Tradition + Technology

Architectural Diorama of Los Angeles. Architectural Diorama of an apartment building.

Architectural dioramas can be built to display individual homes, buildings or condominiums.  Larger architectural dioramas can be used as exhibits for extremely large models of an entire city or region, or a major airport or university with exquisite landscaping details.  These architectural dioramas can be designed for existing structures and layouts, or can be something from a historical perspective, or even something designed for the future.

An architectural diorama tells the entire story.  Whether you are communicating and collaborating with the builder or using the diorama as a display to showcase what is planning to be built or using it as a museum piece such as a campus model or historical model, these can effectively portray the entire story.

Architectural Dioramas are built from skilled designers, artisans, model-makers, and fabricators using their talents to produce these visually stunning models.  In conjunction with the human element, there are multiple technologies and manufacturing techniques used.  These can range from traditional handmade model-making to new technologies in 3D printing and can include special lighting, sound, electronics, digital controls, and even augmented reality.

Now, with 3D printing and other modern technologies, dioramas are created in less time, are more affordable, more accurate, and have a higher level of detail than ever before.

Features and Benefits

Architectural Diorama of a hotel
  • A physical diorama provides a visual perspective that you can't achieve with blueprints, drawings, or digital 3D models.
  • An architectural diorama helps the architect, contractor and client to envision the home or building or development project on the build site to take full advantage of the views, terrain, and other natural elements.
  • 3D dioramas help architects and contractors communicate effectively with clients, ensuring desired results and avoiding expensive changes once the project is under construction.
  • No project is too large or too small, from cityscapes and commercial buildings, to homes and swimming pools–if you can design it, we can create a physical diorama of it.
  • Once the construction project is complete, architectural dioramas make stunning public displays and are an excellent way to showcase your portfolio of projects.
  • Models can display the outside of the structure, or the layout and design of the interior of a structure.  The model can have a removable roof or a cross section of the building or home showing the flow and points of view within the building.

Architectural Dioramas captivate audiences.  Individuals are mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of the scene.  These beautiful architectural models are typically the centerpiece wherever they are located.  They are natural magnets attracting visitors to observe and experience the intricate details of the architectural model.  These phenomenal details showcase the original designers' dreams in bringing the scene to life.

Types of Architectural Dioramas

Here are some specific types of architectural diorama models that WhiteClouds fabricates.

Architectural Sales Diorama Models

An architectural sales model allows the seller to quickly exhibit different layouts in condominiums, homes, office spaces, and retail spaces.  Being able to effectively communicate to the potential buyer can be extremely time-saving compared to visiting many locations.  Being able to show a buyer what the finished product will look like, even down to the smallest details, can save thousands in change orders and in saving time.

The video below demonstrates the use of one of these models from an exterior and interior perspective without ever having to visit the real home. Advanced 3D Printing was used to build facades to ensure maximum precision and detail.  There are hundreds of individually designed elements showcasing accurate colors.  Turn up the sound, hit play, and enjoy the show.

Architectural Diorama of a resort

Building Diorama Models

The details of architectural dioramas are nothing short of phenomenal.  The scaled-down view of buildings combined with site landscaping, whether from a city block or an entire city are mind-captivating.  These dioramas can be used to showcase future vision, visualize development and project impacts, view shapes of buildings and topography, plan traffic flow, and many other uses.  All types of functional architectural dioramas can be built such as an entire university campus or skyscrapers in a region of a city.  Entire city layouts can be built or just a single structure such as a hospital or railway station.

We have the technology and skills to deliver professional dioramas within your timeframe and budget.  A building diorama can be as small as 12"x12" or as large as 4'x4' or larger and can be built to emphasize both daylight and night-time views.

Architectural Diorama of a condo

Landscaping Diorama Models

Landscaping models allow you to create any type of tree, shrubbery, bushes or structure necessary to make your diorama as accurate and realistic as possible.  Imagine creating miniature arbors, arcades, belvederes, brick paths, cabinets, firepits, decking, espaliers, gazebos, ground covers, island beds, patios, rivers, rotundas, sidewalks, streams, terraces, topiaries, walkways, and water cascades.  Colors are unlimited.

A landscaping diorama can be any type of seasonal or geographic design, from deserts to mountains to farmland or even swamp or artic areas.

