An architectural model is a scaled three-dimensional reproduction of a structure made to examine an architectural design's features or communicate a concept. Once regarded as fine art, architectural models are now functional tools that breathe life into abstract ideas and visions. Traditionally, these scale models incorporate a range of materials including cardboard, wood, foam, and polystyrene. Advancements in technology allow for 3D printing to create preciseness that is difficult to achieve with traditional modeling methods. By combining traditional modeling techniques with 3D printed details modern architectural models bring form and function together to create anything from accurate historical models to concepts of never-before-imagined designs.
There are five main types of architectural models. Exterior models represent the outside of the building and usually incorporate minor landscape features like trees and flowers. Interior models show details such as floorplans, finishes, and furniture placement. Urban models, usually built at a very small scale, are crucial for city planners and show developments, neighborhoods, large resorts, campuses, industrial facilities, and more. Landscape design models show detail in elements like vegetation, walkways, water features, trees, and small structures like gazebos and footbridges. Construction and engineering models show the builders and engineers structural elements of a plan.
For architects, scale models help to show concepts as three-dimensional presentations. An architectural model will demonstrate to a builder how the architect's vision looks before construction. An architectural model will also show the design functionality. Visualization in a physical model will indicate if a window needs placement elsewhere or the roof's slope isn't quite right. Drafts and plans that are otherwise too complex and difficult to imagine two-dimensionally can be brought to life as a model.
For example, the blueprints for a high-rise can fill pages and pages, which is often difficult to conceptualize. In contrast, an architectural model created from those same plans will show the high-rise in a way that even a novice can understand.
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