Making a Site Model – The Outpost Project

Building an architectural site model with 50+ layers of cork for the Outpost project. Follow along as I share my tips for constructing + assembling a contoured site model including trees and water as we enter the schematic design phase for this new residential project.

Find all the materials used here:

Topics covered:
(0:14) How to choose a scale for your model (this one is 3/32″=1-0″)
(2:36) Sizing + material selection
(4:20) Prepping the blanks
(5:20) Cutting the contours
(8:09) Assembly: glue + fasteners
(11:55) Trees: lots of tips + tricks
(13:46) Water, the easy way

This model was constructed using 1/8″ thick (nominal, 3/32″ actual) cork flooring underlayment at a scale of 3/32″=1′-0″. Modeling cork is available in precut sheets and although it’s slightly better quality, it’s a lot more expensive. Alternative contour materials to consider would be: corrugated cardboard, chipboard, wood (ply, MDF), museum board, or sheet insulation. Remember that each material has a labor cost associated with it too. Having made models from every one of the listed materials, cork is easy to work with especially as compared with MDF or even chipboard. And, because it’s self-healing, it neatly conceals any construction errors.

I didn’t discuss this in the video, but I chose to stack full flat layers rather than cut small strips at the contour edges as I’ve always preferred the look of the stacked layers in the finished build. If you choose to cut strips for the each contour, they’re difficult to align and you have to build an interior support structure as well as a perimeter band to conceal the fact that it’s not solid. To me, that’s less efficient than using solid, stacked layers.

Building physical models has always been a part of my design process it’s a form of three-dimensional sketching. Many skip this in favor of building digital models only, which I understand, but i feel this produces better results for me. I’ll be using this in upcoming client meetings and discussions as we move forward with the design for my client’s home.

// GEAR I USE //

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