Continuity in Architecture 1:500 Bollington Site model by Will Priest

Will recently completed this working site model of an area of Bollington made from a CNC routed block of Mahogany. Once the CNC job was completed will spend several hours hand finishing details such as the building footprints and road details.

It’s worth considering this aspect when using the CNC route for a wooden model. Even though the bulk of material is removed with the machine there is usually a considerable amount of finishing to be factored in.

Will Priest CNC (5)

“I required a site model to make massing and programme arrangement decisions in relation to the topography and trees on the site. I chose to use the CNC machine because unlike the laser cutter, it allowed me to get smooth contours at the 1:500 scale and as a result decisions could be made at the smaller scale.

Will Priest CNC (9)

It required considerable sanding to remove the CNC excavation lines. For this is started with a low grit sand paper slow working my way up to a fine grit. I used mahogany because it is a hardwood with an attractive grain which gave the model a material connection to the actual wooded site.

Will Priest CNC (16) Will Priest CNC (17)

The trees were an experiment in process. I wanted to recreate the densely wooded appearance on the site with varied tree types. For this I used a variety of modelling trees, brass wire and pieces of bush.”  Will Priest 2016

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Colwyn Bay Conservatorium 1:250 Massing Model by Kristian James

Continuity 5th year student Kristian James produced this 1:250 massing model to outline the existing jumbled mass of buildings enclosing his site. The final model form was refined after careful consideration for the role of the model in his project. As the massing was an indication of form rather than a detailed representation, hand crafted block forms were chosen over detailed engraved or printed inserted models.
Kristian summarised the project:
“Using a range of recycled hardwood timbers, I built a 1:250 site massing model which conveyed the different elements of the project. The natural aesthetic  properties of the timber were used to subtly suggest a difference in the design but also retained the desired rustic effect.
With this in mind, the model was left in its raw state and the time spent on the model was used towards create a high quality finish.
The CNC machine was also used to remove the road path from the site base.
During the build of this model, I spent a lot of time building elements using hand tools, which although may have taken longer, provided a far more accurate finish.
Unlike most models I have made in the past, I did not laser cut any components and therefore each element was bespoke and done by hand.
Although far more stressful, it was very rewarding and resulted in a product that was far more beautiful than anything I had created before of this size.
I would summarise by saying that a good model in my opinion should integrate both modern and traditional techniques!”
Kristian James (16) Kristian James (19) Kristian James (24) Kristian James (31)

Pavilion Development Continues

The development of the Dunham Massey Pavilions has been slowly progressing over the last two months with many different problems to overcome. Many of the original concepts have changed in scale and style whilst others have remained largely unchanged.

For Alexander Valakh and Lorena Chan the main problems have come from various material tolerances effect on their designs.

The group used the CNC router to cut plywood components for this phase of their design development. The original poppy concept that was made from cardboard and the riveted elements allowed a lot of flex. When applying the same ideas to a more durable and weather resistant material the same shapes could not be achieved. This is where 1:1 design development models come into use.To test the strength of each joint for their revised design the group decided to risk lorenas life lorena to the task. Luckily their design proved successful and despite a few oversights in fixing elements which can easily be rectified, the group can move on.

After the experimental first test in concrete casting, it was nesissary for this group to solve the issues of casting their numbers into each block. For their second attempt they tried using laser cut rubber components with a much smaller block to prevent material waste and save on weight.  Any mould is always worth considering in depth as a badly designed one will cause you a world of problems when you come to remove your cast. This box was simple but constructed well to allow easy disassembly once the cast has cured.  The finished block turned out well with the flex in the rubber numbers allowing for the expansion of the concrete as it sets. Laser cutting this material can prove time consuming and the number required may need to be outsourced due to demand on our machines from all Architecture Students. It is always worth considering outsourcing elements that need to be mass produced as if you are involved in a ‘real world’ project. Costs can often be lower and experienced companies will be able to offer you more specific advice on what you are trying to achieve at 1:1. We’ll be posting more on these project in the near future! 

