Typologies of Architectural Scale Models

13 February 2018
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13 February 2018, Comments 0

In general, in the architectural scale models there are presented bodies, surfaces and bars. These bulky, planimetric or linear bases are used, for example, to represent edifices in an urban mode, facades and walls in a model of a section of an edifice and pillars, or details specific to the model of a structure.

                After a certain type of elaboration, we can distinguish three groups, namely: volumetric models, planimetric models and linear models. Between these three groups, there are different types of transitions.

                The first elemental step in the construction of an architectural model consists in achieving, creating the shape and fixing the superficial texture of the bodies, surfaces and bars. It is also possible to search for the found objects, called “garments”, to reinterpret them and incorporate the model, or to build a pattern with them, like a collage.

            If we consider the field in which models are used, as a way of analysing forms and formal relationships, we can classify the architectural models in three groups: topographic models, overall models and special models. Topographic models include landscapes, fields/lands and gardens. The group of overall models can be classified in urbanization models, edifices, structures, interior spaces and details. Under the name of special models, we understand those models with special design elements, such as furniture. Regarding their construction, all the architectural models can be distinguished according to their being bulky, planimetric or linear, or a certain combination of them. Models can be built through three distinct stages in the project process, responding consistently to different needs, such as how to help a student develop a project, as a working document for a course, as an exhibition object, or as a representative object for a project construction company.

The classification of typical architectural scale models:

  1. Topographical architectural scale models:
  • models of a land
  • models of a landscape
  • models of a garden

  1. Overall architectural scale models:
  • urbanism models
  • models of the edifices
  • model of a structure
  • interior space models
  • the model of details


  1. Special models:
  • design models
  • furniture models

                The architectural scale models are part of the design pattern and refer to the fact that they represent modifiable moments in the project. At the same time, the performance models, in spite of their precision, only explain a decisive phase of the project and even if they were built as a document to make a decision in the presentation of the project, it would be absurd to deduce from this that the model  presented is to be identical with the construction. It should be noted that, in the last stages of designing a project, the models are only useful, with the exception of the model of the details (in which one can learn, for example, facade elements or the elaboration of a staircase), the models of a structure (for the development of alternatives) of some interior spaces (to check the effect of the colours and textures of the materials). Finally, the models for a historic edifice with representation tabs can be built to mount an exhibition.

The models are achieved through three different phases of a project:

  1. The previous project – a sketch of a basic idea or the concept of the model
  2. The project – the basic project or the working model
  3. The execution – the execution of the project or the execution of the model


                The models have to meet different needs in terms of material representation and accuracy of reference details, according to the level of development the project is. There is no need for machines or special tools to build the concept models, but the material used must be obtained in a short time and must be easy to model. In the working model, it will be possible to change volumes even if some formal features are already well-worked. In terms of the execution models, it acquires an unequivocal expression. In addition, the design achieved in this final phase must satisfy the inherent requirements of all design projects: the colours and fabrics of the model must be precisely chosen. Relationships and contrasts between materials translate and accentuate the spatial relationships placed in the project. Lastly, executives are embedded with legends indicating the scale and orientation (geographic north). In a design model, the way how it will be transported and packaged should be thought just before it is built. Depending on the objectives and building materials, it is possible to use several tools and machines that will acquire special construction requirements.

      Briefly, the phases of the projection process can be characterized as follows:

                The position of the model groups, the type of model and the study elaboration of the project results in a typology that will describe more precisely the TYPOGRAPHIC ARCHITECTURAL SCALE MODELS groups and the EDIFICATION ARCHITECTURAL groups. The following articles will explain the construction techniques, reference materials and tools for both types of models.

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