Opening Dates between now and June

Easter Break

Closed Friday 30th March – Reopening Monday 9th April

Events Weeks

Pre-Arranged Events groups only between 19th April – 2nd May

Late Opening Dates

Between Monday 30th April and June 1st 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

 Jim, Scott & Pip

SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Awards 2018

We are very happy to announce this years student modelmaking awards will be sponsored by SimpsonHaugh. Following on from our previous successes with recognising modelmaking at MSA this year we hope to further push students to be confident of their ideas through modelmaking.

Awards are open to BA 3rd year and both 5th and 6th year of MArch and will be awarded as 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for BA & MArch MSA students.

Kristin Mishra, Model shop manager at SimpsonHaugh:

“We’re looking for students who demonstrate an understanding of the intrinsic link between drawings and models with appropriate use of scale and materials thus reflecting any architects need to think in both two and three dimensions.

Students should also address the factors that affect whether a model is made or not, build approach, time frame for delivery, and material costs.

At SimpsonHaugh we use physical models to explore and generate ideas, resolve and refine building proposals, communicate our design intent.  Models are especially useful in meetings and presentations. While sketch models quickly become obsolete, they document our design process – one approach didn’t work, so we tried another. We aim to help students understand that a model doesn’t have to be advanced to be of value. A simple model is as useful as a quick sketch, helping to understand three dimensional space in a way no other medium can.”

With this in mind students should be aware that these awards are not given for just one output but for an individuals application and or execution of a model or models in conjunction with their other design work.

Candidates will be notified of their nominations in the coming months before a final shortlist is chosen. All awards will be judged and presented by by MSA and SimpsonHaugh at this years end of year show opening on June 8th.

Awards Launch open office event

To mark the official launch of this years awards in collaboration with SimpsonHaugh there will be an introduction and open office event taking place on March 20th at 17.00. There will be a short presentation about this years awards scheme followed by a chance to, see the office/workshop, ask questions and network with SH staff.

>>>>>    Click here to register your place at the event.    <<<<<

Entry to this event is strictly limited and exclusive to MSA.

Sign up early to ensure your place!

SimpsonHaugh at B.15

Over the coming months there will be a number of dates where Kristin Mishra, Modelshop Manager at SH will be present at the workshop to offer advice and observe work in progress. This is a great opportunity to speak to a modelmaker who can offer a wealth of experience from her years of modelmaking in practice so is not to be missed. These dates will be confirmed soon and posted to Moodle so be sure to take advantage.

Find out more about SimpsonHaugh here:


‘Architecture and Media’ Project by 2nd year student Tom Cooper

The 2nd years ‘Architecture And…’ project for humanities requires a 3 minute video to be produced exploring architecture and a contrasting element.
My group choose Architecture and Media, as we thought showing this through a video is quite appropriate and the possibilities to explore this topic are vast and interesting to us, and hopefully others too.
My group; myself, Paúl Cedillo, and Carl Fletcher all wanted to produce a compelling and interesting video, leading us to choose one of the forms of media to be the physical model. And with the Benzie/Chatham being our building of focus by choice, Paúl Cedillo made a 3D model of it on AutoCAD to be 3D printed using the powder printer.

We choose this method as it provided us with the high detail we wanted in the tight and busy time frame we had. We first wanted a 1:250 scale model but realised the 3D printing bed restricted us, but not as much as the cost even with hollow interiors. However, 1:500 was too small of a scale as we would lose detail in the windows and more. We printed three test walls at 1:250, 1:350 and 1:500 to compare the quality, and this caused us to go for an unconventional 1:350 scale to achieve the detail and cost we were happy with. This print was then super glue covered for strength and attached to a laser cut MDF street base. –Tom Cooper, 2nd year BA (Hons) Architecture

‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ documentary film project taster


‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ is a documentary film project that follows the people, practice and process of learning through making at Manchester School of Architecture.

What place is there for physical hand-crafted models in the increasingly digital realm of modern architecture? How does challenging students to look beyond the screen and ‘get their hands dirty’ inform their understanding of and relationship with the structures they are conceiving?

This film aims to explore how these young architects tackle the various stages of model-making as they grapple with materials, moulds and machines and ultimately reveal the ways in which the models, in turn, inform their individual growth and understanding.

The theme of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale; ‘Free Space’ is presented clearly through ‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ giving a unique insight into a space where the next generation of architects are free to experiment, test, fail, learn and grow in their craft and knowledge.

Project Sponsorship

We are currently seeking sponsors to support the project and participate at the Venice Biennale 2018 and welcome any interested parties who might wish to be associated with this truly global architecture exhibition.
Please contact for further information about partnering with us.

Atelier La Juntana Modelmaking Summer school 2018 – MSA Exclusive Week July 10-16

Following the success of last years MSA exclusive week at Atelier La Juntana 2017 the team can confirm that there will be another MSA exclusive week taking place this July between 10th and 16th. This week long course in the North of Spain is highly recommended and will introduce you to a number of different making techniques along with outlining the theory behind their use.

A video summary of last years course shows it’s contents in more detail:

Students from BA Year 1/2 and MArch year 5 are elegible to apply. For full course information click here to download the full course brochure.

Please contact stating your interest and year of study for further information.

Sign up whilst you still can!

Scott & Jim


Jesmonite Casting

Jesmonite is a gypsum based composite that when mixed with an acrylic polymer, cures as a solid form with a plaster-like appearance. The original product was developed in the UK in 1984 as a safer alternative to fibreglass. It has numerous applications in full scale architecture and across the creative industry.

Why use Jesmonite?

  • Stronger than plaster and more impact resistant
  • Replicates fine details from the mould with less chance of breaking
  • Easily mixed with different colours
  • Quick drying. Casts can be de-moulded within short space of time. Full cure/strength takes 24 hours.
  • Solvent Free meaning less harmful to the environment and safe for use inside the workshop or studio environment.

