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  • Writer's pictureMatthijs Melchiors

Real Architects do it with models...

I want to talk a little bit about the creative process and making things with your hands..I got into architecture because I wanted to be able to build models every day of my professional life and it is actually what I thought architects spent most of their time doing.

I believe there is something very special about models, and while most architectural practices today consider models somewhat exotic and unnecessary my response to this is "why the the hell would you not?! Building models is linked to a creative thought process. The collision of the deliberate and unexpected produce some really cool things. One of the things physical model building allows you to do is to step away entirely from the distraction of the digital environment. Moving away from the computer and cell phone and picking up your pencil and sticks and wood and glue and rulers and tweezers. Doing this distraction free thinking is very valuable and there is very little space in our world for that right now.

More importantly..the end result is tangible! The models are these beautiful kind of little jewels and I think they are irresistible. Digital models just aren't endearing in the same way that your instagram feed isn't something you would probably frame on your wall. They just don't encourage you to engage in the same way that a physical model does. A model is this manifestation of your work. It is something you can hold in your hand and there is something very beautiful about that

Similarly sketches are open-ended. They suggest a multiplicity of solutions, not just one solution like a finished rendering or the finished computer model, who portray or suggest one singular solution. A physical model can suggest that cladding could be metal, it could be wood, it could be any number of things. I could literally spray paint it 16 different colors if I wanted to, to test what those solution will do to the final form of it. The idea about deliberate moves, deliberate design moves, versus unexpected ones is really interesting to me, and the models allows for that to happen in an open exploration

I view models as teaching tools. It is very difficult to fake the realities of construction even with a tiny physical model. If you build something and it feels flimsy and starts racking, you understand pretty quickly: ok I need a shear panel here, I need to brace this wall to keep it from moving back and forth. You get a tactile sense of how materials go together, how they are joined. You understand what works and what doesn't. Building models is a practice that builds material intuition. I just don't think there are very many ways to get that experience other than practicing in real life with real buildings and real materials. This off course comes with a lot more liability and a lot more risk and human safety involved. Therefore building models is a great teaching tool.

There is a term called metacognition, which is stopping and taking a moment to think about how you are actually thinking about a problem. building models is kind of a metacognition process for me. Models are a way of stepping back, re-evaluating the problem, and asking yourself if you are asking all the right questions in the first place

Intrigued? Then let's start building...

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