Think like a model builder and consider what the best materials are to create your project. Knowing the materials you are using helps when modeling those build components in Rhino.
- [Instructor] So, what materials are you using? Architectural models usually use a variety of different materials to achieve different looks. The most common materials you'll come across as a model builder are wood, plastic, paper, and foam. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses. And knowing the best uses of these materials before you start your project will render the best product possible. It will also help you when you're modeling out your pieces in your digital model. Let's look at a few models that use different types of materials to see what strategies look best for different types of designs. In this first image, you can see an example of a low detail fantasy model my company Model Space built entirely out of walnut wood. Wood likely will be one of the first materials you'll get familiar with as a model builder because it's easily available and easy to work with, even when using basic tools. Wood is also relatively forgiving because any mistakes you make could be patched or easily sanded to hide any of those errors. In this example, the base of the model is handcut out of rough cut lumber with a table saw. All the attached homes are laser cut out of 16th of an inch thick walnut sheets with etched detail. So even when working with one type of material, you can still add a lot of extra interesting detail depending on what type of building technique you use. In this example, you can see a simple site model made by my firm primarily constructed out of different thicknesses of laser cut plastic. Plastic is a great material to use for a slick modern look. However, it can be a little hard to work with because most types of plastics are difficult to glue or weld without showing any excess runoff or spots. In this site model example I use a variety of different laser cut acrylic thicknesses and colors to distinguish different types of buildings on the site. Acrylic is a great material to use with a laser cutter because it does not warp or have any rough edges from the heat of the laser. Styrene is a good plastic alternative though if you do not have access to a laser cutter because there are many off the shelf model building products that are easy to hand cut and glue. I'd be remissed if I also didn't mention a 3D printable plastic. In this example, the building we designed here was completely 3D printed by an FDM printer using PLA plastic. 3D printing uses a variety of different plastic types including ABS, PLA, nylon and more. We'll learn a little bit more about these materials and fabrication techniques later on. Foam is a great material to work with as a model builder because it's easy to cut and is very forgiving. In this example, you can see a basic massing of a city, where the buildings are sculpted out of blocks of extruded polystyrene with a hot wire cutter. The topography of the model is handcut foam core with an aerial photograph of the city put on top. Extruded polystyrene is an ideal material to cut by hand or with the hot wire cutter. It's also the type of material you'll find in foam core. This low density foam is great for getting out simple massing models quickly. Another type of foam commonly used in model building is high density urethane, also known as HDU. In this unfinished example, you can see the topography lines of the site along with the massing of the existing context building a CNC cut out of a block of HDU. This material is firm enough that you could cut it with woodworking tools like a table saw or CNC router, but also soft enough that you could sand it and cut small pieces with an X-Acto knife. It looks great as this unfinished warm tone, but if you'd like it to be a different color, it also accepts a wide variety of paints really well. These qualities make an ideal material for cutting out site models. So let's look at a few different models that use a hybrid of different materials and fabrication techniques to achieve a cleaned up detailed look. This is the same model we saw in the previous image with its final coat of paint distinguished features like the road, landscape and context building. We also see a more detailed building of the design intervention from the architects using a variety of different plastic materials to build up different details in the facade. In this hybrid example, we have an unfinished CNC routed foam base of the topography with massing blocks cut out of wood to represent the context buildings along with some custom built scale trees made out of wire and flocking. You'll notice we're using two different types of wood in this model. The lighter buildings that blend more with the site topography color are made out of basswood, while the buildings that we would like to feature are made of the pinkish cherry wood in the center. These buildings are not literally made of these types of woods in real life though. We're using different species of woods to highlight different areas in diagrammatic way. In this final example, we see a close up of a single building design intervention in back of an existing building, both made out of a combination of laser cut sheets of cherry wood and acrylic. Although both buildings use cherry wood as the primary material, I distinguish their importance with the amount of detail I include, for instance, you'll see that the existing building doesn't have any clear windows details other than what is etched into the cherry wood surface while the design intervention has clear etched windows. Using similar materials with different detailer rules helps distinguish what is and is not important in your final model and tells the best story to your client. These are just a few examples to get you excited about the possibilities when choosing the material or materials for your model.