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Mariah Nielson

MA work

Title of Dissertation: Form Follows Culture: Architectural Models in London, 1970-1979

Architectural models, because of their tactility, materiality and temporality, have been marginalised throughout history. Considered less intellectual, artistic and honest than drawings, models have been relegated to the sidelines of architectural production. However, as liminal objects that straddle the contested and intangible line between thinking and making, art object and design tool, models present opportunities for the architect to express a range of objectives. A model’s dexterity as a design tool allows the architect to express, three-dimensionally and through materials, specific ideas and phenomena relevant to the projected building.

The representational nature of model construction and form is coded with idiosyncratic information about the designer, the maker and the society that produced them. Through an examination of architectural models made during the period 1970–79, my dissertation considers the relationship between models and the development of Postmodernism in London. I have been specifically interested in the various modes of architectural representation and communication that were developing as a reaction against the Modernist ideals of the previous decades. Symbolism, history, context, theatre and narrative were themes used to inform the conceptual and material process of making architectural models, and therefore architecture. My research brings together archival sources with oral histories and object-based research.

The case studies which structure my dissertation provide evidence of the acuity and value of models in articulating intellectual, visual, material and cultural priorities, and asserts the place of the model as a relevant tool for the architect and for the design historian.

Info

  • Mariah Nielson profile image
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2013

  • Title of Dissertation: Form Follows Culture: Architectural Models in London, 1970-1979

    Architectural models, because of their tactility, materiality and temporality, have been marginalised throughout history. Considered less intellectual, artistic and honest than drawings, models have been relegated to the sidelines of architectural production. However, as liminal objects that straddle the contested and intangible line between thinking and making, art object and design tool, models present opportunities for the architect to express a range of objectives. A model’s dexterity as a design tool allows the architect to express, three-dimensionally and through materials, specific ideas and phenomena relevant to the projected building.

    The representational nature of model construction and form is coded with idiosyncratic information about the designer, the maker and the society that produced them. Through an examination of architectural models made during the period 1970–79, my dissertation considers the relationship between models and the development of Postmodernism in London. I have been specifically interested in the various modes of architectural representation and communication that were developing as a reaction against the Modernist ideals of the previous decades. Symbolism, history, context, theatre and narrative were themes used to inform the conceptual and material process of making architectural models, and therefore architecture. My research brings together archival sources with oral histories and object-based research.

    The case studies which structure my dissertation provide evidence of the acuity and value of models in articulating intellectual, visual, material and cultural priorities, and asserts the place of the model as a relevant tool for the architect and for the design historian.

  • Degrees

  • BARCH, Architecture, California College of the Arts, 2005
  • Experience

  • Curator, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2009–11; Director, J B Blunk Estate, San Francisco, 2002–present; Architect, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, San Francisco, 2005–7
  • Exhibitions

  • Place Making: Installations at Hayes and Octavia, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2011; Crafting Architecture: Concept, Sketch, Model, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2011; FourSite: 4 Artists, 4 Material, 4 Sites, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2010
  • Awards

  • Winner, AIA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture and Design, 2005
  • Conferences

  • 'Site-Specific Design', Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2010; 'Studio Craft of Northern California', SF20, San Francisco, 2010; 'Dutch Design: Seeing Orange', Supernatural Gallery, San Francisco, 2010