Architectural models typically fall into one of three categories: sales models, development models, and planning models. There are varied forms and materials in architectural model making. Each works to assist in accurately detailing the look of the full scale design.
A basic model will be done with block forms. These offer very limited detail and can be made using special card box or foam tooling board. Another option is styrene which can be used in place of the card box.
More detailed models will be made using laser cut styrene or acrylic sheet. Additional details will be cut into the model such as windows and details of the elevation. With some types and scales of developments there may also be interior details included in the architectural model.
Giving consideration to the delicate nature of design materials is always key in model construction. Regardless of the purpose for your model, it can pose quite a roadblock when there are material issues that create design defects. This is commonly find in lighting use with certain of the new acrylic materials that are becoming more popular. Too much application of heat can cause warping and melting within the project and spoil the design effect.
More and more companies are finding it helpful to use 3D software to design architectural models. This eliminates the need for concern in areas of lighting and other aspects of material sensitivity. While it does not provide the same effect as a physical model, 3D software eliminates materials costs on this level of construction and can be outsourced quite easily.
The materials used in architectural model making have varied over time. They are generally chosen for their cost-effectiveness and the ability of to be easily manipulated for construction. Online researching can reveal a thorough list of the most common materials that are presently used in architectural models and the reason for their prevalence.