The Architect and the Model

The Model Room as it was in 1837. Photo courtesy of the British Library, London.


“In my own practice I have seldom failed to have a Model of the Work proposed…I must add that wherever the Model has been dispensed with, I am afraid the building has suffered in consequence thereof, either in solidity or convenience, and perhaps in both.”
Sir John Soane, Lectures on Architecture, 1809-1836, (ed. A.T. Bolton, 1929).

“Sir John Soane was the most eccentric and creative English architect of the 19th century. His spatial creativity is captured in these beautiful models and I fully support this wonderful project.”
Richard Rogers, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

In late 2014, Sir John Soane’s Museum will open a remarkable new gallery that will display the largest collection of historical architectural models in the UK. The Model Room, on the second floor of 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, will become one of the highlights of the Museum and, for the first time since 1850, allow visitors to see this superb collection as originally intended, and importantly reveal how Soane used it to help his Royal Academy students learn about the history of architecture.

Forty-one exquisite models will be redisplayed, including cork models by Domenico Padiglione acquired in 1826 together with plaster of Paris models by François Fouquet acquired from Paris in 1834. Alongside these will be Soane’s own working models, all displayed in their original arrangements. In addition to the reinstatement of the Model Room, a further sixty-seven of Soane’s own models will be displayed across the Museum. Together these collections demonstrate the importance of the relationship between the architect and the model, and show how this is still as relevant today as it was in the 1830s.

In the twenty-first century models are still important and widely used by engineers, set designers, developers, planners and architects. The Museum wants to engage with this audience of professional model users and makers and initiate a regular programme of model-themed talks, workshops and activities. In addition, there may be opportunities for individuals or organizations to ‘adopt-a-model’ and help the Museum with the long-term challenge of restoring and caring for this unique collection.

If you would like to be part of this new initiative, we would be delighted to hear from you. We plan to organise a number of special events at the Museum in 2014 and we would be delighted if you would join us for one of these. Please get in touch with Charlotte Bassadone at (this email requires javascript).


François Fouquet plaster of Paris model, MR13, the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Photo by Robin Forster.


Domenico Padiglione cork model MR2, Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Photo by Hugh Kelly.

Posted on 24 January 2014 in Announcements
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