Client Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust
Dimensions 750mm(l) x 200mm(w) x 550mm(h)
Time to make 1 week
Materials Laser-cut plywood and acrylic, 3D printed items
Model makers Paul Miles and Jonny Prevc
We go behind the scenes of the Make modelshop to find out how the team created one of their most impressive works to date, the 1:100 scale model of our new design for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.
In November 2016 Make won a competition to design a new home for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) in the heart of the town’s burgeoning cultural quarter, next to the Wyvern Theatre. The new building will showcase Swindon’s wide-ranging collection of artefacts, from prehistoric fossils to Roman pottery, and one of the UK’s most important collections of modern and contemporary British art. As a venue, it will engage the public with event spaces, learning centres, and galleries flexible enough to host the museum’s unique permanent collection and visiting exhibitions alike. The public realm around the building will provide a civic square and routes linking to the rest of the town centre and the Old Town.
As part of the competition entry, we created a 1:100 scale model of our proposed design in a natural palette. The 3DS MAX renders were worked up in Rhino CAD modelling software, and the design was split into a series of 2D components for laser-cutting and 3D components for printing, all to be done in-house.
The 2D elements included the floorplates, core and fins, for which we used plywood, and the glazing, which we did with acrylic. These formed the structure of the model and were designed to fit together like a jigsaw, so the floorplates interlocked with the core, and the fins with the floorplates. Plywood was the material of choice as it allowed us to make the fine perforations defining the fins, and was easy to bend into the curved shape of the building’s envelope. The plinth the model sits on is a hollow box, also made from plywood, so despite its size, it’s relatively light and portable!
We 3D-printed a series of miniature display cases and artefacts that reflect SMAG’s real collection, including mannequins in costumes and a collection of typewriters, to bring the model to life. An absolute must was including a tiny replica of Apsley the gharial (a type of crocodile), the museum’s star attraction (pictured). These elements were spray-painted in copper tones to create focal points that draw people’s attention inside the model, and secured using PVA glue. We also 3D-printed all sets of stairs, the rooftop beehives, and people and trees to animate the scene and illustrate landscaping potential, both in and around the building.
One of the final touches was laser-engraving a reimagined Swindon Museum and Gallery logo, which our Graphics team designed, onto the main entrance wall.
Model on tour
The model is now with the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, where it will hopefully help them to secure the remaining funding they need to realise this new landmark for the town. Before settling there, in March 2017 the model took centre stage at the Osborne Samuel gallery in Mayfair, alongside artwork from the museum’s collection, to help raise awareness of the project.