On the subject of computer models replacing modelmakers, naturally 3dd remains positive. 'There are a variety of ways to present architecture,' notes Lee Atkins. 'Computer images are one method and can be very effective. But for a long time we've quite happily co-existed with perspectives, and now we co-exist comfortably with computer graphics. The clincher, however, is that if a picture tells a thousand words, one of our models tells a thousand pictures. In addition, it is possible to make a superb simplified model with a limited budget, whereas simplified perspectives and computer graphics can look crude by comparison.'
Nonetheless, 3dd continues to invest in computer technology, having just set up a fourth cadcam station. 'It's a matter of moving as the client world moves and responding to the globalisation of the profession,' says Atkins. He recalls a recent project: 'In one day, digital information was flowing between London and Hong Kong, and we had the task of building a presentation-quality model from continuously changing designs. Client confidence is such that they rely on our systems to collate and edit information from diverse sources.'
Modelmaking is all about presentation. A logical extension of this is 3dd's bespoke sample boards which many architects and designers use for full-size demonstrations of wall and floor surfaces, fittings and other uses
Reality has its quirks: The photos of this facade of the model for Holford Associates' Deansgate building in Manchester convinced potential tenants that it was the real thing. A number of them telephoned to express interest in taking space - and demanding to know exactly where in central Manchester it had been built