Typologies of Architectural Scale Models

/Typologies of Architectural Scale Models

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 architectural model of a structure.

                After a certain type of elaboration, we can distinguish three groups, namely: volumetric architectural models, planimetric architectural 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 architectural model, or to build a pattern with them, like a collage.

            If we consider the field in which architectural models are used, as a way of analysing forms and formal relationships, we can classify the architectural models in three groups: topographic architectural models, overall architectural models and special architectural models. Topographic architectural model include landscapes, fields/lands and gardens. The group of overall architectural models can be classified in urbanization architectural models, edifices, structures, interior spaces and details. Under the name of special architectural models, we understand those architectural 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. Architectural model 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:
  • architectural models of a land
  • architectural models of a landscape
  • architectural models of a garden

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


  1. Special models:
  • design architectural models
  • furniture architectural 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 architectural 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 architectural 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 architectural model of the details (in which one can learn, for example, facade elements or the elaboration of a staircase), the architectural models of a structure (for the development of alternatives) of some interior spaces (to check the effect of the colors and textures of the materials). Finally, the architectural models for a historic edifice with representation tabs can be built to mount an exhibition.

The architectural 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 architectural model
  2. The project – the basic project or the working architectural model
  3. The execution – the execution of the project or the execution of the architectural model


                The architectural 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 architectural models, but the material used must be obtained in a short time and must be easy to model. In the working architectural 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 colors and fabrics of the architectural 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 architectural 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 architectural model groups, the type of architectural 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 architectural models.


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