Guest Lecture Series

M J Wells

© DAM und OMA, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Matthias Sauerbruch \ Foto: Hagen Stier

Utopia, instrument, and tool: A thematic history of the architectural model

Dr Matthew Wells

Tuesday 19th February, 5.00pm

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Modelling – the act of making physical objects to represent ideas – is one of the primary ways that humans interact with the material world. Whether as a demonstration, experiment, or proposition, architectural models have the ability to record, alter, and remake society and culture at large. Today, despite advances in computer-generated-images, throughout the world physical models are used to both record lost monuments and project future buildings in exhibitions, classrooms, and developers’ marketing suites. Prior to construction, through the powers of abstraction and miniaturisation, the production of models allows buildings and monuments to be comprehended, understood, and discussed by a wide range of actors from different disciplinary backgrounds. Based on the author’s doctoral work on the topic, this lecture will explore a host of thematic issues around the use of the architectural model including the effects of scale, notions of truth, and the representation of materials, places, and political power. 


Dr Matthew Wells is a post-doctoral researcher and a lecturer in the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at the ETH Zürich.