Would I really stoop as low as clichéd architectural innuendo to act as click-bait for an article? Why, yes, it appears I would. Well, now that you’re here, you may as well take a peek at this perfect plethora of architectural models from throughout the last century. The collection illustrates the versatility of models as a medium to convey complex design ideas, as well as some beautifully succinct demonstrations of structural logic.
Peter Eisenman’s undulating display of timber veneer, part of a competition submission for the City of Culture complex in Santiago de Compostela, was sufficiently intoxicating to win him the commission. The model beautifully illustrated the concept — a rippled landscape revealing programmatic voids beneath — and, ironically, gave the architect a huge problem … how could reality ever match up to this stunning piece of craftsmanship?
Terrain | Dwayne Oyler & Lebbeus Woods
Many would think it unlikely that the theoretical musings and extraordinary sketches of Lebbeus Woods could be accurately translated in 3-dimensional form, but Dwayne Oyler attempted it with no small degree of success. In particular, "Terrain" — a study of architecture as a dense urban landscape — is a striking exhibition in texture, light, and shade using that most humble of mediums: white card.
DZ Bank | Frank Gehry
Love them or loathe them, there is one thing that most would agree on with respect to Frank’s flamboyant waves of titanium and glass: these buildings must present one hell of a challenge to Gehry’s resident model makers. Their skillful dexterity resulted in a fantastic exhibition of the Canadian architect’s work at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany: A particular favorite of mine is the section model for the DZ Bank in Berlin, juxtaposing the linear lines of the existing building with those classic Gehry curves.
For an exhibition in New York in 2007, Bjarke Ingels took his love of LEGO to new heights — quite literally. The pixelated towers — a mixed-use proposal for Copenhagen — are a great example of how serious architectural proposals can be combined with the fun of those iconic colored bricks, providing a tangible vision of a fresh strategy for residential high-rises.
Via Chrispy Thoughts
Sagrada Familia | Antoni Gaudi
Many of the greatest architects are known for taking accepted design conventions and turning them upside down — Antoni Gaudi’s model for the Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most literal interpretation of that idiom. The Spanish architect attached a series of weights to string, forming catenary arches in one of the earliest experiments in parametric design. Once inverted, the model forms an accurate skeletal structure to inform the construction of this iconic church’s many organic spires.
Sydney Opera House | Jørn Utzon
In architecture, sexy = simple, and Jørn Utzon’s roof study for his famed opera house is the epitome of simplicity. Utzon created this diagrammatic model to illustrate the rationale behind the geometry of the building’s iconic sails: deriving the forms from dissections of a single sphere allowed the components to be prefabricated, and made construction of the complex shells infinitely more feasible.
Vacant NL | RAAAF
For the Venice Biennale in 2010, experimental studio RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances] created a vast cityscape of the Netherlands’ vacant buildings using a material that will bring out simultaneous feelings of love and loathing amongst architects: blue foam. Suspended above one of the main gallery spaces, the installation was created to highlight the enormous potential of inspiring, unoccupied buildings across the country.
Via Design Boom
Church Of The Light | Tadao Ando
While blue foam is commonly utilized as an "anti-material" to express pure form, there is nothing more sexy than a beautifully crafted model hewn from the very stuff its real-life counterpart is to be made from. Tadao Ando’s concrete Church of the Light is a case in point — the subtlety of texture, light, and atmosphere can be felt almost as strongly in this model as they are in the iconic structure itself.
New York City | Yutaka Sone
Ok, so this might be classed as a sculpture more than a conventional architectural model, but regardless: the craftsmanship necessary to create it cannot fail to leave one’s jaw on the floor. Yutaka Sone carves vast landscapes from solid pieces of marble, contrasting enormous, sweeping gestures with an incredible attention to detail. Trace the intricately constructed streets, avenues, parks, bridges, and buildings, including recognizable landmarks such as the Empire State Building.
Via Daily Tonic
Crown Hall | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
I could go on about the pure, uncompromising geometries and considered proportions of this model of the S.R. Crown Hall in Chicago, Illinois, but let’s face it: the real star of the show here is the modernist icon that stood just behind it. Mies’ harsh, calculated stare perfectly sums up the design principles behind the building that he is presenting here, and hey: what’s more sexy than an architect who knows exactly what he wants, then goes out and builds it?
Model behavior indeed. Now, let me know the gorgeous models that knock you off your feet ...
The Angry Architect