About the SEED B.15 Workshop Facilities

The SEED B.15 Workshop caters for students from the Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) – a shared school across the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. We offer facilities and advice for the production of scale development and presentation models for use in student projects. The workshop offers state of the art digital fabrication technology alongside core traditional manufacturing techniques.

We aim to continually develop our facility to remain in line with industry standards and equip our students with a good understanding of contemporary and traditional approaches to making.

As well as our main function toward MSA we offer consultancy work to the wider university and are regularly involved in projects across campus.



Jim Backhouse, Senior Modelmaking Workshop Technician
Scott Miller, Modelmaking Workshop Technician

Short History of B.15

The workshop in its current location has been providing modelmaking advice and facilities to Architecture, Planning and Landscape students since its completion in 1970. Whilst technology has evolved since then, the workshop has always played a key role in the study of Architecture at Manchester. Originally part of the University of Manchester, the school merged with Manchester Metropolitan University Architecture Course in 1996 to form MSA.

The School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) workshop is located in the basement room B.15 of the Humanities building off Bridgeford Street on the University of Manchester Oxford Road campus.




B.15 Modelmaking Workshop
Humanities Bridgeford Street
University of Manchester
Oxford Road

Telephone: 0161 275 6876 or 0161 275 6853

Please note that due to the nature of our role we are very rarely at a desk to answer phone calls so leave a message and we will try to get back to you. Urgent contact can be made through the university switchboard directly to our workshop but we recommend either of the following e-mail addresses.

Email: Jim.Backhouse@manchester.ac.uk or Scott.Miller@manchester.ac.uk

Please note that CAD bookings can only be made in person although you are welcome to get in touch about machine availability or with and other questions.

Current General Opening Times

Monday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Tuesday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Wednesday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Thursday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Friday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Saturday/Sunday: Closed

Any workshop users or visitors must first sign in and collect an apron and safety goggles from the coat space to the right of the main entrance.

The workshop can facilitate a maximum of 20 Students at any one time.

Safety glasses and aprons must be worn at ALL times on entering this workshop. If you are unsure of anything regarding the use of Machines or Hand Tools do not hesitate to ask a member of technical staff for assistence. DO NOT attempt to use any machine unless you have completed an induction beforehand.

Workshop Machines and Tools

The Workshop is equipped with the following for use by undergraduate and postgraduate research students:

  • Hand Tools
  • Power Tools such as Drills, Routers and Hand Sanders
  • Two Bandsaws
  • Pillar Drill with Milling Bed
  • Belt Sander
  • Bobbin Sander
  • Two Disc Sanders
  • Fretsaw
  • Strip Wire Heater

CAD driven machinery:

  • CNC Router
  • Two Laser Cutters
  • 3D ABS Resin Printer
  • 3D Powder Printers
  • 3D Resin Printer
  • Flatbed Plotter/Cutter

Should you wish to use any of the above machines please ask a member of technical staff before proceeding as booking an file set up is required.

The following machines are strictly for use by TRAINED STAFF ONLY:

  • Circular Saw
  • Two Compound Mitre Saws
  • Thickness Planer
  • Lathe
  • Polishing Wheel
  • Grinder

Should you wish to use any of the above machines please ask a member of technical staff.

Photographic Studio

B.15 has its own photography facility for documentation of work produced in our workshop and the school. This includes backdrops and LED Lighting. This equipment can only be used after being inducted by one of the workshop staff. It is advised that you check ahead if you wish to use this space and equipment. and follow these simple rules:

Please only use the studio to document your work and not for modelmaking. We are trying to maintain a clean environment for model display here. Any assembly or processes should remain strictly in the workshop space.

Please do not move or touch any work being stored in the room as this is either current project work or part of the University Heritage collection dating back nearly 45 years.

Please do not congregate in groups in the studio as their is little free space in the room and the potential for damage of work is fairly high. 

Once you are finished using the facility please let one of us know so we can ensure it is locked and tidy.


Recent Posts

Modelling with Planning – 1:20 Detail Case Study

During the last academic year 5th year MSAp Group undertook a 1:20 detail study project to explore the relationship across a threshold junction between old and new. The Project was a great success and provides a great example of a well organised and applied use of modelmaking. A big thanks to the group who kindly responded to some questions we put to them as follows.

This model was a 1:20 sectional detail showing a threshold junction of a semi-detached house, displaying how a new annex (porch) module meets the old, non-traditional construction of a 1920s house.

Our aim was to use materials that would be close representations of the materiality applied in the construction of old to new. When planning materials, process and overall time management of the model, we created a ‘strategic planning matrix’ (below), identifying the proposed material, dimension, sourcing of material and costs (filled as we went along). The planning and sourcing of materials helped organise our time efficiently. We divided model-making processes into two parts, making components and assembly. The overall experience expanded our model-making skills, introducing many of us to new forms/ways of making.

To enable efficient team working under the time constraints of the workshop opening hours, we clarified roles and tasks daily. This helped us manage the workload and distribute tasks of the our project accordingly, therefore not all group members were always working on the model in the workshop, but on other areas of the project. A continuous level of effective communication enabled all our team members to work productively. This gave us the opportunity to explore a trial and error approach whilst making certain components, in particular when moulding and casting. It took a few attempts to get components to the ambitious standard we were aiming for.


As a group, we began planning the model with plenty of time ahead of deadline to ensure room for error, which proved useful during the assembly period. Collectively, we have broadened our model-making abilities/skills, and we were able to add a fine level of detail to the model, adhering to the high standard we set for ourselves, and a level of sophistication.

Overall, we gave ourselves enough time to plan, consider and make – planning and organisation became a very enjoyable task in itself and we were able to take on skills in professional practice which we hope will be applicable to working in a team in the future.

-Meera Lad, Abi Patel, Sean Martin, Danny McBride, Joe Stancer, Jack Williamson. 2018


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