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The Fun and Usefulness of Real Architectural Models
With user-friendly computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D computer modeling programs easily available for use (and not just for the professional) why build real models?
For once, they are great fun to build. But time is money; as a business fun is not a great selling point. Hence: they are still extremely useful as a design tool for studying possible problems such as day lighting (or the lack of it), wind forces, aesthetic proportions and structural stability, to name but a few.
A computer modeling is still only a picture and in terms of determining scale and depth perception a physical mock-up is still better in bringing the space alive. It can be touched. It can be put into daylight simulators and wind tunnels. It can give a higher comfort level in the design. It mitigates risk. Once the project is built, changes are very difficult with large cost implication. A model avoids disappointments and creates realistic expectations.
Usually the physical environment is replicated in a scaled version. But if it concerns a component in an interior renovation, such as shelves, furniture or cabinets and the concern is access or ease of circulation, full scale working replica are useful.
There are two different types of models – a presentation one which is very detailed, pretty and realistic or the working model which is less detailed, usually not pretty, and often quite rough, made out of foam or card board but shows the issues which are under investigation.
As a design firm we frequently use working models to check or explain aspects of our projects which are special features, unusual geometries or help our clients with their visualization. It gives us and the client a piece of mind and, though an additional design cost, in the long run will save time and money.
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wikipedia.org: Architectural Model
architectural-models.com: Why Use Architectural Models
Models are an excellent Communication Tool