‘Urban Mining: The St. Johns Quarter’ 1:100 & 1:50 Models by Daniel Kempski

5th Year MA student Daniel Kempski came to the workshop fairly late on in his project with a need to convey multiple aspects of his design proposals through model making. Having successfully completed his two projects and some valuble lessons learnt. Of particular note was the time consuming engraving and cutting of the cork elements. The results of this were fantastic but it should be noted that this can be very time consuming and therefore potentially costly in terms of laser cutting time. We asked if Daniel would write us a piece to accompany some images of his models – he responded in great detail!

We look forward to seeing some more of Daniels projects next year.

The full description of the project and the application of the models made with us is explained here:

“The culture of use:reuse within the construction industry is an emerging area of importance within the field – with firms being placed under increasing scrutiny to change their methods building demolition and deconstruction in order to evolve to meet the growing demands of waste management. It is key to address this issue parallel to the growing dereliction within our cities – with many buildings being demolished once being deemed unusable.

How this can be linked to programme arrives through the notion of an Urban Auction House: a place where individuals can bring their waste materials (arriving as deconstructed elements) and then be further sold to buyers who can make use of these products.

The scheme acts as a hub for all types of individuals within the construction industry. It tries to establish an even playing field for its users, with products being available at a reduced price due to their imperfect nature – enabling the customer to be able to purchase construction materials at a cheaper rate, seeking to reduce the current gap between small and large scale developers within the market.

The aim of the design is to maximise retention of the existing building (Albert Warehouse), while not constraining myself to remain within the existing structures parameters and potentially harming the programmatic outputs. I aimed to change and manipulate these aspects of the existing form that I felt did not fulfil its true architectural potential.

An entire new central bay is established between two existing segments of the build – enabling a more focused entrance point to be generated – recessed back from the roadside, with an element of grandeur created through the staggered, vaulted stonework.

1.100 model (10)

I feel it was key to investigate the building in two different scale models: a 1:100 Section through the scheme in order to understand the internal workings programmatically; and a 1:50 Bay Study to investigate the materiality and light qualities.

1:100 Model

One of the more demanding changes to the existing structure arrives in the form of the central bay being deconstructed and replaced by a primary structure primarily formed by reclaimed stonework sourced from Quay House (one of the four Urban Mines). It was vital to interject a new, more accessible entrance to the building for the main visitors entrance in order to establish a focal point for the east facade (for sake of both functionality and aesthetics).

Recessing the entrance away from the pavement provides a much needed forecourt, reinforcing this new change of threshold through vaulted stonework encapsulating the individual as they proceed to enter the Auction House.

1.100 model (11)

The Auction Hall is embodied within a double-height space, overlooking the River Irwell – creating the sense of theatre to be instilled upon the individual, with grand, exposed structure and a resonating acoustic acting as key protagonists. A raised platform further enables individuals to spectate during the auctions.

In contrast, the Lower Ground Floor functions as a back-of-house storage and preparation area. The workers gather and move the materials during their journey within the Auction House.

1.100 model (15)

1:50 Model

In order to gain a practical understanding of the atmosphere generated by the materials reprogrammed into southern elevation’s perforated brickwork facade,a scaled 1:50 model was constructed. The aim of the model was to investigate the internal light qualities predominantly, to ensure that the transitional space could not be deemed unwelcoming.

The model was also generated to create a built example of a key bay detail that repeats several times along that facade. The proportion between punctured brickwork and the actual structural masonry is key to enable the maximum introduction of natural light, while retaining structural integrity. The light qualities within the transitional spaces are key towards ensuring the success of the internal programme of the building – circulation spaces are there to offer relief in order to create a sense of separation between the Auction House and Galleries.

The large, double height spaces allow natural light to arrive from both the VSCs and punctured brick facade, allowing the central exhibition pieces to have their qualities maximised, as well as the space itself.

1.50 model (5)

Making the Models

It was key to establish distinguishing characteristics between each of the materials used, as the scheme revolves purely around material reclamation (both architecturally and programmatically) It was vital to represent materials under same semantic in the building specification, as the same material choice in the model – enabling an easy understanding of the intended material discourse: e.g. obvious differentiation between stonework, timber, masonry, etc.

I felt it was key not to oversaturate the models with materials, instead working with three or four strong materials that work complementary to each other provided end products that felt cohesive.

