Art and the Architectural Model: Contemporary Case Studies and Analysis

By Christopher Lauriat.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Based on centuries of craft and application, the projective and documentary utility of architectural models to represent full-scale designs is relatively well understood in both the discipline of architecture and the public realm. The 1976 ‘Idea as Model’ exhibition and subsequent publications recognize the conceptual model and its potential to transcend modes of presentation. This new criticality through architectural miniatures opens up new avenues of exploration in three-dimensional models, which are certainly not limited to the realm of architecture. This paper investigates the contemporary artistic appropriation of the architectonic miniature for purposes other than representing architecture.

For some of the artists included in this survey, the model is but one experiment in a portfolio of varied media and formats, while for others, the model appears in the majority of their oeuvre. In virtually all cases, the concept or intention behind the work is not primarily focused on architecture, but the artist uses the form of buildings and landscapes to introduce the issues important to him or her. The use of the architectural model as a sculptural format is accomplished at varying levels of abstraction, from precisely scaled museum board buildings, to a city made of poker chips. For the purposes of analysis, artists have been paired in three loose categories based on their work’s relative level of abstraction from the conventional model format. The cases include works by Mike Kelley, Joel Stoehr, Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell, Nathan Coley, Zhong Kangjun, and Liu Jianhua. This paper attempts to elucidate these artworks’ relationship to models in architectural design, while also illustrating how the model has become a useful format for non-architects.

Keywords: Architecture, Design, Art, Model, Miniature, Sculpture

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.287-302. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 8.373MB).

Christopher Lauriat

Architect, Wheaton, Illinois, USA

Christopher Lauriat is an architect practicing in the Chicago area. Prior to forming his own firm, Mr. Lauriat worked as a Project Architect for Pappageorge Haymes Partners. He holds a Master of Architecture from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Ball State University. Mr. Lauriat is currently an adjunct faculty member at Judson University and Westwood College - O’Hare Campus.


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