Architectural Modelmaking, Design Development, Bespoke Design & Construction. Part of The University of Manchester (SEED School of Environment, Education and Development) Part of the Manchester School of Architecture
“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.
Just a quick message to everyone who came to speak and helped us make yesterday’s symposium event possible. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and everyone was extremely positive about our approach to modelmaking and it’s future in architecture.
In all we had 90+ registered guests from a variety of backgrounds all with a shared interest of the subject. Thank you for all your support, it means a lot.
The event was full of interesting presentations and discussions that we are hopeful will lead to further expansion and future events orientated around the subject of how we use models in architecture.
We will be uploading footage of the event for those who missed it in the coming months so stay tuned for those.
Many thanks to all again – we can’t thank you enough!
We are very pleased to announce that our own Dr Raymond Lucas will be our chair speaker for ‘Modelmaking in the Digital Age‘ taking place on March 9th. Ray will be introducing and overseeing the converse of our day to help get the insights we all want to get from our fantastic group of visiting speakers.
Dr Lucas has recently been appointed as Head of Architecture in Humanities at the University of Manchester and as such will have a close relationship with our workshop activities in future.
Dr Lucas describes he teaching role as part of Manchester School of Architecture:
I teachÂ in the Manchester School of Architecture in a variety of roles. Â
In the recent past, this has included teaching in studio and coordinating the humanities for the undergraduate BA in Architecture. Â I have worked closely with colleagues across institutions in developing the humanities curriculum, teaching and coordinating the following courses: Architectural History: Epochs; Architectural History: Paradigms; Architecture & Observation/Graphic Anthropology; Agenda Building; World Urbanism. Â Further to this, I have taught in the postgraduate studios Continuity in Architecture and Intimate Cities and supervised a number of postgraduate dissertations.
The teaching ethos of humanities in MSA is important, and involves a close integration of the various humanities disciplines with design studio. Â Humanities in architecture is relevant to the process of design, be that in determining the survey and understanding of a site; understanding the context of a place, typology, practice or material; or as precedents which can inform today’s architectural practice. Â The second part of this teaching ethos is to deliver current research to students as much as possible. Â Whilst maintaining the structure of a foundation in architectural history and theory, it is important to move beyond the classicist surveys of the past and to exploit the wide range of contemporary research being conducted in Manchester School of Architecture both within MARC and our MMU colleagues.
As one of the biggest architectural practices in the world, this presentation from Foster + Partners will add an insight into the ever present use of architectural modelmaking in projects taking place worldwide.
Additional speakers from Foster + Partners will be:
Gregor Anderson, Associate Partner at Foster + Partners and manager of the in-house Rapid Prototyping Facility. Gregor studied at the Royal College Of Art where he focused his research on all forms of digital manufacturing. On graduating, he was a key member in the development of Rapidform, the RCAâ€™s in house additive manufacturing unit. In 2008 he moved to UCL to set up and run The Digital Manufacturing Centre in the Bartlett School of Architecture, before joining Foster + Partners in 2011.
Ed Bartlett, Associate and Modelshop CAD Support Manager at Foster + Partners. Ed joined the practice in 2008 after graduating from the Arts University Bournemouth, where he studied Modelmaking for Design and Media, specialising in computer-aided design. He now heads up a team of CAD specialists within the practice, working on a wide variety of projects around the world.