architectural model making now

Why use physical models to describe and explore the qualities of architecture? This question seems even more pertinent given the significant rise of computers engaged in the architectural design process. The most obvious answer lies, of course, in the actual tangibility of such models that, unlike their cropped and flat counterparts, offer substance and completeness. Physical models enable designs to be explored and communicated in both a more experimental and more rigorous manner than other media, as various components of the project may not appear to make much sense until visualized in three dimensions. Akiko Busch suggests that part of our attraction to models lies in the fact that ‘the world in miniature grants us a sense of authority; it is more easily manoeuvred and manipulated, more easily observed and understood. Moreover, when we fabricate, touch, or simply observe the
miniature, we have entered a private affair; the sense of closeness, of intimacy is implicit.’

The integration of digital technology with traditional modelmaking techniques has resulted in important and exciting shifts in the manner in which we engage with the design process of architecture. The proliferation of computers and advanced modelling software has enabled architects and students alike to conceive designs that would be very difficult to develop using more traditional methods – yet despite this, the physical model appears to be experiencing something of a renaissance. This return to ‘analogue’ models seems to confirm that, as Peter Cook suggests, ‘as we become cleverer at predicting colour, weight, performance or materiality, we are often in danger of slithering past the question of just what the composition of space may be … [since] … the tactile and visual nature of stuff may get you further into the understanding and composition of architecture’
Furthermore, the application of CAD technologies as part of the production of physical models is increasingly widespread through processes such as laser cutting, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling and rapid prototyping. The translation of computer-generated data to physical artefact is reversed with equipment such as a digitizer, which is used to trace contours of physical objects directly into the computer.

Computational modelmaking offers a different set of techniques and tools for the designer compared to traditional methods, thereby increasing the development of design innovation and the production of architectural knowledge. The tactile qualities of constructing and handling a physical model afford the maker contact with the real world and so any overlap between different techniques and media, both digital and physical, can only enrich the discourse within the discipline even further. Indeed, as Karen Moon writes, ‘Even as architecture moves beyond the realm of the material, the physical model – contrary to expectation – may not lose its purpose. Models produced at the push of a button cannot offer the individuality and range of expression requisite for the task, nor can the imagination of architects be satisfied in this manner.’

The potential for computer technologies to run parallel to, or combine with, hand techniques as part of the design process is an exciting evolution that suggests the days of physical models are far from over. From the current situation, the future of architectural design looks set not only to retain physical models as essential tools, which enable design development and communication at the very core of its practice and education, but also to increase their production as the connection between design data and construction information becomes ever closer through digital fabrication techniques.

So Hc models is a professional architecture model making company.