What Clients Should Know About Architectural Scale Models

Architectural scale models are real-world renderings of planned or existing structures. They are employed for a variety of purposes, including publicity, engineering discussions, investment sessions, and regulatory compliance. If you're preparing to hire an architectural model maker for a project, there are four things you should know.

How Scales Corresponded to the Real World

Your choice of scale will depend on what you wish to depict. Scales are expressed as units of 1 to some larger number in an agreed-upon unit of measure. Everyone referencing architectural scale models must be aware of what units the numbers represent.

Roughly speaking, 1:10 scale is used to indoor areas at a level where furniture is distinguishable. At the other end, 1:2500 scale depicts city maps with just enough resolution to identify specific buildings. There are many in-between options, but 1:100 represents an appropriate scale for building plans. 1:1000 scale represents a scale suitable for urban planning at specific locations.

Materials Choices

Architectural scale models are frequently made of foam boards and sheets or cork sheets. Wood is sometimes used, too, and paper, wires, and clay may be used where appropriate. Model makers utilize various glues to hold everything together, although they sometimes also use metal and wooden supports to provide greater strength.

Bear in mind that not all materials are created equal. An ornate design using papier-mâché, for example, is great for a safe environment with no outdoor exposure, but it could be a nightmare if exposed to wind or rain. Talk with your architectural model maker about which materials are most suited to your application.


The vast majority of model makers now use 3-D computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs to create their work. Architects, contractors, developers, and agency professionals often provide their CAD models as starting points. The model makers will adapt the renderings to their software and hardware. Most then use production software to convert the designs into laser-cut pieces and 3-D printed components.

Detail Level

One of the biggest decisions customers have to make is how detailed the model will be. An architectural model maker can produce white-only structures that are great for quick work on projects that are still under revision. They also can produce highly detailed models with people, trees, furnishings, and even water features. Expect added details to contribute to costs.

To learn more about architectural models, contact an architectural model maker that works in your area.

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