Announcing ‘Mecanoo B.15 Modelmaking Awards 2017’!

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We are pleased to announce for the third year running, the Mecanoo B.15 Modelmaking awards!

This years’ awards are given for both practical outputs and personal intention that demonstrates a good understanding of why and how to use modelmaking effectively in design.
Judging will focus on each students’ overall approach to modelmaking in their design work and will be critical of its application within the context of the brief, chosen scales, materials and overall finished quality.

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Short-listing will occur in the weeks leading up to the MSA show opening  where final judging and awards will be presented by Mecanoo on June 9th. Anybody interested in being considered please make yourself known to us during your time at the workshop. 
 
Students from 3rd year BA (Hons) Architecture and in a change from previous years MArch years 1 + 2 are both eligible to make the short-list for one of six awards.

******* Open-house launch event Tuesday 14th February *******

*******Exclusive to MSA students*******

***This Event is Now Fully Booked***

To officially launch this years awards and allow students to find out more about the practice, Mecanoo will be hosting an open-house event at their Manchester Princess Street office taking place on Tuesday 14th February 17.30 – 19.30. MSA students are invited to drop in for a short introduction to Mecanoo from Architect Patrick Arends and Modelmaker Laurens Kistemaker. A good opportunity to network and find out more about this years award scheme from the people who judge it.

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‘Ask the Modelmaker’ Student Drop-In day Wednesday 15th February

Mecanoos in-house modelmaker Laurens Kistemaker will be coming to the workshop to see ongoing projects and offer advice to anyone. He will be around all day and happy to consult with you on your ongoing or upcoming work.

 

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We look forward to seeing some great work from everyone in the coming months.
Find out more about Mecanoo on their website: www.mecanoo.nl

Easter Break and Late Opening Hours

Hi All,

The workshop will remain open for the first week of Easter break between 3rd and 7th April. We will then be closed until Monday 24th.

As previously announced there are 4 other mornings where we are closed after Easter: Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th April and Tuesday 2nd May – closed between 09.30 and 14.00.

Late opening hours

Beginning Monday 24th April the workshop will remain open for an extra 3 hours a day Monday to Thursday for 4 weeks. This includes the dates where we will be closed in the mornings mentioned above.

The workshop will remain open Monday -Thursday until 19.30 when students will be asked to clean up your workspace as normal in preparation for the following day. These temporary opening times are as follows:

Monday 09.30 – 19.30

Tuesday 09.30 – 19.30

Wednesday 09.30 – 19.30

Thursday 09.30 – 19.30

Friday 09.30 – 16.30

See you soon, Scott & Jim

Opening Hours Update

Hi All,

Reminder that there are a few dates over the next two months when the workshop will be closed for part or whole days. Take note to avoid disruption to your projects! Apologies for any inconvenience.

March

Friday 10th March – Closed between 11.30 – 14.00

Tuesday 14th March – Closed from 13.00 – 17.00

Friday 17th March – Closed All Day

Between 20th March and 31st March ‘Events’ projects are ongoing and will mean the workshop will be busier with booked events group’s taking priority to use the space.

April/May

Easter Opening and a period of Later opening hours will be confirmed soon in another post.

Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th April and Tuesday 2nd May – closed between 09.30 and 14.00. Open as normal each afternoon 14.00 – 16.30

Scott & Jim

Atelier La Juntana Summer School 2017 MSA Exclusive, Santander, Spain

new MSA Summer Workshop_Model Making in the Digital Age 17_A3 Board

We are pleased to announce an exclusive week long course of modelmaking and craft skills this summer taking place exclusively for MSA 2nd and 5th year students this July. This unique course takes place in a National Park in the North of Spain between 19th and 26th July 2017.

Atelier La Juntana is a week-long workshop experience designed to teach architecture students a wide range of traditional and contemporary skills for use in architectural modelmaking.

Watch the trailer for the school here:

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This intensive course is designed to gives 15 students new skills and access to traditional and cutting edge facilities, allowing them to build on existing model making skills and raising the level significantly for future projects. The course is taught by Architects and Artists from the University of Madrid. B.15 technicians will also be attending alongside yourselves as participants in the course.

The cost of the course has been significantly subsidised for students of MSA to a cost of £354 per student (Correct as of March 5th 2017 -Subject to minor fluctuation in the exchange rate).

This cost covers the full 7 day course,accommodation for 8 nights (arriving Tuesday 18th July leaving 26th), The workshop is a full-time course, starting at 09.30am and finishing at 5.30pm each day, with a total of 56 learning hours. Each participant will have his or her own working space; access to Wi-Fi and the library, printer and plotter; a resting area in the garden; and access to a small kitchen.