Garden Pavilions Continued – Learning Curves and Problem Solving

Development of the 6th year pavilion projects is continuing at pace down in the workshop. Test models often bring assembly issues to the surface which Alexander Valakh, Lorena Chan and Nancy Chan have been finding with their concepts. This is exactly why these models play a vital role in design development.  Here Alex has created his outer skin from laser cut polypropylene plastic sheet fixed with pop rivets. This has proved tricky and mid way through assembly it became clear that a more uniform stapled fixing would have been more effective. Lorena and Nancy have spent the last few days fixing components for this concept together. The original concept was to have a smooth curved structure forming the tunnel walkway. As the components were fixed the group found that the curve was un-uniform due to the varying strain between components. Whilst this isn’t exactly how the concept was drawn it has still proved an interesting experiment and may still be taken to the next stage.

Pavilion Project (4)The concrete cast (below) has also had some teething problems with the cast numbers not turning out as refined as the group would have liked. This process will require more thought if it is to be taken forward. The group has found that their choice of aggregate or quantity used may be to blame for the irregular casting around the number details. One thing is for sure it wont be going too far given its weight despite having a polystyrene block inside to reduce the material used!

Garden Pavilions at Dunham Massey 2013

Much like the brief set this time last year students are currently in the concept stages of designing a series of pavilions to be constructed at 1:1 at Dunahm Massey (Read our blog post here). This project was challenging for both staff and students last year and really pushed the boundaries of what the workshops can handle.

This year the project is aiming to be more refined and, with support of workshop staff, come to an effective and ‘speed-bump’ free conclusion!

Alexander Valakh (Below) is working on several sketch models to help convey his project named ‘The Shadow of War’ to tutors in the hope it will be taken to the next stage of development.

To test his theory for eventual 1:1 construction Alex had produced a plywood sketch model in identical fashion to the full size proposal on our CNC. Producing this model has allowed Alex to explore problems he may encounter whilst using this method and has already identified several areas that will need more thought. These issues are not a hindrance to the design process but feed into it and shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time. problem solving through trial and error models are often the best way of refining a design for production.

This group is also producing another concept pavilion using paper to create the sketch model. The flower-like components are created and joined using pop rivets which will eventually form a curved canopy. 

Another (!) concept from the same group involves casting concrete blocks as part of a wall sculpture. This is part of the same brief but is less interactive due to the nature of the proposed site. This was poured yesterday afternoon and is still setting so we’ll hopefully have some more pictures of how that is progressing by the end of the week.


Mayfield Redevelopment, Joseph Hamblin

Josephs description of his project:

My initial place/non-place study of mayfield highlighted the temporality of these ideas. To me mayfield was an area made up of and defined by working relationships, it is fragmented from its urban context and the activities on site work around one another rather than with one another. I wanted to create a unifying vision which responded to the existing urban condition and tied the fragmented territory together. My project brings ideas of knowledge exchange and open source information together to create a platform for innovation on both a personal and corporate scale.

It seemed very fitting for Joseph to use 3D printing to convey his ideas in his model. The idea behind his site redevelopment was that individual business units can be extended or reduced by simply adding or removing sections. New units would be created on site and moved into place using a rail system.

3D printing also lent itself to the mechanical side of the design, allowing moving components such as wheels and the rotating walkways.

In keeping with the new meets old theme on Joseph’s site he decided to keep the reclaimed piece of teak ‘as was’ with its scratched paint and chipped surface. This works really well in creating contrast and makes for a really nice object aside from its relevance to the design concept.

Joseph Hamblin.jpg 3 All Photographs shown here are taken from Joseph’s web page. Click here to see more.

‘Exchange Parade Theatre’ Context Model, Rachel Jenkins

Just completed design development model, this 1:500 context model aims to show how this proposed theatre design will sit within what is currently an urban car parking space. The model includes subterranean levels and roadways that make up the different site levels. At this stage the model can be disassembled to allow for possible design changes to be discussed with Rachel’s tutors.

CHIME Project

A group 2nd year BA (Hons) Architecture students recently completed a series of large scale installation pieces now on display at Dunham Massey. Many of the components were manufactured in our workshop using our CNC Router.

For more info on this project go to their homepage: