model is a partial or complete representation of a system or object (existing or planned) in order to test and validate certain aspects and / or behavior (functional model), or simply for fun purposes (model play) or informative (educational or commercial presentation of an achievement or project). The model can be made in two or three dimensions, on a given scale , most often reduced or enlarged to facilitate visualization or manipulation.

A volume model is a scaled-down 3D representation of a real construction or apparatus. The appearance of reality can be represented in detail or simplified (test model).

A model can be the set of parts used to make a model , or this finished model. It can also be a preliminary model for defining the appearance or organization of a publication, a project or a company.


The use of models has been known since antiquity (Cretan house, Egyptian ship, etc. found in the tombs) and throughout all ages: those that have come down to us are generally related to architecture, to the military arts ( plane-relief ) and navigation.


The model, physical or digital, is used for the design and communication of the project 1 :

  • The representation can be real on a given scale . An accessibility model is at scale 1, a compact architectural model is scaled down. The largest model in the world is the model of the solar system in Sweden, where the Sun-Pluto distance is 300 km .
  • The representation can be virtual: digital graphic model in 2 dimensions or in perspective, numerical model . The computational computer model , using computer-aided design (CAD), allows you to visualize the exterior and interior of an object, and to modify it easily and quickly.

The scale models are built by model masters, modelers or model makers: layout model, model map, layout model, topography model, dynamic model, technical model, industrial model modeling a process, architectural model, model of urbanization , landscape model, railway model, model ship, train, plane.

The qualification ” Qualibat ” o 7622, model (confirmed technicality) is attributed to “the company that creates and manufactures models, reduction models, dioramas, maps in relief, etc.  “.

In architecture

Vitruvius , the most renowned Roman architect and military engineer for his writings, considered the model only as a product of manual skill. But from the xv th century and even more in the xvi th century, the model serves “to show if the architect is capable and sufficient to lead a great work.”

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), the architect of the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence was commissioned in 1435 by the city of Florence to fortify the village of Vicopisano . He defends his project in front of a jury of two captains on a wooden model that he had made 2 .

It can also be of a documentary character (reconstitution of an ancient site) or military strategic (ex: relief plans of the fortifications of Vauban). In the Ancien Régime , the model played a vital role in the construction of the fortifications . The collection presented at the Musée des Plans-reliefs is the most prestigious illustration 3 . Created in 1668 by Louis XIV, it was executed by the engineers of the king to show the projects of the fortifications of the borders of France . The principle of these models was abandoned only around 1870.

Nowadays the representation can be voluminal or virtual, with a digital graphic model in 2 dimensions or in perspective, numerical model . The computational computer model , using computer-aided design (CAD), is used to visualize the interior of buildings and to move about. The advantage is the representation of what the eye sees, inside and out, with an illusion of the real perspectives, as well as the lighting conditions, according to the time, or even the climate. The making of a digital mock-up requires a lot of resources [ref. necessary] ; it can be longer to achieve than a traditional model if it is to recreate an existing building.

Educational models and heritage education

The model is a key tool in the methodology implemented in any heritage education approach, whether it is the object created by students at the instigation of a teacher or an external speaker , at school or at a heritage place, or an object designed on the initiative of an educational service and produced by a model-maker.

In France, a seminar organized in 1994 by the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie and the National Monuments Center in collaboration with the DRAC of Picardy and the Association for Cultural Heritage and its pedagogy has made it possible to draw up a typology of experiences carried out and existing models to gather the elements allowing to write a standard specifications . These specifications must, in fact, lead to the development of any model, whatever the framework of action: design, order, manufacture, use, etc. 4

In hydraulics

In hydraulics , the model is widely used for fluid mechanics studies such as dikes , beaches , dams , ships , etc. Is used in these cases the similarity of the Froude number . Specialized engineers in this field distinguish the “model” from the “model”: the (reduced) model is the whole subject of the study (for example a port or a beach) whereas the model is the reproduction a structure that is part of the reduced model (eg a dike portion or a boat).

The first scale models of the dams were built in the 1920s for the needs of the white coal in the wake of Aristide Bergès for the paper industry in the Grenoble region. Since then, these techniques have been applied with great success to fluvial flows with free surface possibly with funds called “mobile” to simulate erosion under the effect of currents.

