Far away from the main visitor route, there’s a large room high up in the V&A museum full of architectural models.
It’s one of the joys of architecture that usually before a big building is built, a little one is made first – the model, to show off the concepts. Although slightly reduced in importance by computers, many architects still find that a physical representation of a building is the best way to decide if a design will work.
This is a room packed full of such models, some showing off the detailing of the finish to be applied, right up to large scale visions of an entire housing estate.
The space-age, flying saucer design for Gatwick Airport was at the time revolutionary, as it gave passengers for the first time, direct covered access from terminal to aircraft.
The choice of plywood for the model of the Southbank complex seems curiously apt for the centre, in its modernist design and decor, even if the model is now glued to the wall above your heads and a bit difficult to appreciate. Maybe they are testing the SouthBank’s resilience to a catastrophic flipping of planet earth onto its side?
Large scale models of the Houses of Parliament, to a single gothic-inspired iron column from a railway station, to scale models of churches grand and small.
Some of the models are garish in colour, as part of the reason for some of them is to demonstrate structural issues, and this hideous confection is the abandoned plan for the V&A itself. The colours, fortunately, being representations of structural stresses, not the finished building itself.
As a display, it’s pretty much a random collection of models showing off different historical eras, but it’s quite fascinating to visit nonetheless.
The architecture gallery is in Room 128, which is on the 4th floor to the right side of the main entrance to the museum.