1.100 model (9)

Within the 1:100 sectional model it was key to establish a strong juxtaposition of materials in order to depict what elements of the build are retained and newly interjected. This is attempted by utilising 3D printed elements to narrate the qualities of the proposed stonework bay, with the etched 3mm plywood representing part of the retained masonry bay.

1.100 model dan kempski (18)1.100 model dan kempski (12)1.100 model dan kempski (1)1.50 model (4)

For the 1:50 bay study, 3mm cork board was used as the primary component to replicate the texture and ultimate aesthetic of the masonry – this was to ensure that minimal finishes had to be applied to the already delicate nature of the perforation post-cutting, providing the facade with a more natural demeanour.

1.50 model dan kempski (9)

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Plaster-casts were made in order to distinguish a level of material separation within the space – focusing primarily between what is stonework and what is masonry. Both materials are reused, as recognised within the programme of the build, and thus is was key to attempt to create a more textured, used finish – achieved by placing a larger build-up of petroleum jelly within the moulds, creating a more textured finish.

Through the process of making both of these models, I feel that a greater understanding has been generated towards the atmosphere created within a building through the interrelationship of materials used within. It is far too easy to remain focused upon the external qualities of a site – and have that overshadow the internal conditions.

Combining both digital fabrication and hand crafted elements provides the ability to work efficiently and precisely, without generating a too-clean portrayal of the scheme. Regardless of the desired atmosphere within the build, I feel it is key to always develop your model-making understanding and techniques; with many components that could be made incredibly easily by hand, are now subject to digital methods due to sake of ease.”

1.50 model dan kempski (12)

1.50 model dan kempski (11)

1:1 ‘Green’ Facade detail by Alexandros Pavlides

As part of his ‘Sensory Markets’ project Alex Pavlides has created a 1:1 section of brick wall to display a possible facade detail providing an organic coat to existing brick walls in Manchester. 1.1 Facade Detail (1)The approach to recreating the brick wall was much like that of Polys Christofi’s project last year but focussed on a much smaller area for the detail. Bricks were made using plaster casts from vac-formed moulds before being painted to resemble red brick and then pointed like a full scale wall. 1.1 Facade Detail (6) Details of the intervention were made up using laser cut acrylic bases, abs tubing and threaded rob before being sprayed silver to represent the intended metal finish of the mountings. The detail mounts were then fixed to the ‘wall’ and mesh was added to the ends creating an elevated platform to encourage plant growth in front of the wall. The mesh was then secured using washers and bolts. 1.1 Facade Detail (8) Alex describes his approach to the project:

“I’ve tried [to] introduce an intervention that makes the alleys memorable to the people by making the alleys acting as “landmarks” in the city. The intervention is about applying moss on different surfaces in the alleyways and create architecture from moss. I designed an external skin of the brick walls made of steel wire mesh and the moss will be applied on the mesh at different points of the city. “

1.1 Facade Detail (15)Alex is currently working on getting moss to grow on the mesh to be displayed later in the year and we look forward to seeing the results! We will post an update of how he progresses.

Scott

Venice Biennale 2014

By now there have been hundreds of on-line reviews of the Venice Biennale which is this year focused around Architecture. The Venice Biennale is an annual event that showcases the creative arts from across the globe. Having been open since the start of June this year, the show is almost coming to its end having seen thousands of interested visitors of all backgrounds. My visit last week coincided with the 5th year study trip which basically allowed students free reign over the site and city.

My interest on the site is of course about the varied use of models. There was certainly no shortage of examples. Each international pavilion display addressed their own study of architectural fundamentals and the use of models played a regular and prominent role. As there were so many examples I will summarize my visit by including images of the examples on show and pay particular attention to contemporary methods of display which noticeably inspired many of the students I was with.

Finland – This pavilion was curated in a clear a concise way that explained the concepts in drawings, writing, models and the full size buildings on display outside of the main space. This method of display for the project was great and makes for easy understanding by any visitor. It’s probably worth taking note of this narrative when thinking about the display or presentation of your own projects.

 

 

 

The use of timber pieces accurately cut for the model (above) translated directly into the construction of the 1:1 construction (right).

 

 

Austria – Now as popular as they are amongst established architects I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘White Model’. I’m not sure why but I suppose it feels like a stark and almost clinical representation of a form which in reality has much more texture and thought behind its finish. That said, I’ve made many of these for clients and of course pursue the whitest of white finish to meet their brief. The Austrian pavilion presented a bright white room dotted with white block models of every one of the worlds parliament buildings (above left and below). I thought it was fantastic and enticing as did so many other visitors who spent a substantial amount of time examining the many models on display. This was an interesting subject matter to study in model form due to the ‘god’ like decisions that come from each of these buildings across the globe. One of my favourite displays of the show.

