‘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.
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 email@example.com for further information about partnering with us.
B.15:ARCHITYPES exhibition was opened with a private view opening on Friday September 16th. The exhibition was opened by Dr Raymond Lucas who spoke about the role models play at the Manchester School of Architecture.
The exhibition is now open 9.00 – 16.30 Monday to Friday for the foreseeable future.
Watch the opening address here:
Thank you to everyone who has supported in donating their work and who came along to the private view event. In particular to Saul ‘Dr Magic’ Parker-Backhouse who had a hand in everything involved in the making.
Back in September we were invited to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations at Mecanoo’s head office in Delft, The Netherlands.
As part of the event we took the opportunity to pry into modelmaking theory and history there by speaking to long-standing Senior Modelmaker Henk Bouwer and Modelmaker Laurens Kistemaker.
The use of models is clearly a key ingredient to the design process here and will no doubt endure for another 30 years or more! We’ll be continuing our collaboration with Mecanoo in this years modelmaking award scheme. More on that soon.
“Everyone in the office uses models. Everyone produces models all the time. It’s the way the office designs and is an excellent designing tool. It’s been a philosophy of Normans right from the outset.”
“Its a constant battle to convince the teams to just let us build the difficult complex elements. Parts [are added] to sketch models or foam models. They work really well with hand built models. We try to avoid building big blocks of expensive material as it’s a terrible waste of the technology.”
– Gregor Anderson, In-House Rapid Prototyping Manager at Foster + Partners
As one of the most well known practices on the planet we were very pleased to welcome three representatives from Foster + Partners to present their insights as part of Modelmaking in the Digital Age.
Head of Modelmaking Neil Vandersteen introduced the presentation explaining and overview of the company and how modelmaking has proved a constant through changes and expansion. Ed Bartlet, Model shop CAD Support Manager explains the increased use of CAD as a starting medium that has come to begin almost all projects.
Integrating with other professions within the organisation is a common theme which continues with Gregor Anderson, Foster + Partners in-house Rapid Prototyping Manager. Gregor talks through the uses of RP and it’s integration the long established modelshop. With over 50 full time modelmaking staff at Foster + Partners there is little sign of this tool disappearing anytime soon.
“If you’re really involved in the design process and in fabrication process you can link both of these things and then students can see that everything is part of architecture. Everything is really as one. There is no segregation and that’s something that for us is really important”
In our fourth presentation of the day Dr Stavric of TU Graz brought an insight from architectural education in Austria. Dr Stavric presents a range of teaching techniques that revolve around making and the idea of un-concious learning when making.
There is an interesting argument here for the compulsory use of a foundation year of making and software learning before students are deemed skilled enough to advance to more advanced architectural briefs.
“As commercial modelmakers we look at all the options available to us to make sure that we’re making the best model for the client’s money. I think this is what makes modelmaking companies like ourselves a bit different than the generic 3d printing bureau who will just be pushing this one method.
When you come to a commercial modelmakers that does a lot of things under one roof they can advise you on the best way to do something rather than just saying this is the way to do it”
The profession of modelmaking exists outside of the walls of architecture in almost every creative field you can think of. Amalgam Modelmaking Ltd in Bristol prides itself on being able to take on as many of these projects as it can handle. James Smith, Head of Architectural Modelmaking at Amalgam, explains how the wide array of skills under one roof has helped them to meet commercial demands no matter what the requirement. James’ insight from the middle of Â the architect/client relationship is provides a facinating and often overlooked viewpoint of the process.
I’m not a trained modelmaker. I was a qualified Architect when I started and at first I felt a little like a fish out of water until I realised you could make models do whatever you want. It’s more like an art sometimes, especially when you’re working with concept models than an actual process of representation Ken Grix
In the second of our presentations from Modelmaking in the Digital Age in-house modelmaker and architect Ken Grix talks through his approach to modelmaking at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in Bath. The relationship between the studio and workshop environment is considered integral to the design process at FCB and Ken’s projects clearly convey this.
“We often, in a good way – don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t know what the possibilities may be which is why making a model can be very productive. […] They explore a journey. They tell us things that we didn’t necessarily know and we can get surprised sometimes by what’s produced. These are part of a narrative behind the design that becomes very very important.” – Professor Nick Dunn
Our first speaker at Modelmaking in the Digital Age was Professor Nick Dunn who currently works at ImaginationLancaster and was a former lecturer here at MSA. Professor Dunn opened the talks by explaining as he puts it ‘the archaeology of application’ of architectural models.
For those unsure about the origins and development of architectural models as tools Professor Dunn provides a fascinating insight here.
“Modelmaking is one of these core activities within architecture and it’s something that we often take for granted. It’s a key way of us actually exploring what it means for us to produce architecture” – Dr Raymond Lucas
On March 9th we hosted a day long symposium on the theme of Modelmaking within architecture and how its role has changed from the different perspectives in which it takes place. The presentations and debates from the day were recorded in full and we are pleased to able to present them here to all who were unable to attend or have an interest in the field.
The event was chaired by Head of Architecture at the University of Manchester Dr. Raymond Lucas who, in our first video explains the key areas in question.