Nearly two years ago, KiwiMill built a model of a five ton FMTV armored cab truck model with a specialized medical hospital payload. The model was 1/10th scale with the truck about 36″ long. It was completely hand-built for trade show use, with a brass frame and numerous brass details. The cab had separately applied bolt head and hinge details on laser etched acrylic armor panels.
Recently the model shop was asked to make a second FMTV truck, in 1/20th scale. Having acquired a 3D printer during the interim, KiwiMill approached the build somewhat differently the second time around. Many detailed parts that were built by hand originally, were drawn on the computer and made with the Objet 3D printer, precisely and quickly. Soldered brass was still used for strength and longevity. The fabric tent design was altered a bit as well.
There is no one right way to make a scale model. Approaches vary depending on the materials and fabrication methods available, as well as the particular preferences of the model maker. Specific client requests may factor in, and of course, budget and time constraints. Skilled model makers adapt and adjust to new technology, continuously honing and improving on their techniques.
Something that doesn’t change in the profession: the purpose of the scale model will always drive the fabrication method and materials used, while the quality of the finished product will determine if the chosen methods were successful.
Site models serve a variety of purposes. They may be used for sales, fundraising, development approval, corporate show piece, or museum display. Typically they encompass a large geographic area. The area included in a site model often extends beyond the boundaries of the particular structures being featured. In this way it gives the project a sense of place and space.
Because a site model usually needs to cover a lot of area, the scale tends to be smaller. Smaller scale models generally have less detail than a large-scale architectural model. It’s not impossible to create tiny details on a smaller scale site model but much of that detail will be difficult for the naked eye to see, and therefore many clients opt not to go too detailed. Of course, a museum or corporate display model may be both small-scale and highly detailed. It depends on the model’s purpose.
Site models may be as simple as geometric blocks representing structures, or include textured, storied buildings with window recesses and balconies . The chosen scale of the model will lend itself to different approaches. Most site models include extensive landscaping because there is a large physical campus, or area to represent. Topography is important as well, for the same reason; smaller scale does not mean sacrificing the varied elevations of most sites.
Check out the pictures of different site models below. They include housing developments, office parks, military bases, corporate headquarters and production facilities. Even an urban skate park!