Architectural Diorama of an airport

Airport Diorama Models

Airports draw a lot of attention from local residents to government bodies.  Whether a small airplane or a large passenger plane, a lot of noise is created when takeoffs occur.  Traffic patterns in and out of an airport can also cause many problems.  These same noise and traffic issues exist with all types of airports, from large primary airports to smaller reliever airports or general aviation airports.  An airport diorama can be used to help plan and communicate the future ramifications of new airports.  They also make great displays for what the new airport will look like and can even be used as a mapping function once the final airport construction is completed.  Airport dioramas can be placed as a centerpiece inside the airport to help passengers find the particular terminal they are looking for.  Matching any type of plane, jet, baggage equipment, plane equipment, or terminal transfer equipment can be fabricated to your exact needs with modern 3D printing technology.  Combining equipment and planes into an airport diorama also brings out the "kids" in all of us — marveling at the cool-looking display.

Architectural Diorama of an university

University Diorama Models

Campus University dioramas are often used in student gathering areas to help educate the new student about the layout of the campus and routes to be used between classes.  They are also great tools for fundraising activities bringing excitement to new building construction to potential donors.  They can also be used for planning and identifying potential impacts in early planning of new construction on the campus and in educating/communicating to surrounding businesses and residents.  University dioramas can be built as a single building with surrounding landscape or it can be a full-campus layout with hundreds of buildings, roadways, walking paths, and parking lots.  Emphasis can be placed on whatever functions are most important — history of certain buildings, trees, or donations.

From a technology perspective, there are a lot of options to building a next-generation university diorama.  Some of these features might include lighting alterations showcasing day views vs night-time views, iPad controlled lighting showcasing a particular building that someone just selected, or even interfacing physical dioramas to mobile phones using augmented reality — a true digital/physical combination of technology. When needing extreme detail for a particular structural elements or statues, 3D Printing technology can be used to fabricate extreme details as small as 16 microns (about 1/6 the size of a human hair).  A large 3D full campus university diorama is currently being fabricated for Brigham Young University (BYU) at BYU Architectural Diorama.

Architectural Diorama of a topography

Topographical Diorama Models

Topographical dioramas can be very affordable.  With 3D printing able to incorporate full color options, any type of geographical element is possible: artic setting, atoll, basin, bay, butte, cliff, cave, city, coast, crater, dam, desert, dike, dome, farmland, field, forest, glacier, gulch, hill, highway, island, jungle, lake, mountain, mine, plateau, pond, quarry, reservoir, road, river, stream, and volcano.  Any combination of these can be built into a topographical model.  Signage and verbiage can be used to highlight a particular area on the topographical diorama.  These topographical dioramas can be more useful that a high-quality map because of the dimension of height.  Special finishes can be applied to give tremendous strength to these models.  There are no limits to Topographical models in regards to geography, geology, and cartography.

Client Reviews

“Since partnering with WhiteClouds, we have been able to enhance the entire architectural experience for our clients! The ability to recreate our client‘s custom log and timber frame home design in the form of a 3D print model, provides a greater clarity as to how the project will look and feel on the specific topography of their building site.”

Jeffery W.  Caudill
President
Winterwoods Homes, Ltd.

“The quality and finish exceed our expectations! Well done! Your team clearly put a lot of effort into this project, and we really appreciate the attention to detail and workmanship.  Over the past 10 years we have purchased about 15 scale models from another company, and the quality of your models far exceeds that of any other 3D printed model built for us.  Really impressive!”

Don Bergin
President
Blast Deflector

“The model then became the center point of a large media push—the cameras loved the detail and this awareness really helped give life to our goal of expansion.  We have proudly displayed this model to our patrons over the last year.  This three dimensional model has answered so many questions from our current patrons about what they can look forward to and truly bolstered our ticket sales and development efforts.”

