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The Big Build Appeal

Architectural Model

The Big Build Appeal

We are delighted to support local charity, Charlie House with a scale model of the specialist children’s care centre they are raising funds to build in Aberdeen.  

Since we first started supporting Charlie House in 2017, plans have evolved and this is our second version of the model.   Our capabilities have evolved too.  For this version, we tried out some of our new labelling kit to add some colour and extra detail to the interiors.  

We had the pleasure of attending the Big Build Launch event at The Marcliffe (14th November 2018) and found ourselves seconded onto team Charlie for the afternoon to explain the model (or rather explain the build, using the model) to the crowds at the launch.   It was very encouraging to see so many people already engaged to make this project a success.

Picture by Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

About Charlie House

Charlie House are raising £8m to build a state-of-the-art support facility for children with complex and life limiting conditions in the North East of Scotland.  It is shocking to think that there are currently no specialist respite facilities within a 100 miles of Aberdeen and families are having to either make long journeys or to struggle through without the help a centre like this can provide.  The new building will provide a place for the children and their families to get some respite care.    

How you can help

The team have already raised an impressive £1m of their £8m target.  To donate, get involved with fundraising or find other ways to support Charlie House, check out their web site at:  

About our models

Scale models are an excellent way to engage with stakeholders.   At events (like the Big Build Appeal launch) a model works really well as a conversation starter to engage with people browsing past.  Models also work well in 1:1 discussions, they focus discussion on the design and a good model will help you draw attention to the key features you want to highlight.  

For the model for Charlie House,  it was very important that they were able to show the layout and function of the rooms within the building.   For this reason, we made sure the roof and first floor could be removed to show the interior.  We also created small labels with text and details taken from the architectural plans to show what each room was for. 

Using the model, you can see how the family rooms are arranged separate but nearby to the medically equipped children’s rooms, how the social spaces are arranged and where the admin and support areas fit in.  

When showing a bed or a desk,  we raised the label up to the correct scale height, which really helped bring the interior to life and helps people relate to the space.  Another important architectural detail we needed to include, was the use of tinted glass to create a warm glow in some of the communal areas.

For more information and example projects check our architecture page.

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Digital manufacturing – Architectural Mould

Architectural Reconstruction from Photographs

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working on bespoke designs is the variety of projects across a wide range of industries.   In February, a particularly interesting enquiry hit our inbox.  D&D Gowans, Property Developers, asked if we could re-create an architectural detail (an anthemion mould) from photographs.

The Challenge

The development is in Union Street, once Aberdeen’s glittering mile but today needs a clean and sorely needs the sort of investment this development is providing,  however, as a conservation area, any changes to the frontages along Union Street come under the close supervision of the Heritage Trust.   

We got a sneak preview of the work in-progress on the development. The quality  and finishing of the interior is exceptionally high-end.  The ground floor will be a hairdressing salon and the apartments above are already full of beautiful ornate plaster, high-tech ventilation, heating and appliances and finely crafted to the smallest detail.  Our solution would have to meet some very exacting standards. 

Could we create a  design from an old photo reference that would win the approval of the Heritage Trust and could we also get it made to a high standard in a suitable material?

Reference Material

Yorkshire Insurance Company, Aberdeen

The reference images show the frontage in the early 1900’s.   The front of the building has been altered over the years into quite an ugly shop-front.  The current development has already restored the original window and door proportions and the development is already a huge improvement.  

The missing piece was the wooden moulding above the door – an Anthemion Mould comprising of two roundels and a leaf design.

The granite blocks shown in the photo are a known size, so figuring out the size of the mould was straightforward.

The Heritage Trust provided a rough sketch of what was required.

Design Iterations

While we often use CAD software to process engineering files, this project called for more organic modelling techniques.  Our tool-of-choice for this sort of work is Blender, an open-source 3d creation suite. 

A significant advantage of a digital design process is the ease and speed that changes can be made.  This facilitates an iterative process where options can be developed and feedback incorporated. 

Draft design options

An iterative approach was especially useful for this project where we needed to incorporate feedback, reach agreement and obtain sign-off not only from our client, but also the Heritage Trust.

In the space of a week, we were able to iterate through 5-6 versions, incorporating feedback at each step.

Final Version


To manufacture the mould, we needed to find someone with a CNC machine that could mill the shape from a solid block of suitable material.   

Our friends at Marketec turned out to have the perfect solution,  a CNC machine that could handle the job, the capability to handle digital model files, and they also have stock of Scottish hardwoods.

Finished anthemion mould in the Marketec workshop

Marketec design and manufacture high quality demonstration and training products, we particularly like their design philosophy where they simplify and abstract their models to focus on key aspects for training or demonstration purposes.  Visit their website at:

The Result

Celtic3d provided the finalised design, Marketec then manufactured it by milling the shape out of a piece of Scottish hardwood.  The result is very tactile, and the wood is beautiful, almost a shame to paint it.

We are already thinking about repeating the process for some interior pieces that could be oiled to show off the wood to its full effect.  


The joiners added the intersecting runners and installed the finished Anthemion Mould above the doorway and painted it to match in with the rest of the woodwork.

Fitted mould after digital fabrication

If you are passing number 148 (between the Monkey House / Chaophraya and Eclectic Fizz / Ici’s) you can see the doorway with its original architectural detail restored. 

We are delighted to see at least one small part of Union Street is being returned to its proper state.

Digital manufacturing historical details
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3d Printed Model for Charlie House

Zoomed in view of architectural model internal detail

We are delighted to work with Charlie House to provide them with an architectural model of their “Big Build Project”. Charlie House is a Scottish charity providing much-needed services for children with complex disabilities, medical needs and/or life-limiting conditions in the North East of Scotland.
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