Model Making

Model making, either physically or digitally is an essential tool for architects. The model making process allows designs to be tested in three dimensions.

There are different kinds of models depending on which aspects are being tested. I have listed a few of the most often used kinds of models below:

    • Site models. Made for a building on a site and viewing it within its context. Usually to test the ‘massing’ of the building. The model is used to look at aspects such scale and the relationship of the building to features on a site. A site model may also used to assess daylighting and the sun path.
    • Working models. Quickly and roughly made to test ideas in progress such as solid areas in relation to openings and the composition of three dimensional elements.
    • Interior models. Constructed to show the interior finishes and organisation of the spaces.
    • Detail models. Painstaking to construct and usually made at a large scale, detail models are used to test three dimensional junctions between materials.
    • Presentation models. Sometimes made by hand, often by computer. These models are time consuming to construct or render and aim to show how the building will look as a lifelike facsimile.


Many larger practices have dedicated model making departments containing 3D printers and lazer cutting machinary machinary. Smaller practices generally rely on junior members of the team with a sharp scalpal, a cutting board and plenty of card. Indeed my first role within architecture practice was that of a model maker.