Quinn Dietlein
Director of Development
Hale Centre Theatre

Technology and Materials

Today's technologies are making more impressive next generation dioramas.  Combining tried-and-tested traditional model-making with new 3D printing, 3D CNCing, 3D cutting, 3D digital, and new electronics capabilities are allowing model makers to build some really awesome dioramas.
  • Professional Creations — We have a team of designers, artists, model-makers, painters, air-brushers, electricians, sculptors, carpenters, taxidermists, and welders to fabricate that imaginative, immersive, and experiential 3D diorama model.
  • No project is too large or too small, from a 2' small diorama topography to a large 50' museum diorama. If you can design it, we can create a physical diorama of it.  If you can't design it, we have a team of design professionals who can.  We can work with preparing 3D dioramas from scans, drawings, photos, and even napkins.
  • Technologies include Foam Fabrication, Hot Wiring, CNC Cutting, Laser Cutting, Welding, and 6 different 3D Printing technologies for rapid prototyping or production models.
  • Architectural Dioramas, Architectural Models, Topographical Models, Entertainment Dioramas, Game Dioramas, and Museum Dioramas can all be used to help expand what you are trying to build into a diorama.
  • Did we mention, we have 60,000 square feet of production facilities in Utah, including the largest capacity of full-color 3D printing in the world.

Pricing

The price of a diorama model varies greatly because of size and complexity and can range from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars with some even in the millions.  Each diorama model is bid individually and the best way to determine price is to contact us and let us bid your project.

Get a Quick Estimate

Workflow

Whiteclouds architectural diorama creation workflow

Selected Project Gallery

Common Questions

What file type is required to 3D print parts of the architectural diorama?

We work with all architectural CAD programs including AutoCAD, Revit, Chief Architect, ArchiCAD and Sketchup, just to name a few.  If you design in 3D, we will start with your 3D files.  If you have 2D blueprints and elevations, or artist's sketches, we can build an architectural diorama from these files as well.

Do the 3D printers print in color?

Yes.  Most of our architectural diorama models have some part of the diorama printed in full-color, sandstone-like material and the printers print in full color.  Anything printed in UV-cured resin materials are a single color but can be painted.

What is the material used?

Most of our diorama models are 3D printed in sandstone-like material; however, we also print in UV-cured resins.  We also use traditional hand modeling techniques for large topographies and landscapes as well as for large architectural models.

What is the largest architectural diorama you can 3D print?

The build envelope on our larger printers is 9" x 15" x 20".  This is the largest diorama model we can print in a single piece.  We can 3D print larger models in multiple pieces which is a normal part of the process.

What is the turnaround time for a architectural diorama model?

Depending on size and complexity, this could be from 4-6 weeks for a small diorama to many months for larger dioramas.  We understand that sometimes deadlines are tight and we can usually accommodate rush orders.

Can you 3D print the interior details of a building?

Yes.  We can create an architectural diorama with a removable roof and floors so you can see the layout of the building.

Can you 3D print terrain, swimming pools, arbors, hardscaping features, etc.?

Yes.  We 3D print many of the items in our diorama models.

If I want a second diorama is it cheaper?

Our pricing is based on the amount of material used, size of the project, and time it takes to build the diorama.  A second duplicate is less money because the design portion is complete.

Do you have a question we didn‘t answer? Don't hesitate to contact us at 1-385-206-8700 or sales@whiteclouds.com.

Worldwide Delivery

WhiteClouds has delivered models around the world.

History of Architectural Dioramas

Architectural Diorama Massing Model Architectural Diorama with a transparent foof to show inner detail

The first use of the word "Diorama" occurred in 1822 by Daugerre, who created the Daugerrotype process of photography.  The first landscaped dioramas made their appearance in Japan in the sixth century with a process known as "Bonkei" — the making of miniature landscapes.  Another similar process was created around this same time-frame called "Bonsai" — the art of growing miniature trees in pots and adding related landscaping features to the pot.  You can now see these processes being used by amateurs and hobbyists in the construction of miniature train set landscapes.

Architectural dioramas date back to the early 4600 BC where archeologists have found examples of clay models of buildings.  These early models were most likely used as gifts or grave goods (placed in the tombs of deceased) as opposed to demonstrating building techniques.  The earliest known use of architectural dioramas as a mechanism to demonstrate a proposed building comes from the early Roman empire, probably around the first century AD.

As the complexity (and thus the expense) of architectural projects increased, the ability to present a client or financier with a model to assist in visualizing the finished product became more and more important.  During the Renaissance, architectural models were extensively used by such preeminent architects as Michelangelo, Filippo Brunelleschi, Antonio da San Gallo, and Christopher Wren.  Leonardo Da Vinci was known to use models to explore his ground-breaking ideas, art, and discoveries in many areas, including architecture.