MODEL SCALE! When considering a model – the first and arguably most important decision you will make is the size or SCALE of the model: The scale you use can be determined by answering the following questions: 1. What do you need the model to do for you? Eg. Does it need to reference off site locations, is it important to see specific detail? If so, what and where? (It is usually better to construct more than one model at an appropriate scale to allow the viewer to understand what you are trying to communicate, rather than trying to fit everything into one cumbersome model which will inevitably be a compromise.) A model that covers a large area eg. A site context model, would necessarily be of a relatively small scale eg 1:1000 and would therefore not be suitable to show architectural detail. Similarly, a relatively large scale model eg. 1:100 model would be ideal for a single building showing architectural detail, glazing, interior layout etc. But would have to be enormous to cover the whole site context. 2. What area (or how much of the design) does the model need to cover? Eg. A site 50m x 50m would be 500mm x 500mm @ 1:100 scale (To calculate always convert metres to millimetres ie: multiply by 1000. So 50,000mm x 50,000mm ÷ 100 = 500mm x 500mm) Similarly a 500m x 500m site would need a model 5m x 5m @ 1:100 scale, which in most cases would be impractical. 3. Are there any practical restrictions to take into account? Eg. Are there any space restrictions wherever the model is to be displayed? Does it need to be portable? Will it fit through doors? (It may need to be made in several sections to allow it
to be moved.)How will it be stored? How long will the model be needed? It might not be necessary building a durable model from hard materials if it is only required for a few weeks! 4. How long do you have to complete the model? If you have a very tight deadline, time may restrict you to certain materials ie. a card and paper model can be made anywhere and will be quicker and easier to complete than a model using materials which can only be shaped in the workshop. The amount of work require to complete a model (and therefore the time required) is proportional to the scale. Eg. Compare a 1:100 scale model with a 1:200 scale model of a given area: The 1:100 model will cover 4 x the area and 8 x the volume of the 1:200 scale model – that could be up to 8 x more work! 5. How much do you want to spend? Budget will also dictate the various modelling methods and materials available to you and may be the deciding factor in determining scale. When you have taken all the above factors into consideration, the scale should be obvious, giving you overall dimensions for your base, which will ALWAYS be FLAT! And will usually (but not always) be a piece of board or thick foamboard and will also often be the heaviest part of the model. Example 1: You need a site context model to illustrate your design for a crit: The site measures 200m x 300m and is located in a town with a river, a major road and a railway station. Your design must not be higher than a large historical building located 650 metres away from the 300m side of the site. The model would need to show surrounding building mass and height to contextualize the site. Landform would need to be obvious
showing waterways and significant features. Road and rail access would also need to be shown. Any other features referenced to your design will also need to be identified and shown. You have a space 1m² to display your model. The crit is in one week and you already have plenty of other work to be done. You will be expected to arrive with the model and remove it from the school on the same day. This means:
A. The model will have to cover an area at least 950m (nearly 1km) by at least 200m, probably more. B. The maximum size the model can be is 1m in any direction C. It needs to be light enough to carry easily D. The model needs to be built in a time efficient manner in order to get it completed in time and not to take you away from other important course work.
A. 950m site max dimension (950,000mm) ÷ 1m maximum model dimension (1000mm) = 950 So you now have a maximum scale of 1:950. Realistically this would be 1:1000 scale ie 950mm long by whatever the smaller dimension ends up depending on how much more of the context you need to see. B. Construction should be lightweight. C. Construction methods should be quick and simple – if you make a mistake it should be relatively easy to modify the model so avoid hard materials. Use Foam, card, paper and soft sheet
plastic etc. The lighter the materials, the less thick (and therefore lighter) the baseboard will need to be to keep everything rigid. Example 2: You need to show the interior layout of your single storey 25m x 40m building and you want to draw particular attention to a novel glazing to wall connection measuring 20mm. You have a space 1m² to display your model. The crit is in one week and you already have plenty of other work to be done. You will be expected to arrive with the model and remove it from the school on the same day. This means: A. The model must not exceed 1m² B. The scale must be sufficient to show the very small glazing detail but you must also be able to show the interior layout of the whole building C. The model must be portable Therefore: A. 40m maximum building size (40,000mm) ÷ 1m maximum model dimension (1000mm) = 40 ie 1:40 scale – the interior layout can be quite effectively shown – albeit with minimal detail at 1:100 or even 1:200 scale (250mm x 400mm or 125mm x 200mm respectively B. @ 1: 40 scale the 20mm glazing detail would be 0.5mm ie. too small to be useful. So instead, consider making a much larger separate scale detail section model of this feature: A 1 metre wide section of a typical (300mm) single storey (3m high) exterior wall containing the glazing feature @ 1:10 scale would measure 100mm wide x 300mm high x 3mm deep. The 20mm wall connection detail would now be much more visible @
2mm. (This model could be displayed vertically on the wall if required as a relief on some graphics.) C. Both Models will need to be as light and manageable as possible, start with a rigid base (or background in the case of the 1:10 section) and build up paying attention to weight and manageability when choosing materials.