Shaping Space – Architectural models treasure trove

November 21, 2022

Shaping Space – Architectural Models in Context was an exhibition and events program exploring the significance of model making. It was the result of a collaboration between the V&A Research Institute (VARI) and the Building Centre

We have now brought together all legacy material in one place for you to discover and enjoy.

Virtual, Curator-led Exhibition Tours and Practitioners’ Voices

Let Shaping Space curators Vanessa Norwood, Harriet Jennings and Simona Valeriani take you on exhibition tours exploring how, why and for whom models are made. Or catch up on our events. A variety of practitioners told us about how they use models in their work. Listen, for example, to Forensic Architecture and Allison Killing. They discussed the role of models in human rights investigations. Additionally, you can watch Feilden Fowles and Stanton Williams reflect on the use of physical models in contemporary architectural practice

Explore Selected Models: Their History, Collecting, Exhibiting

Immerse yourself in modelmaking. Browse through selected architectural models and learn about their history, documentation and preservation. You can catch up on Unpacking Bags. You will discover  the design and curation processes behind a major V&A exhibition. Besides, why not explore different approaches to collecting models? We recorded a conversation between the V&A, the RIBA and Drawing Matter.

Materials, Making Makers

Moreover, the curios mind can discover production techniques and get fascinating insights from model makers. Watch, for instance, Andy Gent showing how he designs and produces  models and puppets for stop motion animation. In addition, you can listen to our interviews with Dow Jones and Zaha Hadid Architects. Alternatively, hear modelmakers George Rome-Innes and Pipers reflecting on their practice. Last but not least, you can watch a film about the making of a Royal Albert Hall’s replica model.

Models in Education: Learning with the Body

The Shaping Space project ran also a series of schools’ workshops and educational events. Sixth formers learnt about possible careers in architecture. Besides, everyone can find out more about models in architectural education in our dedicated space.

Alongside the exhibition, we hosted workshops for school children. Led by our Learning Coordinator, Rebecca Goozee, pupils discovered the principles of architectural model making. They experienced different modelling materials and tried their hand at a range of modelling practices not commonly delivered in the classroom. In two short films we explore the role of the body, making and materials in learning how to critically engage with our environments.

Models in Education: Free Teachers’ Resources

Teachers can find the video recordings of three continued professional development (CDP) sessionsAdditionally, we produced free teaching resourcesThis material supports the use of architectural model making practices in the classroom. We hope it will inspire you. Also, food for thought is available in a video of the workshop we run with the Giant Doll’s House project. See how to create miniature worlds within shoe boxes.  

We hope you will enjoy browsing and using this wealth of resources! Let us know what you think.


The project leader was Dr. Simona Valeriani. Co-investigator was Dr. Marta Ajmar. Vanessa Norwood, Simona Valeriani, Harriet Jennings and Mathilde Savary curated the exhibition. Roz Bar Architects designed the show, with graphic Design by Studio Matthias Clottu. The learning program was coordinated and delivered by Rebecca Goozee. The MAP laboratory of the French CNRS supported the digital outputs. We are very grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the funding.

About the author

November 21, 2022

I am Head of Early Modern Studies in the V&A's Research Institute (VARI). The History of Architecture and of Technology are my main research interests. Currently I am working on...

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