The first coastal scale models were built in the 1940s. Modeling techniques have been steadily improving and have now achieved high reliability in the areas of marine structure stability and erosion / sedimentation. beaches and estuaries, as a result of currents and / or waves .


Related article: Model making .

Modeling or model making is a technical hobby that consists in reproducing a real object on a given scale , generally reduced 5 , with more or less precision and more or less functionalities comparable to those of the real model.

Modeling seems to designate rather the realization of static models. The model ship , for example, and distinguishes between and maquettisme model with the creation of models (exposure patterns) and navigators models Ref.  desired] .

The model railroad meets maquettisme and model , in the sense that the environment model is the setting and support the model of the train. Model railroading is often considered as a model-making activity, because the realization of the network (improperly called “circuit”) is put forward in relation to the manufacture or the detail of the model railway. The term “model rail” is still the most used.


The model can have a sketch, project and / or test character. At the scale 1: 1, it can serve as a matrix , for example a molding profile for flask, plane, automobile … It may be a miniature built decor for animation or special effects of movies.


The reduced exposure models are usually referred to models , while simplified models, representing only the shapes of the ship, destined for towing tank tests are also referred models, test models or basin models 6 .

Since the early 1970s, models of ships are also used for the training of seamen in ship handling the Training Center of Port Revel 7 .

Publishing and Advertising

In the edition ( literary edition , advertising , etc. ), the model is the preliminary draft of a publication to judge its aspect before final realization. The resolution of technical difficulties, including typography and layout , but also the artistic invention , including the originality of the binding , are the domain of the modeler who can work with a draftsman – illustrator or a graphic designer for what concerns the illustrations .

The model can have a character of draft, project and / or test (advertising model). It can be a guide document (teaching model). With regard to stamp models, see: proofs and essays in philately .


  • Monique Mosser , researcher at the CNRS, Educational models (raising awareness among young audiences), “The architectural foreshadowing in France: The use of models and architectural foreshadowing in France in the classical era” , vol.  1, Paris, Center for National Monuments
  • René Dinkel , The Encyclopaedia of Heritage (Historical Monuments, Built and Natural Heritage – Protection, Restoration, Regulation, Doctrines – Techniques – Practices) , Paris, editions The Encyclopedias of Heritage,, 1512 p. ( ISBN  2-911200-00-4 )
    Notice Society for the Protection of landscapes and aesthetics of France (SPPEF), pp. 1180 to 1185; Chapter V Pedagogy and research through illustration and documentation: I- The ancient sources pp. 134 to 137; 2- The constitution of new sources: pp. 128 to 140, 3- The means of the project and pedagogy: pp. 140 to 143 Models
  • Architectural models  [ archive ] , Moniteur Library
  • 3D printing of study and urban models  [ archive ]
  • Conservation – Restoration of an architecture model at 1 / 200th of Monaco  [ archive ]
  • What is the difference between model and model?  [ archive ]

Related Articles

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • Mockups , on Wikimedia Commons
  • Map-relief
  • Plamo
  • Model (typography)
  • Demo (music) , or model, in music
  • Mock-up
  • Acrystal
  • History & Modeling
  • Mathematical model (object)
  • Scale models

External links

  • Make an architectural model (cardboard, wood, etc …)  [ archive ]
  • Architectural models  [ archive ]
  • Models and models of architecture  [ archive ] , Paris City Hall, Carnavalet history of Paris

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Considering that the model is a design tool, essential to the study and presentation of an architectural project, Wilmotte & Associés SA since 2008 has its own model shop  [ archive ]
  2. ↑ Giovanni Ranieri-Fascetti, The fortificazioni di Vico Pisano , Pisa (Edizioni ETS) 1998. Philibert de L’Orme dedicated to model the entire chapter XI of Book I. (Delorme, First volume of architecture, in Paris Frédéric Morel 1567).
  3. ↑ At the National Hotel des Invalides in Paris , and those in the North , Lille .
  4. ↑ The educational models and their use  [ Archive ] – Association for the cultural heritage and its educational, seminar involving the North, Picardy and Upper Normandy, Chateau de Pierrefonds , 11-15 July 1994
  5. ↑ Very frequent 1:72 or 1:48 scale for aircraft models
  6. ↑ manual calculation Basin of Paris Carinae; “Naval Architecture”, Paulet-Presles
  7. ↑ ( en ) Port Revel (  [ archive ]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *