A Conversation with… Model Maker Patrick Bil

4 September 2017

Hereby, we present our new section “In conversation with…”; in this issue we talk to a Team V employee with a special story; Patrick Bil, the Architectural Model Maker of Team V. In addition to his own architectural firm, he works at Team V creating beautiful scale models of the office’s projects. Recently he constructed a special model of ‘Het Gelders Huis’ in Arnhem, what does he like about scale modelling and what is so special about the Gelders Huis model?

Can you tell us more about your passion and motivation to become a scale model builder?

My passion for model making began at a young age. As a child I used to create wonderful handmade lampions for Saint Martin (a traditional Dutch celebration), this appreciation for creating objects by hand was reawakened  when I discovered the scale model hall at the Technical University in Delft. Other students translated their design into a final model, whereas I used modelling as part of the design process. By making series of models I was able to test and develop my projects, an enjoyable method of working which is also central to Team V’s process. The beautiful thing about scale models is that you create something physical, something tangible, it is completely different from the sketches, drawings and renderings, which are only two-dimensional.

What was so special about the Gelders Huis model?

For the first six months of working at Team V, I made all of the models by hand, which was very labour intensive and required a lot of patience! The Gelders Huis model was my first model using the laser cutter. The approach required was very different and I had to completely alter my technique. In the end I managed to fully explore the laser cutter’s boundaries (and my own boundaries as well) and it’s great to be able to see such an accurate and high level of detail in the scale model which is now being translated into reality as the Gelder Huis develops on site.

Which Team V project did you find the most special and could you tell me something about it?

The ‘Op Dreef‘ Overvecht project was very nice, it also perfectly demonstrates how we developed the design using models over the course of the project. This was a very enjoyable process where, all parties involved felt that we were doing something special. Being selected as the competition winner made it even more fun.

How do you start building a scale model?

The process of building a model depends on the scale. The bigger the scale, the more parts and details. At larger scales, it is almost the same as building at the actual size. You start with the construction of the walls and floors, and lastly add the façade. Before the laser cutting can begin, the building must firstly be drawn in AutoCAD. Unfortunately this does not mean that architectural drawings can be sent to the machine directly, the laser burns a small amount of material which means redeveloping the drawings into the component building parts for the model. The laser cutter reads the DXF files and the laser head simply follows a drawn line. As with real constructions, there is a good deal of time in preparation and drawing.

Do you always use the same material?

When I started at Team V, I mainly worked with paper and cardboard, now with the laser cutter I mainly use MDF and acrylic. Other plastics also work, but they often melt too much at the edges, making them not as accurate. PVC cannot be cut by the laser because the fumes are highly toxic and corrosive for the machine.

Which building would you most like to make a scale model of?

I find the best models to make are the ones which I do not know exactly how to start before I make them. Using a little ingenuity and inventiveness during the process only makes it more interesting. Sometimes things go wrong, but luckily I still manage to extinguish all the fires (literally) without a fire extinguisher!


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