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Architectural Model Maker
An architectural model maker builds scale models of buildings drafted by architects. Scale models are necessary for obtaining practical information with regard to what the building will look like when finished, how much sunlight will come in the windows and how the building will fit in with its surroundings.

In the world of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and town planning, models have been used for ages. Models used to be built in architects’ offices by architects and draughtsmen. More recently, model building has developed into a profession of its own, with developers realising the true value and advantage of scale models.

Model makers interpret and transpose architects’ drawings into three-dimensional reproductions. Models constructed are to specific scales and the materials used imitate the proposed building materials. The miniature constructions enable architects to present developers or owners with concrete examples of proposed buildings or projects.

Architectural model makers construct different types of models to depict particular features of the building. These include: block models, semi-detailed or working models, fully detailed models and interior models.

Block models show only the external form of the building, to visualize architectural forms three-dimensionally, showing the contours only and model buildings are mainly blocks with no detail.

Semi-detailed or working models represent the plans in concrete form to builders and are used where the scale is too small to show detail, as well as in cases where a developer or architect wants a “quick” model to visualize the effect and position of a building.

Detailed completed models show precisely what the project or building will look like after completion and it is important that the finest detail is depicted.

Interior models show the internal set-up, complete with scale-model furniture and the interior decorating of the building. The model maker is expected to make the furniture to scale.

In the case of a proposed high-rise building intended to house apartments, shops, parking and garaging facilities, each floor of the model would be built separately from the next, but inter-joining. This would allow the designer to study the available space, light, ventilation, types of business premises, exits and entrances and so on. The roof would be detachable, as would fire escapes, escalators and elevators, which might have to be moved to more suitable positions. The completed model, after examination by all parties concerned, would then be shown to the client for approval or suggestions.

Models are useful because they can help the architect and client decide whether the proposed building should be constructed or not. Developers also make use of models to illustrate precisely what the proposed building will look like. This enables them to sell the buildings before the project has even started.

Models are one of the greatest marketing tools for developers. Potential clients are often confused by drawings and plans alone. The model will show them more or less what the finished project will look like, thus enabling the developer to sell space or time-share before the actual construction of the building has started.

Satisfying Aspects
- the variety of the work
- working with people
- the opportunity to use one's creativity and artistic ability

Demanding aspects
- working long hours
- having to change plans in order to please architects, designers or clients meeting deadlines

An architectural model builder should:
- be adept at working with fine detail
- have artistic ability
- have ability to interpret architectural drawings
- have knowledge of maths, to interpret these specifications and drawings
- have ability to visualize two-dimensional drawings three-dimensionally
- have good sense of form
- be accurate and precise worker
- be able to work in a group
- be handy, with excellent manual and finger dexterity
- have good eyesight
- be healthy
- have a steady hand for finer details

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Mathematics, Visual Arts

Diploma: Architecture and Architectural Technology - UJ, CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU

Employers may offer in-service training. It would be an advantage to have a diploma in Architectural Technology or at least in Art.

There are a few model-building studios in Pretoria and Johannesburg where students can receive training. It takes two years to learn all the skills and aspects of model building, which includes the following: materials, spraying techniques, moulding, cutting techniques and light-duty machinery work.

- architects
- architectural model building firms
- large building construction companies
- town planning firms
- large building firms
- property developers
- government departments      
- self-employment - with the necessary experience and finance a person can start their own model
building business and do work for architectural and building firms

South African Council for the Architectural Profession
P O Box 408
Bruma, 2026
Tel: (011)417-0900 Fax: (011) 615-4819