The model taxonomy describes the model type and defines the scope the model investigates, together with scale, material, and detail.
A couple of samples are given to illustrate the descriptive nature of model types:
Scale is a defined property of a model that quantifies the relationship between the model and the real world in a precise manner. The distance of 1m becomes 1mm on the scale of 1:1000, and the same meter becomes 10mm on the scale of 1:100. This is inversely true for a 1mm object that is enlarged to 100mm on the scale of 100:1. This ingenious trick allows us to see the projects we work on from different distances to examine and establish relationships between the individual parts that are otherwise not visible.
Typical scales for architectural models are:
← 1:1000, 1:500, 1:200, 1:100, 1:50, 1:33, 1:20, 1:10, 1:5, 1:2 →
What is part of the model, what is not part of the model, and why? Answering this helps us to understand and identify the field of inquiry. It frames our research question and sharpens our understanding of our project. In model building, we do this in many ways — in a landscape model, we identify the perimeter; for a structural model, we identify and distinguish structurally relevant components from others — the essential criteria here is that the model frame includes all the necessary information, but not more.
With material, we refer to the materials that the model is made of. All materials have techniques and construction methods associated with them that are specific to the nature of the material itself. Choosing the right set of materials for a model is no trivial task and includes questions related to time, availability, cost, ease of use, ability to transform, workability, color, haptics, and aesthetics.
Models can either be mono-material or a mixture of different materials. Depending on the finishing, both of them can look similar. The appropriateness of a material is a question of the context in which the model is made. Naturally, there can be many different answers to what material is the right one for a specific task.
A model's level of detail or abstraction is up to a certain point predefined by its scale, material, and overall aesthetics. How detailed a model needs to be relative to its scale is mainly guided by convention and driven by aspects of communication and feasibility. The model should have all the necessary parts and details to answer the initially posed research question.