As students of architecture Jesmonite offers you the same advantages as full scale building application giving it uses at a wide range of modelling scales and types.

After using it at Atelier La Juntana Summer School we thought we’d have a few experiments ourselves. Mixing at the standard ratio of 2.5:1 we have carried out several tests demonstrating how pigments can be added to create varied effects depending on your requirement. Whilst we currently hold a limited stock of the standard AC100 Jesmonite, it is readily available from 4D with your student discount.















Marble, Stone and Granite, Terracotta red brick and Concrete effects are easily achieved by mixing in paints, lacquers or different aggregate types such as sand. Metal effects can also be achieved using metal powders.

A really great and safe to use casting product – get casting!


Exhibition: ‘Atelier La Juntana: A Modelmaking Summer School’

MSA Students who took part in the summer school ‘Atelier La Juntana: Modelmaking in the Digital Age’ will present their work from 1st to 8th December.

The exhibition will present the various process studies accomplished over the week long course. Processes include: Wood Carving, Mould Making, Multiple Material Casting, Clay Tile Sculpting, Etching, Engraving and Screen Printing.

Atelier La Juntana: A Modelmaking Summer School

1st to 8th December
Grosvenor Gallery,
MMU School of Art.

Opening event with Atelier La Juntana Founder Armor Gutierrez Rivas taking place 1st December 16.00 – 18.00.

Quick New Materials Update

Hi All,

We’ve just taken delivery of a few new materials to try out. These will just be whilst this initial stock lasts but if they’re popular we’ll consider adding them to the regular stock afterwards. Please let us know what you think about this when you’re in.

Balsa wood sheets 3x500x300mm £5.50 each – These sheets can be hand cut or laser cut if required.

Anodised Aluminium Sheets 1x500x250mm – These metal sheets can be engraved using the laser cutter but not cut. Within reason we can cut these to size using the bandsaw. Please ask us about this for more information.

Available in Aluminium £24 – Black £17 – Red £24

Mirrored Acrylic 3x300x200mm – We have had mirrored acrylic for some time but gold and red options are new samples. Available in Gold, Silver, Red £8 each If popular we can order larger sheets.

New Reference Book:

Architectural Monographs No 23 Morphosis: Connected Isolation Academy Editions 1993

This great monologues book is full of beautifully intricate models from Morphosis Architects. What is worth reminding yourself when looking through this one is that this book is a culmination of works that was first published in 1993 – long before computers and CAD making were commonplace. This work is truly hand crafted and gives many modern day modelmaking projects a run for their money. Full of great inspiration. Find it with our other reference books for use in the workshop only please.

Design Process: The value of failure before success

Back in June there was much to be celebrated at the end of year show where many MSA students revealed their hard work to eager practice and public visitors. Part of the popular launch is the prize giving ceremony where students are selected for their prowess in specific areas of study. Drawing, Team-work, Innovation, Sketchbook, Academic and Visual achievement awards have been permanent fixtures at the school for many years. A more recent addition to this list is our own: The B.15 Modelmaking awards sponsored by Mecanoo.
For the past three years Netherlands based architects Mecanoo have generously supported our desire to celebrate the use of models within architectural design. The awards consider not just a single piece of work but each individuals attitude and approach to using physical models as a vehicle to advance the understanding of their design to both themselves and to others.

This has helped to stimulate an improved output in terms of typology and quality of the models produced across all years of study. This year highlighted that with the number of long-listed projects proving difficult to cut down. Seeing these projects develop over the academic year put us as technicians in a good position to see not only the physical changes in terms of the work but in each individuals attitudes to the idea of making in design and how its correct use can serve to inform key design decisions along the way.
I decided to write this article to highlight a particular case in which a student initially struggled to grasp the idea of experimentation before settling on the most appropriate way forward with their work. The student won this years’ MArch first prize for his use of modelmaking. A prize which was well deserved and from our perspective a pleasure to award given the steep learning curve and effective turnaround that was made over the last two years of study.

James Donegan was one of the lucky few who managed to get selected to take part in the Material Application workshop that took place at the start of 2016. The main aims for this workshop were to encourage the use of testing in order for each student to better understand the processes they were looking at. Put simply, the high value was placed in seeing the mistakes made and not just in the analysis of a finished piece. James aimed to cast a staircase detail in plaster. I asked James to recount the experience:

“I spent too much time working on the computer and setting up cut files without really doing any research into the casting process and consequently, I ran into many hurdles and had to abandon the process all together. Although the project ultimately failed, the experience taught me the value of testing and sampling before any commitment.”

Despite having initial struggles to get his models to flow smoothly within his project it was clear from the technicians perspective that something was shifting in James’ approach.

“I started to realise the process between translating a digital model into a physical one isn’t always easy, especially if you’re trying out something new. Even before I have a clear concept for a model, I would get into the workshop as early possible and start testing ideas which would feed back to inform my designs as well as the making process.”






James’ outputs clearly grew and the content became much more varied and refined through constant testing. This was a notable change from his initial approaches which were driven entirely by computer manipulation.

So what tips would James offer to anyone wanting to make or improve the use of models within their design work?

“Always consult the technicians before starting on a process you’re not familiar with. It will save you a lot of time. If you can, get the basic modelmaking done at home – it’ll mean you can take full advantage of the facilities during the B.15 opening hours. Try to limit dependency on the popular machines like the laser cutter – a lot of the work people use it for can be done by hand and it usually looks better. Experiment and don’t let failure discourage you – its progress.”






James is now working locally at Tim Groom Architects. We wish him the best of luck for his future career.

Thanks to James Donegan for sharing this thoughts and recollections.