Flights are the individuals responsibility to book. Direct flights to Santander or Bilbao (coach or train to Santander) can be booked from London – more information following application. 

Deposits of 150 Euros each required by 14th April latest to secure accomodation and a place on the course. Remaining balance (subject to exchange rate) will need to be paid no later than June 15th.


Apply to Join!

What do you need to do to join us? The course is exclusively for 2nd and 5th year students wanting to pick up new skills to be brought back to the final year at MSA.

Please download and fill in the application document and return it as soon as possible to scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION DOCUMENT

Due to the exclusivity of the course there are a limited number of places so please don’t hesitate to send your application over.

More information can be found on the official website here: http://www.atelierlajuntana.com/SummerWorkshop.html

If you have any questions please get in touch: scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk

We look forward to hearing for you!

Scott & Jim

Taking Making into Practice: Hawkins\Brown Architects

Earlier this year we were approached by Hawkins\Brown Architects to host a CPD session for their Manchester office, several of whom are Alumni of Manchester School of Architecture.

This gave us the opportunity to consolidate our current approach at MSA and present the idea of model making in a new inspirational light.

Much like our approach to tacking problems in the workshop we began by getting to the heart of the subject. Looking at the origins of the craft we asked ‘where did it all start and why?’ The craft’s background bares many similarities to our current thoughts and reasoning behind modelmaking. The physical model is viewed as an embodiment of ideas, beliefs and values to be read by others.

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Our presentation followed the timeline of history, using ancient and classical precedents to modern day applications in architectural practice, portraying the changes for the maker and architect. Expanding on our exploration, we asked Hawkins\Brown to tell us their views from a project level and their thoughts on the future of modelmaking in practice. We gain an insight from Hawkins\Brown Architect and MSA Graduate Jack Stewart who has a keen interest in the ever evolving relationship between physical modelmaking and digital fabrication.

“I’d bet there isn’t a single project that makes it through Hawkins\Brown without at least one model being produced for it. 

We can make models for all stages of projects and using models as design tools is an essential part of our process. Quick sketch models are invaluable to explore our ideas in three dimensions with design teams. Whilst these and more polished models are fantastic tools to help describe schemes to clients and sell schemes to stakeholders or consultation groups, such as planning. Clients love handling a tangible three dimensional object and we love testing them”

Education and Practice

The idea of making in practice is something that many of our students wish to continue and in many cases would gladly devote a lot of more of their time to. This often raises the question of how this ideology can be and is fulfilled in practice. What can come as a surprise is the broad selection of styles and scales of model making that is actively used in practice everyday.

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For example Hawkins\Brown have just invested in a new modelmaking workshop space at their London base and have a designated maker space at their satellite Manchester office which recently celebrated its 1st year of work.

“Historically we have relied upon design teams to construct their own physical 3D models and when a particularly onerous or complex model has been required we would outsource this to a specialist model maker. We don’t anticipate the latter disappearing, but we do value the close link between our design teams and the models that they are using. As such we have recently employed an in-house model maker. We’re at a size now where an in-house model maker is really valuable to help educate on model making techniques, explore more possibilities, maintain the equipment that we have in-house and make the connection with external resources for machines and materials that we don’t have in-house. We anticipate this will help to take our in-house models to the next level.”

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What is particularly encouraging about this approach is the value given to the craft of model making and the potential for those within architecture to utilise the skills they have learnt within their education.

“[Our] design process doesn’t follow a company standard. Every project is unique creating a unique series of design challenges. Like the adage says, ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’, it is up to the individuals within a design team to decide how they would like to best approach a design problem. In many cases this results in the creation of a physical model.”

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Working space

Having worked in several different modelmaking companies and visited many different workshops, no two set-ups are the same. Finding a balance of the appropriate tools to fit out a workshop is instrumental in making each output achieve its intended purpose. Hawkins\Brown are striking this balance between hand craft and digital fabrication.

“We have much of the more traditional facilities and equipment such as cutting mats and tools for thinner sheet materials, hot wire cutters for foam models and numerous typical working tools for material preparation. We invested in a laser cutter four years ago, which further increased our ability for model production.”

The company have also recently purchased a ‘MakerBot’ and ProJet360 Powder printer with a view to speeding up the production of complex forms that can be deemed too time consuming for traditional making techniques during design development. Time, or a lack of it, is certainly a major consideration when it comes to the application of modelmaking in student submissions. The increased pressure for a variety of submissions at once allows little time to learn through making. This is something that we strive to improve upon, though how is this considered in practice? How does project time factor in allowance for modelmaking requirements? Jake Stephenson is a recent part 1 architect working at Hawkins\Brown who has continued modelmaking into practice.