Projection Models – There was a noticeable buzz around the use of projectors to animate aspects of otherwise static models from the students I was with. Whilst this is something we have looked into before there were several good examples used across the Biennale.

The Canadian pavilion made extensive use of the projection model with micro projectors mounted above white site models. Each model showed traffic flow trends and potential variants in the environment around the site. Anyone wanting to attempt a similar project should start by looking at the type of projector you want to use as they can be expensive and planning their set up in relation to the model is crucial.

 

 

 

The Italian pavilion made use of a similar projection set up but was across a master plan model showing city routes toward and around particular hubs of activity.

 

Also on display in the Italian Pavilion was a host of plaster cast models (right) each with a high level of finish and detail that guaranteed a closer inspection from anyone who walked into the room.

 

This alpine mountain range model (left) made using a CNC router worked fantastically when OS maps were projected on the the model from directly above. the contouring matched perfectly and appeared almost hologram like in front of the viewer.

Russia – In the Russian pavilion there was an interesting model on show that combined digital animation with a physical model. The basic walls and elevations of the model were built up out of plywood and overlaid on top of screens with animated environments of the proposed interior spaces (left).

 

 

 

Turkey – There was a fantastic presentation cross section model of a theatre which was finished in veneer and full lighting (below). As is usually the case with models of this size they invite you to almost get inside the building and view different perspectives as you choose. This model was one of the best in show in terms of attention to detail and finish quality.

Japan – This display reminded me of a studio workspace with samples from different stages of the design process on display all over the room. Amongst the items were plaster casts (left) and perhaps interesting for our second and third year students at the moment, 1:1 structural details such as this fantastic timber joint detail below.

 

The main ‘Fundamentals of Architecture’ display by Rem Koolhass contained a fantastic array of different design and building components split it to groups and stages of production. One of the rooms featured a wide range of concept models from spiral stair cases (right). These were produced in different materials and at varied levels of finish but all as intriguing to see as each other.

 

The Hungarian Pavilion featured a number of great drawings and subsequent sketch models (left). These were made from a variety of materials and almost 100% using traditional analogue methods – that means no laser cutting guys!

 

 

A huge part of the display in the French Pavilion looked at the tower block housing development called Cite De La Muette. The site was a modernist development that became synonymous with sadness after it was converted into a major internment camp for persecuted French Jews awaiting deportation during WW2.

The exhibition looked at the values and goals the development originally set out to achieve that were unfortunately very short lived. The center piece of the display was a white presentation model of the site with a romanticized film vision of modernist living projected behind (left).

Conceptual presentation model on display in the Costa Rican Pavilion (below)

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the design but this Korean hotel model was finished to a high standard from beech veneer and timber (below). Very nice.

One of the 3d printed models from the Moroccan Pavilion display (below). A series of site models were displayed under spotlights in a sand filled dark room. Quite a strange experience to walk around.

Interestingly, despite its increasing prominence in people’s consciousness both professional and public, the use of 3D printing was thankfully kept to an appropriate level in most cases. I was particularly glad of this as the repeated use of this method of model production can become somewhat boring!

As well as the endless exploring of exhibitions across Venice the visiting students did manage to get a tutorial or two in and a presentation session of their proposed ideas.

The show was a fantastic display and I would encourage anyone to visit and see as much of it as possible next time around. The city is, without really needing to say, a fantastic inspiration and learning experience in itself.

Scott

Venice Plaster Detail Model, Becky Prince

Made using an MDF mold this detail model aimed to demonstrate the window detail Becky was focussing on at her site. The mold proved to be the most time consuming aspect of the model but turned out successfully. It is always worth spending longer on mold design to ensure a good cast.

 

The mold was made using MDF which can absorb moisture from the plaster mix and therefore needs to be well sealed before pouring. Becky used Vaselene to act as barrier and release agent for the cast.

The internal void was made by using blue foam to allow for contracting of the cast as it cured and then be removed. This too was well coated in Vaselene to aid removal.

Once cured the MDF was unscrewed and removed before cutting out the internal blue foam. Additional window details were added using initially laser cut and then modified components.

