This type of model is similar to the site and city modelsdescribed above, in so much as it provides a simplifiedcommunication of a design’s various components ratherthan detailed information. Depending on the extentof the design, the various components may representthe different spaces of a single building or a numberof different buildings that form a complex. The maindistinction is that they communicate the relationship ofthat building’s elements or its whole only in relation toitself rather than the surrounding context. This enables adesigner to investigate the formal qualities of a design –such as proportion, shape and mass – without necessarily becoming too entrenched in more specific issues relatedto materials, construction and detailing. Such models arevery useful tools as they enable architects and studentsto make quick design decisions and test any novel ideasthey have, as well as providing a refining process forinitial thoughts. This type of model is often used bystudents to examine how different parts of a building’sprogramme may stack up and be rearranged in relationto both aesthetic and pragmatic considerations – anexample of the latter being proximity to other buildingsand circulation.


Another advantage of these models is that they can bemade using a variety of different media, so that whilethey may not necessarily attempt to replicate finalbuilding materials, the effect of colour, light and masscan be explored both between the various componentsand within the overall composition. A significantnumber of designers use this technique to investigatedifferent qualities of various materials in relation toinitial design ideas – a process clearly evident in theproliferation of physical models currently being producedin contemporary practice.