This exercise asked for an illustration that showed the contrast between a building and it’s surroundings. I had not been looking forward to this exercise as I felt it would require a detailed observational drawing of a building which I get really bored doing and give up quickly. However, in researching architectural illustration I realised that models are also commonly used. Having blogged about our extension recently it occurred to me that the extension was a very modern build attached to an old (Victorian / Edwardian) house. I decided in order to “get out” of having to make a drawing I would make a model.

I made some sketches of ideas of how I would set about it. I decided to use 3 pieces of board to represent the outer walls and the ground. I had the architect plans so I used these to work out the exact measurements. I scaled up the architect plan which was 1:50, by multiplying by 3.


architect’s plan


working out construction ideas


working out construction ideas



working out construction ideas


I started off working with bristol board but after a while I started to think about the brief of contrasting old and new. The extension is all made of very new materials whereas the house was built in the 1890’s, of stone. The bristol board is very smooth so I was thinking I could draw the stones on it but then I thought that I should use a more textured surface. I was also struggling with how to fix the walls and the pillars to the base. I knew that I was going to use wooden dowling as the steel pillars and as I wanted them to be very solid, not wobbling over. I decided to use a piece of polystyrene as the base, so I could use the thickness to sink the pillars into it. I tried cutting a new base out of a polystyrene base but it looked really rough.


polystyrene base that was too rough

Instead I cut a larger piece, so that the rough edges would be hidden at the back. (Ultimately I got a polystyrene cutter, which would have been useful early on! Still, it will come in handy next time)

I decided to try cardboard for the walls, using the bristol board as templates.


rethinking the walls and base

I drew the windows and doors onto the cardboard and scaped the lines of the bricks into the cardboard to give the texture. I then painted the windows, door and window frames and finally the stone walls. Happily it was much more effective than I was expecting.img_0613img_0614

I went back to the bristol board for the mezzanine floor and also the ground floor which is of smooth polished concrete.


struggling with the stairs


adding the treads


adding the floor

I used coptic markers and spray paint to colour the floor, which gave the very smooth result that I was looking for. The stairs proved quite difficult to fit (as they did in real life). I used mount board which had the right amount of smoothness, strength and flexibility. Once I had fixed the “steels” to the mezzanine floor and the ground floor I added treads made out of bristol board, coloured with coptic markers. I then glued the spray painted floor over the polystyrene base. I had to cut into the floor to fit it around the stairs.

I used a plumbing pipe as the steels encircling the extension, I fixed it to the dowling with drawing pins, resprayed and then fixed them in place. Finally I added a bristol board roof.

I have yet to add the windows, but having spent a long time already on this exercise, I thought I ought to move on.

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome. It doesn’t look like a proper architect’s model as it is still very rough with my usual wobbly edges and bodged bits, but I think my technical skills have improved over time.

When I took photos of the finished model I noticed a strange phenomena which has happened to me before when I made a model. The model in a photograph had lost the charm of the model in real life. I had photoshopped the background out of the photo and the resulting picture did not look good, once it had no context. I retook some photos, leaving in the background and adding in some doll’s from a doll’s house, (as the scale was just about right).extension2IMG_0638.jpg


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