo-funicular model is a replica of that used by Gaudi to develop his design for the construction of the crypt of the Colonia Guell. Simple materials like lead weights, string and a frame were crucial aids to design in Gaudis workshops and demonstrate the value of simple methods of creation or problem solving through making.

I’m glad I was able to catch this exhibition and would recommend anyone to drop by the Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna) if they are in the city. Although it has now finished you can view the exhibition page here.

Scott

Plaster Casting guide inspired by Timothy Richards Models

Earlier this year myself and Jim went on a visit to Timothy Richards workshop in Bath. Read more about that visit here.

In response to what we saw there we decided to have a go at casting some facade tests of our own to demonstrate to you the potential when using this method for modelmaking. Starting with some reference images of the University of Manchester Archway we decided to focus on one of the Gothic style windows as our subject.

Making a ‘Master’

Initially recreating the form of this stone work in miniature may seem time consuming but as you will see the end results are fantastic and the intricate detail featured is easily replicated by casting.

A good way of creating details like this is by layering sheet material, in this case acrylic. Planning the layers on CAD will allow you to break down the details into manageable  stages (Above). When combined, the layers of laser cut acrylic form the recesses and steps in the winder with the radius in the stone work being replicated using a filler and hand sanding (Below).

Spraying a coat of primer paint on hand finished areas can help to identify any imperfections in the surface (Below). This primer can then be sanded back

The extra details of the window can be formed using styrene and or abs strip with any further radius being creating again with filler. Once complete the master model is ready to be moulded. 

 Pouring a Silicone Mould 

The are a wide range of silicone’s available for mould making so it is always advisable to check the specification of individual products before committing to use them on your master model. Firstly ensure the master is secured to a mould former – in this case we used a storage try which suited but bespoke formers are usually required.

Ensure the silicone is mixed to the manufacturers instructions and pour in a thin stream to avoid any air bubbles forming against the master mould. Ensure the master is sufficiently covered and allow to cure for the recommended time.

Once cured carefully remove the silicone mould preserving the master mould to be reused if any problems occur. The benefit of using silicone is that the flex allows the master and eventually cast items to be easily removed without much stain on the items themselves.  Some minor trimming of silicone overlap may be required before the mould is ready to be used for plaster casting.Plaster Casting

As with the silicone there are many types of plaster available so always check to see if the specification suits your needs. In this case we simply used stone plaster mixed to the correct consistency and poured directly into the silicone mould – no release agent required.

Once the plaster has set it can be carefully removed from the mould giving a completed cast. These sections can be used as tests or replicated to create a more detailed facade. 

One area we have touched on is adding pigments to the plaster mix to give varied results in terms of finished cast colouring. We will revisit this area when we have time to experiment some more and let you know how it goes. If you have any ideas that could make use of this method of making be sure to get in touch either via email or in person at the workshop. We are more than happy to help! Scott & Jim

 

 

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

Ancoats Community Development ‘Hybrid Scheme’, Sandra Schenavsky

3rd year Student Sandra Schenavsky decided to take a materialistic approach to her final submission model. The proposed site in Ancoats would feature a well rounded use of buildings to create a ‘Work, Life and Leisure’ balance for those who might use the space.

Sandra wanted to convey the different uses of each element of her design by representing them as near to her proposed material finish as possible. To do this the existing site and landscaping was represented in laser cut card contours. The main building itself was constructed using pigmented plaster casts to represent concrete sections, laser cut MDF to represent wooden cladding and laser cut acrylic to represent glass facades.

This was a great experimentation project which found a good balance of techniques. Casting plaster into MDF molds proved challenging but after several trials Sandra was able to come up with an effective way of casting the forms she wanted.

 

Grand Designs Live, ExCel, London

Yesterday myself and Jim travelled down to London to visit the Grand Designs Live show at ExCel. The show presents hundreds of suppliers from various design industries inspired by the hit TV series. Of particular interest to us was the use of models as sales pieces for show participants. This was not limited to scaled down architectural pieces but full size 1:1 constructions and prototype details. Throughout the day we were able to meet a variety of people and spread the word about the workshop, this blog and the courses we are involved with here in Manchester.

Several weeks ago we posted about the dwelle project that was completed in the workshop. This project was and continues to be very successful for dwelle in demonstrating the construction behind their eco house design. The model made a starring appearance at the show next to the Grand Theatre which hosts many design related lectures over 10 days.

As well as visiting ExCel we stopped by at the V & A to have a quick look at their Architecture gallery. The gallery features a good selection of model types and styles and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.