Perhaps the most established material used for makingarchitectural models is wood, as it has prevailed forover 500 years. Unlike paper and cardboard, workingwith wood is typically more labour-intensive but theinvestment of additional time, effort and cost is oftenrewarded with the impressive results. Since different typesof wood each have their own natural aesthetic, this isusually expressed independently of the model’s form andcomposition. The subtle variances in the grain and colourof different woods provide a rich palette with which tomodel. Wood can be sanded very finely and then treatedin a number of ways, including varnishes and paints, butthe majority of models made using this material are leftuncoated since it is the natural state and appearance ofthe material that gives wood its aesthetic appeal.

Although a considerable spectrum of different typesof wood is available, they all fit into two basic categories.The more familiar is naturally grown and dried wood thatis taken and manufactured directly from trees. The othercategory consists of products that are manufactured fromwaste wood produced by timber-processing industries;these are wood-based and usually produced in sheets.Both types of wood are frequently used in modelling.

An important factor when deciding which type ofnatural wood to use in a model is ensuring that the grainis appropriate for its scale. In most cases, it is preferableto use a wood with a smooth and relatively plain surface.Such consideration is not necessary with wood-basedproducts as they are uniform in appearance and, as wellas use for model components, are often used for makingmodel bases or large-scale prototypes. However, greatcare should be taken when working with these materials(particularly wood-based ones) to ensure that the correctprotective clothing, such as goggles and a face mask, isworn, as the resultant dust can be very harmful.

The pliability of wooden veneers is beautifullydemonstrated by these explorative models by BarkowLeibinger. The practice is consistently engaged invarious studies, examining the potential of materialsthrough different processes and techniques of workingthem. Indeed, their approach is characterized by an active engagement with making: ‘our goal is to reducethe studio’s isolation from the place where the work ismade. Instead we embrace the factory, the foundry, thelaboratory and the workshop as the best sites for theconception of architecture.’