A Case for Building Architectural Models

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Architectural model building is a crucial part of every building process. By building a model, we activate a sensory feedback link between our hands and brain called embodied cognition. Science has shown that our motor systems influence our comprehension and understanding in a similar way in which our brain controls our physical actions. Model making allows you to unlock creative parts of your brain you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. 

There are two main types of architectural building models: study models and presentation models. Study models are three-dimensional sketches that allow the architect and their team to explore design ideas quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, presentation models convey a finished design and architects present them at client meetings. 

What Are Architectural Models? 

The key ingredients of a successful project are the architect’s talent, knowledge, and skills. However, the design process requires outstanding communication, too. Being able to express your ideas and discuss new approaches presented by team members is equally important as the architect’s skill level. 

How the design will look in real life is the most concerning question for every architect and his entire team. Physical architectural model making has shown to be an excellent communication tool in every design-related activity. It is a perfect way to represent the ideas developed in the minds of the architects, to think about possible solutions and find the best one. To put it simply, a make model is a 3D representation of the result from working on architectural ideas. However, an architectural model can also be an object specifically created to showcase historical buildings. On itself, an architectural model can be an object of beauty admired by architects and observers. 

History of Architectural Models 

A craftsman created the first clay-made building model in 4600 BC, meaning architectural models have a long history. However, the earliest model wasn’t used for building purposes but was buried as one of the funerary objects. The first architectural model emerged in China during the Han Dynasty. 

These pottery buildings represented scale models made of soil embryo, which imitates wood in its appearance. 

As the complexity of buildings started to increase in the 15th century, architectural models began playing a significant role in building projects. From the very start, the intention behind all the model designs was to make them as realistic as possible. 

Moreover, during the Renaissance, architects used architectural models to showcase the finished designs of monumental buildings like basilicas and churches. 

In the 20th century, conceptual architectural models appeared, representing the abstract ideas of an architect. Subtly, the models became a connection between architecture and fine arts. Ever since the latest decades of the 20th century, architectural models have been the most used and most efficient way of representing developing ideas and finished concept projects around the world. 

While you’ll see various materials for building architectural models throughout history, the concept of a physical model of an idea remains ever the same. 

The key to architectural models’ success is innovation. 

Modern Architectural Models 

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and various high-tech model making tools and techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting allow architects today to develop magnificent building models with nearly impeccable detail and precision. 

Moreover, an architectural model is a form of expressive art language today. 

Presentation models, in particular, are often used in the architectural design of various buildings, including homes, offices, hotels, resorts, schools, retail spaces, and other public facilities. Thanks to modern technology, creating architectural models is now easier, it takes less time, and the results are more detailed and accurate than ever before. 

The sophisticated models of today showcase all the details of the design to the client. They successfully cope with the construction industry’s fast development and enable architects to present their ideas, including every detail and innovation. The client can see the space layout and structure and the building surroundings, the ventilation and level of illumination inside, etc. Modern technology allows architects to develop green technologies and help sustain current global environmental dangers and issues. 

The outcomes of creating architectural models keep getting better, and so do the technologies supporting the process. Architectural models are here to stay for a long time, and every architect will agree. 


It takes great skill to build fascinating architectural models. While it does take talent, it also requires a lot of patience and continuous practice. Moreover, even with the best skills, you won’t create a remarkable model unless you use the right tools and materials. As with cooking a home meal, the outcome will be only as good as the ingredients are. With the right technology, tools, and materials, building an architectural model is a fun, creative, and highly efficient way of presenting any building type. Favored by architects worldwide, the process will remain a crucial part of the building-making puzzle for years (even centuries) to come. 

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