Best materials for first year final project model?


So my Design 1 final is a week and a half from now, and my teacher just gave us the go ahead to start building our models. We were tasked with redesigning a nearby townhouse. It's approximately 44' X 22' X 35', and our final will be at 3/8 scale. My project has these triangular enclosures that are meant to be planar and allow for new ways of entry into the model. These are sunken into the original townhouses, with parts that are protruding out from the house (think along the lines of the Military History Museum in Dresden, Germany).

We're required to use two different materials. I want my planar elements to contrast and stand out with the original house, but I'm not quite sure what materials to use. My first idea was museum board for the planar elements, and mdf for the house. I like the look of the museum board, but I'm worried about keeping it clean at such a large scale (we're being limited to white), it's ability to be crafted into sharp shapes that are ideally made of a single, folded plane, and its price. Mdf still seems like the best choice for the house, as I need to recreate the thickness of the walls and floors, but I'm just not a fan of the grainy look. 

Basswood would be a nice substitute for the museum board, but it would loose some of that contrast with the mdf, and it is still pricey. What do you think? Would anyone happen to have any suggestions for alternatives or combinations? 

Thank you :-)

Apr 17, 18 7:05 am
Non Sequitur

Basswood or go home. Stain it if you want contrast or learn to work with copper and steel for accents.  

Apr 17, 18 7:29 am

Or buy a different wood type, walnut and cherry seemed cheap to me, considering how much they were already charging for bass wood.

The bastard scale - LOL. What mental institution are you attending?

Cut and fold your model out of a single piece of mat board and mount it on a plywood base. That should shut them the fuck up.

Apr 17, 18 10:17 am

What the hack is that scale, basswood and museum board my fav combination for school :)

Apr 17, 18 10:20 am

Cardboard, you can get sheets of it brown or white and it is a lot cheaper than foam core. If you get the supper thick stuff and carefully cut it into strips you have a truss pattern.  I don't always see the need to use expensive materials like foam core or museum board when the finished appearance can be achieved with less costly and environmentally degrading means. 

Post some photos of your work here when you get done.

also important is to take lots of photos of the in-progress work as this can be useful in future portfolio work, I deeply regret not taking photos every day of my projects as I was building the models.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Apr 17, 18 10:24 am

basswood and walnut for contrast and chipboard base or even cardboard base to keep cost down as long as the craft is good its fine.

Apr 17, 18 10:30 am

Concrete and steel.

Apr 17, 18 11:49 am

make it out of borco

comes in white, gray, tan, light green & clear

Apr 17, 18 11:53 am

3/8" scale is rather large for a full model, even for a small house.  You could depict crown moulding, base board, layers of finishes vs substrate, individual bricks, etc at that scale.  I'm surprised they're having 1st years work at that level.  Do first years have access to the laser cutter(s) or will those be booked by upper classmen, because I know I'd be buying multiple different colors of 1/32" 1/16" and 1/8" thick boards and using the laser cutter to provide patterns (brick, flooring, etc) before then cutting the pieces to fit.  

As I recall, 1/8" scale was typical for a long time, where 1/16" was a stair step.  Some Junior, all senior, and all grad levels bumped up to 1/4" more often, with a 1/16" site model and whatever scale you wanted sectional or perspective models.  I don't think we ever got away from cardboard, chipboard, foamcore, and gessup in first year though.  All simple forms and shapes with no finish or construction articulation.  Some people would use colored boxes instead of white foamcore... and get admonished by at least one of the critiques for improper use of color.

Apr 17, 18 4:25 pm
Non Sequitur

What those dash lines with numbers on each side mean?


I wish I had your sense of humor... alas I have no response.


Two materials?  Radium and African ivory-- for both elegance and night visibility.

Seriously, though, bass wood is your friend here.  (And I do like the idea of borco, helpful for those blobular shapes.)

Apr 17, 18 5:16 pm

So things went well! I ended up using basswood for the inserts and foam board for the house (the latter of which was surprisingly tough). Above is a trashy pic my professor took to his Instagram. Don't worry, the professional grade ones are stored on my hard drive/cloud. 

Second year is well underway, now 

Sep 6, 18 11:29 pm

P.S. that huge crack down the middle is there cause It's a section model with some interior :)

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