 

1:1 Structural Detail Model, Polys Christofi

I have no doubt that many of you will have noticed the unusual 1:1 detail model that was developed here over the last few weeks before our Christmas break. Polys Chritsofi had decided he wanted to produce he structural study at 1:1 on a mock up brick wall facade. This was an advance on his previous cardboard mock-up which was made at 1:2 Scale.

The journey from idea to reality was an interesting one with several learning curves along the way. Rather than using brick slips (thin cut brick faces) to create the brick wall backdrop Polys decided to use vac formed moulds to create plaster bricks to save on weight and cost. It was an unusual approach that turned out very well.

The detail itself was largely CNC’d outside our workshop and brought in for assembly and finishing. To create a smooth joint between cut components the pieces were laminated together and clamped to dry before being coated in sandsealer.

Applying sandsealer, sanding and repeating is often necessary to achieve a smooth finish on pores materials such as MDF. Any flaws in the surface can further be smoothed using a filler. When the finish was smooth after much sanding, the components were primed with spray primer and painted with a roller.

The plaster bricks were painted with spray paints and individual speckle detail added by hand later. The bricks were then fixed to a back board with an imitation lintel as featured on the actual detail. Once fixed to the back board it was clear the piece would be awkward to move and it was decided that the facade should be made into a skate by fixing wheels that would allow the whole model to be wheeled around.

The bricks were evenly spaced and fixed with Grip Fill adhesive.  To finish the look of the facade mortar was mixed and applied to the joints in the same manner as an actual wall would be pointed. Polys had no experience of this but with a little guidance from Jim was able to get the job done.

 

Finally the finished components were assembled and bolted in place on the facade board. This level of realistic detail is rarely necessary to convey a design and could be argued is not in this case but the new skills learnt through the process, and their application in later design ideas, will undoubtedly prove very useful for Polys.

Plaster Casting guide inspired by Timothy Richards Models

Earlier this year myself and Jim went on a visit to Timothy Richards workshop in Bath. Read more about that visit here.

In response to what we saw there we decided to have a go at casting some facade tests of our own to demonstrate to you the potential when using this method for modelmaking. Starting with some reference images of the University of Manchester Archway we decided to focus on one of the Gothic style windows as our subject.

Making a ‘Master’

Initially recreating the form of this stone work in miniature may seem time consuming but as you will see the end results are fantastic and the intricate detail featured is easily replicated by casting.

A good way of creating details like this is by layering sheet material, in this case acrylic. Planning the layers on CAD will allow you to break down the details into manageable  stages (Above). When combined, the layers of laser cut acrylic form the recesses and steps in the winder with the radius in the stone work being replicated using a filler and hand sanding (Below).

Spraying a coat of primer paint on hand finished areas can help to identify any imperfections in the surface (Below). This primer can then be sanded back

The extra details of the window can be formed using styrene and or abs strip with any further radius being creating again with filler. Once complete the master model is ready to be moulded. 

 Pouring a Silicone Mould 

The are a wide range of silicone’s available for mould making so it is always advisable to check the specification of individual products before committing to use them on your master model. Firstly ensure the master is secured to a mould former – in this case we used a storage try which suited but bespoke formers are usually required.

Ensure the silicone is mixed to the manufacturers instructions and pour in a thin stream to avoid any air bubbles forming against the master mould. Ensure the master is sufficiently covered and allow to cure for the recommended time.

Once cured carefully remove the silicone mould preserving the master mould to be reused if any problems occur. The benefit of using silicone is that the flex allows the master and eventually cast items to be easily removed without much stain on the items themselves.  Some minor trimming of silicone overlap may be required before the mould is ready to be used for plaster casting.Plaster Casting

As with the silicone there are many types of plaster available so always check to see if the specification suits your needs. In this case we simply used stone plaster mixed to the correct consistency and poured directly into the silicone mould – no release agent required.

Once the plaster has set it can be carefully removed from the mould giving a completed cast. These sections can be used as tests or replicated to create a more detailed facade. 

One area we have touched on is adding pigments to the plaster mix to give varied results in terms of finished cast colouring. We will revisit this area when we have time to experiment some more and let you know how it goes. If you have any ideas that could make use of this method of making be sure to get in touch either via email or in person at the workshop. We are more than happy to help! Scott & Jim

 

 

Timothy Richards: Fine Plaster Architectural Models, Bath

Last week, my self and Jim took some annual leave to go on a modelmaking road trip! We visited two main locations and so I’ll split this summary up into two posts. Firstly, this post will cover our visit to a graduate friend of mine’s place of work in Bath.

