How effective is the use of paper modelling to teach in the study of architecture



Need your views on the topic "Use of paper modelling techniques in the study of architecture" as part of a research that I am undertaking. I plan to use the results of the survey to publish a book on the use of paper modelling in architecture.

Please do let me know your views on this topic. Would really help to understand from an architects perspective if the use of paper modelling as a method for teaching concepts of architecture is a GO or NO GO.


Jul 30, 13 9:56 am

we had  study project that began we creating a form out of a piece of paper with only one cut, then two, then three and so on. after the cut was made each side had to be reattached. 

like I said this was just the genesis of the project, but it seemed very useful for getting us to think a little differently. unfortunately I don't know much else about how it was taught, seeing as I was a student.

Jul 30, 13 10:19 am
What do you mean by paper modeling?
Jul 30, 13 10:27 am
What do you mean by paper modeling?
Jul 30, 13 11:02 am

I may be going out on a limb here but any kind of modeling is effective!

Jul 30, 13 2:00 pm

yeah what do you mean by paper?  do you mean just small scale modeling in general?

Jul 30, 13 8:32 pm

Paper modeling is a critical function that teaches plan reading, scale,  visualization, problem solving, experimentation , etc. among other things. Also stimulates the imagination in ways that computer models can't and never will. Making things is a basic and essential skill for all creative professions.

As long as it isn't done like the Gehry model, of course. Any fucking idiot can do that. 

Jul 30, 13 8:45 pm

I agree with Miles. I just finished up my second graduate semester studio at Illinois-Chicago and the entire studio was predicated on building paper models, establishing one concept through development of an idea that is a direct resultant of iterative process of paper modelling.  Check out some photos and write up here:

Jul 30, 13 9:44 pm
I figure architecture is always modeling something on paper before you build it. Thusly ::::::>>> critical.
Jul 30, 13 10:58 pm

Thanks to all.

By paper modelling, I mean the use of paper as a medium to understand the concepts of architecture design. The objective is to present to students techniques of using paper to build concept models and experiment with designs.

The premise for this is that paper provides a realistic idea on the feasibility of the full scale model (although computer designs will also be able to validate this) by providing a feel of the real thing. 

Do let me know your thoughts on the objective and premise.


Jul 31, 13 6:13 am

When you say paper modeling techniques in architecture, it makes me think of topological studies, like Mobius strips (which I just noticed got a mention on Thread Central this morning too). Studying topology through physical objects is very different than studying on the computer. Although computers have very powerful abilities to make and express surface and form, studying topology through a physical medium is multi-sensory, and therefore has more learning opportunities. We had a good studio project where we had to choose a simple yet complex 3-D object (like a spoon) out of a flat piece of paper. I thought it was very beneficial. But that is my opinion, I am not much of a computer modeler, so maybe I'm biased, but no matter what is on the screen, when you lick it, it ALWAYS feels like a cool plane of glass...

Jul 31, 13 8:21 am

The answer to the forum question is, yes.  Using paper as a medium for architecture 3D model study, from spatial to conceptual, can be quite limitless...

Below is a link to show an example of this, a site model I did for my thesis project and a link to a full movie of "between the folds" which you may find helpful.

and yes do lick the screen, hmmm glass =)

Jul 31, 13 8:49 am

I think physical models are definitely essential in the learning process. They don't have to be made of paper though. I don't think paper in itself has any inherent benefit, versus, say, wood, or cardboard, or mesh, or metal. 

Jul 31, 13 9:32 am

Paper is an ideal material for modeling. Cheap, plentiful, recyclable, easy to work, adopts various structural properties based on configuration, etc.  Cardboard is simply stiffer paper. Wood, metal etc. all require some degree of technology and training to manipulate. Paper can be worked with rudimentary tools or without tools at all. This allows students to focus on what is being modeled rather than the process of construction. 

Jul 31, 13 10:02 am

it doesn't matter what you use, whether its paper, wood, rocks, ice, branches or anything else, if you suck at teaching, nothing will matter xD

just because someone is using paper to build models doesn't necessarily mean they'll learn more if all they're doing is making boxes compared to that crazy guy modelling on computer with a million ideas in his head

Jul 31, 13 5:59 pm

I think that part of the confusion going on here is that there is a substantial difference between literally constructing a model out of paper, which is done occasionally but not frequently in architecture, and the idea of architectural model making in general which would be done out of a certain set of materials which are considered standard for model-making such as chipboard and basswood. Paper isn't typically used for serious model making since it has less structural rigidity than other materials, but it has some advantages where it is easy to cut and can be folded into a wider range of unusual/curved forms compared to a thicker material. Typically paper would be used for quick study models, whereas chipboard and sometimes cardboard can be used for both studies (including more in-depth/sophisticated study models) and final presentation models.

Jul 31, 13 6:14 pm

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