True to form

What is our fascination with architectural models?

COMMENT, Design

What is our fascination with architectural models? Whether they're being used to entice us to purchase a property from a shopping mall real-estate agent or displayed at a tradeshow to il­lustrate a changing region, we are drawn to them.

Maybe we enjoy the omnipo­tent feeling of gazing upon our own Lilliputian world. Perhaps scale models instil in us feelings of simplicity and tranquility in increasingly uncertain times.

Maybe we're attracted to them as men who misspent their youth playing with action figures and women who hosted dollhouse tea parties. Or, perhaps we simply admire the skill and craftsman­ship it takes to create a world that is at once eerily real and clearly fake.

Of course, the fascination only intensifies when we find our­selves staring at a plasma screen watching a live family eat dinner in a gorgeous new hi-rise apart­ment when neither the apartment nor the family exists outside the digital realm.

The point is, we've become increasingly reliant on the skill of the model-maker to define our understanding of architecture.

Because of the speed of development in the Middle East, so much of the architecture that strikes awe in us, exists only in model form. It begs the ques­tion, have the completed build­ings become anticlimactic after seeing the intricacy and detail of the models?

Sometimes, because of the incredible dynamism of both physical and digital models, I think we, as viewers, fail to appreciate the completed built environment. As we search for the next great organic or decon­structivist masterpiece, we tend to lose sight of the architecture in front of us.

After staring at numerous models of what the Middle East will be, are we left unsatisfied when we see what it is?

Not so much a criticism of the modelling industry as a testament to it, our short-sightedness is a tragedy nonetheless.

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