Tangaroa College Bespoke Shelving Project

14 lessons

Making models to solve problems

Now it gets a little crafty! It's time to make some models using both cardboard and in CAD software. This process is really helpful to begin to see your ideas (and all your potential problems) in 3D. It's important to remember to use scale during this process. That means, deciding on your measurements and making models that are small versions of your ideas. This will also help you nut out issues with proportion.

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Equipment and tools

  • Workbook/ digital portfolio
  • Pen/pencil
  • Laptop/computer
  • Cardboard to construct your model/ scissors, masking tape
  • Camera to photograph models
  • CAD software (Sketch Up is a good place to start)

Guiding questions

  • What is a functional model?
  • What is a scale model?
  • What scale should I use?
  • What information am I trying to get out of my models?
  • Why is functional modelling so important during the design process?

Lesson content

A functional model is something a designer does to help them figure out, wait for it, functional problems. Yeah, clue is in the name. The word model refers to a representation of an object. A functional model can be a physical representation (cardboard, foam, 3D printed sculpture etc.) or a digital representation (3D model, render and arguably a technical drawing).

A scale model is a model, either physical or digital, is where the measurements/ size of the object is accurate but has been (usually) reduced to a specified scale. In Product Design and Architectural Design specific scales are used depending on context. Basically; different scales for different fields and different scales for different models.

The purpose of these models is to figure out what our ideas look like in 3D space and to note any issues the ideas present around construction, form and function. 

Instructions - card model

  1. 1


    Referring to your final drawing of the last lesson, compile the feedback you got. Then modify this final drawing based on the feedback you received and any new ideas you want to include. In short, get your ideas ready to GO!


    Hollie's refined ideas after feedback

  2. 2

    1: xx

    Make a 1:xx (decide with your teacher the appropriate size) scale model of your top two design ideas using card.

  3. 3


    Take photographs of your scale model from different views/angles and upload to your portfolio if working digitally. It's good practice to photograph your models - mostly because they are easily damaged, but it's also helpful to have a record of your design ideas for future.


    Hollie's 1st idea

  4. 4


    Get stakeholder feedback again and make notes where necessary.


    Hollie's thoughts after feedback

Hollie's card models

  1. Hollie's card models

    Idea 01

  1. Hollie's card models

    Idea 02

Instructions - CAD model

  1. 1

    Rinse + repeat!

    From here it's much the same except using CAD to do your modelling.

    • Take your ideas into a 3D software such as Sketch Up
    • Decide on your scale
    • Build your models - don't get hung up on rendering materials at this stage
    • Save multiple views and present to your stakeholder for feedback
    • Consolidate ideas and feedback into your workbook/ digital portfolio

Hollie's examples

  1. Hollie's examples

    Idea 01 in CAD with evaluation

  1. Hollie's examples

    Idea 02 in CAD with evaluation

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Construction Research & Testing