Depending on the purpose, models can be made from a variety of materials, including blocks, paper, and wood, and at a variety of scales.
Architectural models are used by architects for a range of purposes:
- Ad hoc models, or sketch models, are sometimes made to study the interaction of volumes, different viewpoints, or concepts during the design process. They may also be useful in explaining a complicated or unusual design to builders, or as a focus for discussion between designers and consultants such as architects, engineers and town planners.
- Presentation models can be used to exhibit, visualise or sell a final design. A model are also used as show pieces, for instance as a feature in the reception of a building, or as part of a museum exhibition such as scale replicas of historical buildings.
Types of models include:
- Exterior models are models of buildings which usually include some landscaping or civic spaces around the building.
- Interior models are models showing interior space planning, finishes, colors, furniture and beautification.
- Landscaping design models are models of landscape design and development representing features such as walkways, small bridges, pergolas, vegetation patterns and beautification. Landscaping design models usually represent public spaces and may, in some cases, include buildings as well.
- Urban models are models typically built at a much smaller scale (starting from 1:500 and less, 1:700, 1:1000, 1:1200, 1:2000, 1:20 000), representing several city blocks, even a whole town or village, large resort, campus, industrial facility, military base and so on. Urban models are a vital tool for town/city planning and development. Urban models of large urban areas are displayed at museums such as the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Queens Museum in New York, the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, and the Singapore City Gallery.
- Engineering and construction models show isolated building/structure elements and components and their interaction.