Q+A: Meet DMA’s new model maker Alex Hamilton

How does model making support the design process?

Architectural models play an intrinsic role in the design process by being able to quickly produce tangible representations of the designer’s vision. The ability to manipulate the scale allows us to study and communicate designs whether it is detailed design elements, materiality and facades, the mass of a building in context or overall urban schemes. However, models cannot show all elements of design on their own but are working in unison with architectural plans, computer visualizations, and design material boards in communicating ideas and designs.

What training and key skills are needed to be a model maker?

Model makers do not necessarily have architectural training. I began working in an architectural practice having no experience with either architecture or model making. My training was very much like an internship, working under the guidance of an experienced model maker I was introduced first to traditional model making techniques and workshop machinery making simple models, and over time began taking on more ambitious projects and responsibilities. Visual spatial skills and an attention to detail are in my opinion are the two corner stone’s in model making and general craftsmanship, both of these become more adept with time and are two traits that you find in all model makers.

What are the current trends in model making?

Model making is constantly adapting to, and incorporating in new technologies. 3D printing and CNC routing has of recent years opened up massive possibilities of in architectural model making, particularly with a wide range of high quality machines becoming more affordable. Despite these technologies being able to quickly reproduce 3D designs, (which bear in mind is the job of a model maker), the need for model makers still exists, traditional workshop skills allow you to understand how best to incorporate these new technologies with which to create models.

What is your vision for model making at DMA?

I would hope to see the incorporation of models throughout all projects, for both interior and architectural design, from initial conceptual stages to finalised presentation designs. We will be designing all models with continuity throughout their aesthetic, in doing so, creating a distinctive DMA style to model making. We will be integrating a wide variety of techniques and materials in order to create unique models that communicate designs effectively and impressively.

What would be your dream building or structure to model?

Making a meticulously detailed model of The Sydney Opera House would have to top my list. I recently took a tour through the building and what struck me was the precise attention to detail of every element. Despite being designed and constructed half a century ago it still looks and feels contemporary -and I am sure would prove to be the ultimate challenge to replicate in a model.