Timothy Richards has become the world leader in the production of fine plaster cast architectural models for exhibition display and private commission.

Over the past few months there have been several student projects attempting to delve into the plaster casting medium to convey their ideas.Whilst we have some experience of this process we thought it would be useful to ourselves and to upcoming students to give an insight into this process commercially and how better than to visit this master of the art!

A friend of mine, Lauren Milton, with whom I graduated in Modelmaking is now working for Tim and was able to give us an extensive private tour and insight into the workings of the company. Tim’s models range from complete buildings to facade’s and architectural details. Many of these models are made to order as private commissions however there is a range of popular works which are kept in stock for purchase.

The method used to produce the models has been refined over time but essentially involves creating a ‘master’ form of the subject to take a mould from then casting in the appropriate coloured plaster which can be pigmented to suit. One of Tim’s core beliefs about model building is that a model should be as similar in materiality as the building it represents. This means that all of the works produced here are cast in their final colour and therefore no paint is used on the cast surfaces. The only areas where colour may be applied is again through a ‘raw finish’ material such as thin sheet metal used to emboss over certain areas much as they would be in reality on roofing details etc.

Once cast, the building or facade components are assembled and any additional details such as window frames and railing are added. These details are primarily made from etched brass – a process we will cover in another post but in the mean time please ask myself or Jim for more information.  The resulting components can be made extremely fine and add a great deal of realism to these models.

Finely sculpted elements are made by sculptors who are paid to create exact replicas of organic details on the buildings. Once complete the scaled down sculpts are cast in white metals and then added to the master models before being cast into the final model.

Tim keeps everything for future reference meaning an extensive store of past model masters and moulds. This area in particular is fascinating and shows the breadth of experience compiled through sheer number of past projects in store. This visit was truly fascinating and insightful. It may be possible for us to arrange a lecture and demonstration from Tim this coming academic year. Should this happen I can’t recommend it enough!

For more on Tim’s work click here: http://www.timothyrichards.com/

Outside of our workshop visit we spent some time looking around Bath looking at some of its fantastic architecture and the historic Roman Bath house. All in all a great place to visit should you get the chance!

Taking from our visit we have decided to have a go at creating some plaster models of our own so we’ll keep you updated on our progress with that in the coming weeks.

Scott

Ancoats Community Development ‘Hybrid Scheme’, Sandra Schenavsky

3rd year Student Sandra Schenavsky decided to take a materialistic approach to her final submission model. The proposed site in Ancoats would feature a well rounded use of buildings to create a ‘Work, Life and Leisure’ balance for those who might use the space.

Sandra wanted to convey the different uses of each element of her design by representing them as near to her proposed material finish as possible. To do this the existing site and landscaping was represented in laser cut card contours. The main building itself was constructed using pigmented plaster casts to represent concrete sections, laser cut MDF to represent wooden cladding and laser cut acrylic to represent glass facades.

This was a great experimentation project which found a good balance of techniques. Casting plaster into MDF molds proved challenging but after several trials Sandra was able to come up with an effective way of casting the forms she wanted.

 

Extension to the Academy of Fine Arts, Venice, Benjamin Hale

This project seemed to go on forever but Ben got there in the end after much thought and perseverance! Ben described the project in his own words for us:

“The project centred around the concepts of subtractive architectural restoration, revealing existing elements on site and adding additional elements to solve architectural anomalies often found in historical cities such as this.  The models represent at differing scales how the site interacts with this new architecture as well as how my own building functioned within the new public spaces created by this subtraction. Many of the models are abstract forms of more sophisticated concepts yet the message remains concise as to what each model is trying to achieve by the way of simplifying the material pallet and not resorting to complicated methods. The models are also interchangeable as long as they are created at the same scale and can be reused to create new models later on or explain an idea in greater detail. Model making is an integral part of any designer’s toolbox and new techniques should be tested, however often you can find that a new take on a tried and tested method will result in unexpected outcomes that will further you design.”

This series of models certainly give a varied view of Bens proposed project which is exactly what you should be trying to achieve in your submissions. Models are there to convey different aspects of your design in the best possible way. Spending time to think about exactly what you want to show and how best to show it is time well spent as frustrating as it can be at times!

Also, as a side note to you all, unless you plan to take your array of models with you to interviews etc. then good photography is essential to document your work. We will be looking to a devoted photography area of the workshop in the coming months in time for the start of your new term in September.