Call for Papers: The Architectural Model as Tool, Medium and Agent of Change. Architectural Theory Review

Special issue of Architectural Theory Review, edited by Matthew Mindrup and Matthew Wells

The architectural model has long held an important role in the edification of buildings, not least as a descriptive tool, a source of inspiration and a medium for studying new designs. Since around the fifteenth century it has served primarily as an explanatory guide for clients and builders, but there is ample evidence to support the view that it also played an important role in the generation and formulation of new designs over that same timespan, during critical moments of change in social, technical or even institutional practices. This latter role is often overlooked in architectural history and theory, even though it enjoys a similar longevity. Addressing this lacuna, we seek submissions that examine architectural modelling practices and theories which emerged from or helped to define critical moments of evolution in the history of architecture. This special issue will show how the employment of architectural models in these instances is a crucial indication of architecture’s history and capacity the discipline’s capacity for self-reflection.

Whether physical, conceptual, or digital, models stand somewhere between theoretical concepts and contingent realities, reflective of both settings, thereby allowing us to use them as instruments in our understanding of both situations. Long familiar in the sciences is the transition in cosmology from a Ptolemaic cosmology to a Copernican one. Recent research has taken a closer look at similar roles which the architectural model has had on architectural practice including the commercialisation of model making practices upon design during the post-war years in the United States; the role of paper in translating drawings to models in sixteenth-century Italy, the effect of artists and art practice on architectural models in the education of German architects during the early twentieth century and the emergence of the digital model in construction practices over the past thirty years.

The wide range of ways in which the model affects change in architectural culture warrants closer inspection. What are the “theories” that motivate the form and function of models for architecture in those moments? The Architectural Theory Review invites authors to consider this problem from any angle, reading the model in the broadest terms possible. Submissions may consider with new questions cases of apparently canonical importance, or address the ideas and projects of underrepresented practitioners and organizations. They might consider instances in which models (or practices involving the model, or modelling) have become sites of disciplinary adoration and/or discursive attention. How has the architectural model been an essential tool, medium or agent of change? This number of ATR hopes to shed light on a still relatively scarce archive of architectural modelling practices that motivates and mobilizes individuals, institutions and industries to rethink the built environment.

The editors seek papers that fall into one of four categories:

  • Modelling change – how can models (and their exhibition) be seen and understood as lodestars for critical moments of change in architectural culture?
  • Modelling theories – what particular moments or epochs in architectural theory were particularly concerned with conceptualising the model or, likewise, how were theories of architecture affected by models themselves?
  • New materials and techniques – what new model-making materials and tools, as well as the role of models (and mock-ups) emerged to advance the testing of particular formal, material, structural or technical solutions? How did new model-making materials and tools suggest new roles for the model, and how did this inform new developments in architectural practice and pedagogy?
  • Agency of the architect-as-model-maker – what is the model-maker’s role as an actor in the production of the built environment? Either as an architect, or as a practitioner in their own right? What can the examination of model-makers within architectural practices and those without tell us about their role in architectural culture?

The editors welcome the submission of previously unpublished, research-based writing that addresses these questions. Scholarly texts of between 4000 and 8000 words (including notes) will undergo double-blind, peer review. Although authors are invited to submit papers on people, places, and projects across the globe, all submissions must be written in (or translated into) English for consideration.

The deadline for the submission of completed manuscripts is 30 September 2020. Please submit manuscripts to the journals website. The Editors welcome expressions of interest prior to paper submissions and are available for discussing possible contributions. For any questions regarding this issue please contact:

Matthew Mindrup (

Matthew Wells (

Manuscript submission guidelines can be found on the Architectural Theory Review website.

This call for papers can also be downloaded here.


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


©2020 EAHN Participating Members Area

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account