“[Modelmaking] is very important and affirms what we learned at university about the process informing the design. In practice [modelmaking] goals are usually a decision made between myself and the project architect about when it would need to be completed by. Being realistic about my own time and skills as well as how fast a model would can be created. It’s very much about my awareness of time scales; booking laser cutting sessions, getting files ready – then allowing enough time to build my model for the deadline we set ourselves.

When it comes to costs it’s about giving options. For example when doing an iterative sketch model, I would use cheaper materials, compared to a model that is to show the client where the budget would generally be bigger for material costs. We would always try to source the cheapest most effective options by checking with multiple suppliers to get the most for our budget.”

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Thoughts on the future

There are many perceptions of what it is to practice architecture as we are reminded daily in our workshop and without fail at every university open day. If we were to give a cross section of the questions we were regularly asked by prospective students and their parents it would invariably bring up something about technology and CAD driven machines. The awareness within the general public has increased due to the shift in accessibility of mainstream manufacturing techniques and prototyping. It’s important to remember that much of this stereolithographic technology is not as new as so often perceived. What has changed in recent years is the relative ease for interested parties to use it. This has led to an almost universal expectation that these mediums be made available in education and that accessing them is a given and large part of modern learning.

Our responses to the often broad enquiries in the area of 3D Printing and Laser cutting often lead us to ask a lot of ‘Why?’ based questions. ‘Why are we setting out to make a particular object and why do you believe such a machine can get you to that goal?’

Our concern and reasoning here is in the misuse of technology as a learning tool. There is often a strong desire from students to depend upon it without understanding their own intentions or purpose of their exploration through the model. We advocate the work ethos to our students to stop and think before diving straight in.

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For Jack Stewart, having a strong interaction between traditional and contemporary data driven approaches is very important for successful outputs and effective learning within the Hawkins\Brown team.

“With BIM becoming ever more prevalent, in the construction industry, digital models for detail production and delivery of projects are becoming increasingly important. But how we generate the forms and arrangements of our buildings, at a concept design stage, benefits hugely from both digital and physical modelling too.

For CAD modelling it is a particularly interesting domain. A model that perhaps begins life as a simple massing study will evolve, through to construction, usually through numerous separated studies. However now, through using emerging generative modelling technology, this entire process can potentially be captured in one software tool. The possibilities here are that decisions made, that are dictating early design principles, could in theory be amended much later in the process with all subsequent detail updating accordingly. This is possible as more sophisticated digital models geometries can be defined as a series of design decisions that are stored as data, rather than statically sculpted ‘dumb objects’.

The benefits of models stored as data is the ability to translate this data, quite easily, into something else – something physical. And with the accessibility of rapid prototyping and the machines described previously the connection to and knowledge of these machines will likely become increasingly important. The techniques and skills needed for model making will certainly grow in this regard. Whilst the skill required to manually craft materials into beautiful models, should not be lost, I believe future model makers will become even more well versed in intelligently generating CAD models and then streamlining these for fabrication. Here I see the boundary that we define between digital and physical models, and between designer and model maker, changing.

Putting together our initial presentation for a CPD has been a good opportunity to reflect and analyse our beliefs about modelmaking at B.15.  With the ongoing digital shift in architecture, the role of the architect is changing and architectural education needs to respond to that. Graduates who can identify the best means to explore their ideas through proven skill will be more sought after than those who solely depend on technology to make their decisions. Our ongoing discussions with Hawkins\Brown have proved insightful and we look forward to working more with this growing practice.

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Hawkins\Brown have offices in Manchester and London employing some 240 architects. Current projects include the London Crossrail development and the Schuster Annexe at The University of Manchester (render shown above).

Many Thanks to Jack Stewart & Harbinder Singh Birdi & to Laura Keay & Jake Stephenson for inviting us to present.

For More information visit: http://www.hawkinsbrown.com/ 

Scott Miller, B.15 Modelmaking Workshop 2017

Opening Hours in the Next Few Months

Hi All,

There are a few dates over the next few months when the workshop will be closed for part or whole days. Take note to avoid disruption to your projects! Apologies for any inconvenience.

March

Tuesday 14th March – Closed from 13.00 – 17.00

Friday 17th March – Closed All Day

Between 20th March and 31st March ‘Events’ projects are ongoing and will mean the workshop will be busier with booked events group’s taking priority to use the space.

