‘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 scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk 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 atelierlajuntana@gmail.com 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.


Workshop opening/closure times over the new few weeks

Hi All,
Please take note of the following dates where opening times vary due to inductions/lectures:
  • Wednesday 27th September Open 14.00 – 16.30
  • Thursday 28th September MArch Inductions. Closed All Day.
  • Friday 29th September Open from 11.30 – 16.30 (Lunch hour as normal 13.00-14.00)
  • Thursday 5th October MA Inductions. Open from 12.00 – 16.30 (Lunch hour as normal 13.00-14.00)
  • Friday 6th October BA Inductions. Closed All Day.
  • Monday 9th October 3rd Year Intro. Open 09.30 – 15.00 (Lunch hour as normal 13.00-14.00)
  • Wednesday 11th October First Year Intro. Open 10.30 – 16.30
Should there be any other induction dates that arise I’ll add to this post.

Free Postage and Student discounts at 4D Modelshop for MSA Students


Hi all,

You may or may not be aware of the company 4D Modelshop who provide some of the materials and equipment we have here at the workshop and are usually present at any of our inductions.

As part of this years inductions they are offering some of our recommended basic tools and consumables at discounted prices and FREE postage to B.15 workshop on all orders made before 29th October.

Once we receive any orders I’ll contact you via email.

Hope this is of some money saving use,


Welcome Back to 2017-18 at B.15

Welcome back to the new academic year!

Over the next few weeks things will be picking up starting with the induction of all newcomers in 1st year followed by some returning and some new students in 5th year MArch.

The dates for these are Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th September for BA inductions, Thursday 28th September for MArch. During these days access to all other years will be restricted.

What’s New at B.15 this year? 

OBJET 30PRO 3D Printer

Over the summer we have installed a new type of 3D printer called a Stratasys Objet30Pro. This machine uses thin layers (28 microns) of resin to build objects which are supported by a jelly-like support material. Advantages of this machine are the fine layering which offers higher resolution prints, the ability to produce models in clear resin and the water soluble support material which is removed safely using a water jet system. Unfortunately this comes at a cost and the resin/support used is pricey indeed! It will be some time before the full extent of this machines capabilities are understood for our use so bare with us whilst we learn with you.

As with the other types of 3D printer the cost varies depending on the model. The exact cost in ml. of material to be confirmed but it’s likely to be the most expensive of the 3D printing options we have in B.15.

We intend to use this machine for specifically clear component requirements using Clear Resin called VeroClear. The outputs are clear but may require polishing to achieve a completely clear finish.

Reference Books

We have a few new additions to the B.15 reference Library as described below.

Model Perspectives: Structure, Architecture and Culture by Mark R. Cruvellier, Bjorn N. Sandaker and Luben Di, 2017

This brand new book presents a wide selection of case studies focussing in particular on structures and construction systems within building design. Each case study features a detailed overview essay and is accompanied by large prints of physical models that have been produced as part of each project. Some really great examples shown here – well worth a read.

supersurfaces: Folding as a method of generating forms for architecture, products and fashion by Sophia Vyzoviti, 2006

Folding Architecture: Spatial, Structural and Organizational Diagrams by Sophia Vyzoviti, 2003

Both of these pocket books by Sophia Vyzoviti provide a theoretical introduction to folding in design before presenting examples of folding techniques as the outputs of physical ‘paperfold’ algorithms. All featured work comes from within the context of architectural education and thus provides a great benchmark selection of works from you to take inspiration from. Great source material to get you started making sketch models.



Workshop Merchandise

We have recently had some workshop merchandise made up due to popular demand which is available to purchase in the workshop using the same payment system as the materials store.









Cotton Tote Bags with B.15 and new MSA branding and enamelled steel mugs (No drinking in the workshop people!) featuring the B.15 Logo are for sale both at £6 each with all money going straight back to the materials budget. There also is a T-shirt in development which we hope to have available soon. More information on that soon.

Materials Stock and Online Store Payments

There is no change to the payment system for materials and service payments this year. The full up to date materials list can be found here along with the link to the online store. We’d also like to remind everyone that payments should only be made after the materials have been issued to you as stock is variable and some items may not be available. Whilst we make an effort to keep things fully stocked at all times this is sometimes not possible therefore please remember that the materials list is a guide for your model design not a guarantee it is in stock all the time.  Always come to the workshop and find either of us to enquire and make payments rather than  making them from elsewhere.

Upcoming Exhibition 

Following on from Atelier La Juntana Summer school back in July we hope to exhibit the work produced sometime in the coming months so look out for that happening. We’ll post updates regarding that on here and moodle.

Social media

If you haven’t already don’t forget to  follow us on Instagram and Twitter @b15workshop where we regularly promote student work and ongoings in the workshop.









That’s all for now, See you soon!

Scott & Jim


Atelier La Juntana Summer School July 2017

Between 19th and 25th July a group of 14 MSA students and B.15 took part in ‘Modelmaking in the Digital Age’ Summer school in the North of Spain. Atelier La Juntana has been run for several years by Architect brothers Armor and Nertos Gutierrez Rivas along with their father, Daniel Gutierrez Adan. This is the first time the course has been held exclusively for a single institution.

The course is designed to encourage individuals to investigate different materials and processes and in turn open them up the possibilities within craft for their presentations. This is not a course about conclusions but about the journey of exploration and how we should each take more time to appreciate the hand crafted approach in our work.

Throughout the week students explored the following, each involving many sub processes:

Silicone Mould Making, Resin Casting, Jesmonite Casting, Casting with Pigments, Plaster Mould Making and Casting, Clay Tile Sculpting and Replication, Sand box Moulding, Casting Aluminium, Photo Etching on Zinc Plates, Hard Etching on Zinc Plates, Press Printing, Paper Embossing, Screen Making and Screen Printing on Fabrics.

All students took part in these activities getting to know much more about each process and it application as well as building great social links with each other. Outside of the workshop the group were taken on a tour of the surrounding area of the Liencres nature reserve and also of Santander. The tour took in the cities Cathedral and other architectural landmarks before visiting the ‘Arte Y Architecture’ exhibition which featured work from previous workshops.In addition to the practical tasks undertaken each day there were introductory lectures explaining each process and its application as well as a lecture from Croatian architect Rosa Rogina who presented some of her work which has used modelmaking to help convey important human messages looking at the rebuilding of a coral reef and also about the impact of land mines across former war zones.










The workshop culminated with a display of the outcomes from the across the week with each students explaining the process undertaken. Students were then given a diploma for their achievements before helping to put together a celebratory BBQ in the workshop garden.
































We would like to thank everyone at Atelier La Juntana for making us all feel so welcome and putting on such a fantastic week for us all. In addition to that we would like to thank everybody who took part in this experience for making the trip over and getting involve. We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did and look forward to seeing the skills being used in your future projects!

It is hoped that the work will be put on display in the coming months here at Manchester School of Architecture and that Armor will be present to speak about the experience.

Look out for updates about this and future workshops! Find out more about Atelier La Juntana here.