Back in the day, when I started model making, finding information regarding the wider context for a model was pretty tricky. Well, that wasn’t that long ago, but a lot has changed since.
What is wider context for a model?
When a model is required for showing a proposed building in relation to the surrounds, the model can be 90% (or more) wider context, while the site in question can account for only a small part of the model making job. Usually the architect will supply an OS survey of the area to be modelled, but this will only show building footprints, and I will have to acquire the building heights and roof forms from other sources.
So what’s changed?
I started in the model making world as a freelancer, and the company where I worked, in Glasgow, had one main source of information for gathering information about wider context: Glasgow The Photographic Atlas. In addition to this, we had our own knowledge, and perhaps some photos from street level if anyone had been to the site. If the site was outside of Glasgow, well, we just guessed! So we’d look at tiny aerial photos in this atlas (which is an amazing book, by the way), and tried to figure it out - ‘is that a flat roof?’ ‘Is that building taller than it’s neighbour?’ ‘Is that a building or a lorry?!’
Since then, of course, has been the development of Google Maps. First, satellite images, then Street View, then 3D, fully manoeuvrable view. Now, in any moment of uncertainty about an existing building, I just turn round to my computer, type in a postcode, and can have a good look at most buildings from most angles. No, it’s not a perfect substitute for a survey and drawing, but when there’s wider context required for the model, it’s a great tool and aid to model making.