April/May

Easter Opening and a period of Later opening hours will be confirmed soon in another post.

Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th April and Tuesday 2nd May – closed between 09.30 and 14.00. Open as normal each afternoon 14.00 – 16.30

Scott & Jim

Sculpting in Plaster – CiA student Sam Stone

This years ‘Continuity in Architecture’ field trip took the group to on of the oldest cities in Western Europe, Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Sam Stone has spent a good portion of his first semester studies experimenting in the workshop and describes his thought and working process for us.


Whilst visiting the city of Lisbon the notion of it’s craft is almost tangible, from the decorative wrought iron verandas to the tessellated azulejo tiles, the manual, hand made implications of making the city are evident throughout it.What impressed me most was the ostentatious display of skill in the stonemasonry work of the manueline architecture in an area of Lisbon named Belém. It intrigued me to understand the depth of knowledge and skill needed to create such profound displays of craftsmanship.

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My aim initially was to learn through making, as a direct response to my early research into the various crafts of Lisbon. I started with studies into the processes of stonemasonry (manueline style columns), mimicking the carving and chiseling of stone by using plaster as a more malleable material.Work started off tentatively and without prior experience of carving or sculpting I slowly tapped away at the block removing minimal material. After a while, confidence grew and I became more efficient, quicker and more clinical with my actions. Repetition meant a gradual understanding of the how the material breaks away, how hard to throw the hammer and which way to hold the chisel. What did take me six strikes, now took me one and material would come away precisely where intended, rather than too much or too little.

The resultant studies link back well to my interpretation of Lisbon as a crafted city, and I hope to transfer this knowledge into design/programme at a later stage.

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My first three outputs are studies into manueline style architectural elements in stone, each work advancing in difficulty, starting with a simple twisted flute column to a decorative rope knot. I gained a partial understanding of what it means to me to be a craftsman; having a true understanding of material, knowledge and economy of technique and most evidently, much practice and repetition.

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After gaining more confidence with the tools, the material and act of carving, I attempted to produce a concept model and 1:500 site model. I thought these early analytical studies and their method of production, along with site analysis could inform my approach to design later on.

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The concept model outlines my approach to design decisions on the site. The block is cast stone plaster with the landscape of the site ‘excavated’ by foam formwork. Protruding perspex rods under the lateral void describe the transient nature of the road that divides both sides of the site. A mahogany piece rests on the stepped landscape as an indicator of ‘place’ I wish to create in the void.

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The 1:500 site model was carved out topography from a casted block of pigmented plaster. The excavated, subtracted nature of the landscape suited this method of modelling. Faster methods could include using the CNC machine to mechanically remove material, or making an accurate mold. However, through manually carving away to reveal the site I grasped a deeper understanding of the varied topography and stepped character of the sloped landscape of the site. It also enabled me to interrogate the landscape closer.

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If I was to offer advice to anyone wanting to experiment with modelmaking in a similar way I’d say spend time to learn the particular craft or method, its great to learn a new skill and you could find out something unique about your abilities.

Don’t rush it, at times modelling requires close attention and care, mistakes can be difficult to amend (especially in painted plaster!). As always don’t hurry modelling, if you think the model making method could help inform your design decisions later, it’s worth being patient.

– Sam Stone Jan 2017

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It’s great that Sam decided to approach his studies in this ‘hands on’ way and especially that he took the time to really improve his understanding of the material. The commitment of time is always a big issue to working this way but in marrying his practical trial and error approach to making Sam has been able to balance other study commitments against the making craft he clearly enjoys.

– Scott

Belated Happy New Year! – A couple of updates

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  • At long last our flat-bed plotter is up and running in the new workspace at the back of the photographic studio. We are still learning the ropes ourselves but will shortly be listing basic drawing set up requirements on the CAD prep page so check back soon if you wish to use this machine.

Also worth noting that the machine will be used exclusively by first years on 23rd and 24th January as part of their papermetrics brief.

  • We’ll be making an announcement soon regarding this years end of year Modelmaking Awards so be sure to read up on that when we do.

That’s all for now. Much more soon!

Free 3D print file checker

Hi All,

The 3D print file checker we have been using for the last couple of years has been changed restricting the free usage and therefore is of little use to us at the costs involved!

At the recommendation of one of our 6th year students we have ran some tests using another provider which is available for free at www.makeprintable.com where you can sign up to upload your files for checking and conversion to .STL format if necessary.

Please consult our basic set up guidelines here when preparing your files.

See you soon, Scott & Jim

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