The creation of physical models are a traditional part of the architectural process. These can present the entire building or space at a smaller scale, show rooms or individual spaces, or showcase individual elements such as materials, lighting, surfaces or interiors. This can become a tool for dialogue tool when combined with other methods. There is a much greater sense of physicality than in VR. Investigations on a one-to-one basis give an opportunity to test the solutions directly with people throughout the construction project. Models can be roughly mocked-up using cardboard, paper or plasticine at either full size or at scale, to enable user walk-throughs, discussions around adjacencies and even to test the effect of the proposed design on people with different abilities and functional needs.
- The exchange of impressions will be more immediate in model or prototype where people can experience materials, colours and light in a more physical way
- Surfaces, lighting, contrast and acoustics can be checked and tested
- The location of stairways, windows, toilets etc. can be functionally assessed and new discoveries can made that might not be possible using digital models
- The sense of dimension is much clearer, and slip surfaces, bases and equipment in the room can be investigated
- Wayfinding solutions can be put to the test
- Can be cost-effective and easy to mock-up smaller models
- Larger models may be necessary, but can be time-consuming and expensive to create
- Organising testing and recording feedback and findings can be resource-intensive
- Can only test elements of the building, not the whole space
- Models are typically representative rather than actual designs, therefore requiring participants to interpret the ideas, e.g. to see a paper wall as a wooden or concrete one.
This could lead to some confusion
- Invitees may not know how to read a scale model, especially if they are not professional designers or architects
- Capturing feedback needs careful thought and consideration, as insights will be open to interpretation