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Interior shot of the 1:100 scale Architectural Model Museum model

When most designers think, they reach for a pencil. However, I have always been drawn to making models to clarify my thoughts and intentions. Why is this? Who else designs this way? Is it a valid way of designing? 

With this thesis, I seek to explore the role of physical model-making in architectural practice and its influence on creative thinking within the design process.

This thesis analyses existing model typologies, functions and techniques, including those from leading practices and personal projects to uncover the diverse range of possibilities that emerge through making models.

With this broader knowledge, I aim to test the role of model-making within my own design process by establishing a design methodology where thinking is purely driven by making. The model becomes the only tool for enquiring and overcoming all the milestones encountered during the development of the design.

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Conceptual models used to define the project brief (left). Development models used to explore form, space, circulation, material and structure (right).
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Series of development models slotted into the site context.

It seemed appropriate to research the design challenge by creating an architectural model museum that doubles as a new front door to the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning and the Design Programme.

As its name suggests, it is a place for the conservation and preservation of architectural models made available for public viewing through exhibition.

The museum not only acts as an ideal physical manifestation of the design process, but it also proposes a desired outcome for the after-life of models once they have fulfilled their role in academic learning. The model then becomes more than a means of learning for the designer’s gain, and its knowledge can continue to cycle within the community and benefit others.

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A series of day and night photographs of the site model at human scale.
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The 1:100 building model photographed at three different times of the day to provide different spatial moods.

Ultimately, this thesis has justified the status of model-making within architectural practice. It has heightened my awareness of architectural phenomena through physical stimuli of materials and has simultaneously assisted me in the discovery of my own model-making language and propensities as a designer.

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Close-ups of human interactions with architectural model displays on the third floor.
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Close-ups of human interactions with architectural model displays on the top floor.
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Elevator core and ramp of the museum.
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Top floor of the ramp with continuous glass display bench.
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The elevator core intersects all levels of the ramp.
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1:50 scale sectional model showing the major structural components making up the architecture.