Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 – 1960) was a prolific architect, responsible for landmarks that include the Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and Bankside Power Station (now Tate Modern).
Ironically, of all these cavernous structures, his most visited design only houses one person at a time: the classic British red telephone box.
In 1924, a competition was held to re-design the concrete K1 telephone box, which many London boroughs had refused to install. Scott won the competition (against two other architects), though the Post Office chose the distinctive red colour over his suggestion of silver.
Today, most of these ‘K2’ telephone boxes have been designated Grade II listed building status.
Photograph of Cambridge University Library (left) and Red Telephone Box (right) – both Giles Gilbert Scott designs – courtesy of Wikipedia.
Despite the many advances in technology that allow architects to render their designs very realistically in a virtual space, most practioners (and their clients) still insist on creating painstakingly exact physical models of their designs.
An architectural model is a type of a scale model, tangible (also called sometimes physical) representation of a structure built to study aspects of an architectural design or to communicate design ideas to clients, committees, and the general public. Architectural models are a tool which may be used for show, presentation, fundraising, obtaining permits, and sale purposes. (source)
There isn’t a lot of literature around about why this is still necessary, as from a purely practical perspective AutoCAD renderings are probably more accurate – though they don’t always give an impression of how a building will feel. There seems to be a correlation between the end result – presumably a building or room or outdoor space that will exist in a physical space – and the desire to have something tangible that represents it, even in the planning stages.
Similarly, hobbyists around the world are passionate about model building. At this very moment, there are likely thousands of people around the world making scale models of cities, vehicles (air, space, water and rail), solar systems and many other strange curiosities. There is no real answer for why this is appealing, except for the obvious, which is that it makes tactile the intangible curves and edges to ideas, which do not really come alive by reading about a thing or looking at a photographic representation.
Architectural Model photograph by Joaaso.