Monday, 2 November 2015

Review: Arckit Architectural Model Building Kits

Construction toys are renowned as one of the best starter toys for children, progressing from a tub full of wooden blocks or tree blocks through to MegaBloks, Duplo, and then LEGO.  They foster imaginative play of course, but their primary value developmentally is in encouraging design and fine motor skills, as well as learning about balance, shape, form and developing spatial awareness.  As the astronomical prices of the biggest LEGO kits would indicate, interest in construction toys does not wane with age, and creations can become ever more elaborate and detailed as our skill levels grow.  Stepping into the frame for older children and adults, is a new construction product: ARCKIT.

The product is aimed primarily at hobbyists and children aged 12+, but is also invaluable to architects who can both construct a physical scale model of their design, and also a virtual 3D model using ARCKIT's unique features.  Based on real architectural principles, the flexible, reusable pieces can be used to construct any building, and would be great for design and technology education, as well as budding architects.  How better to understand how a building works, than to create a model of it yourself?  You can see here how one creator made a scale model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house:

We were sent the Arckit 60 and the Arckit Go kits, and Steve happily spent an evening constructing some buildings.  One of the joys of the system is that there is no right or wrong, you can create whatever you want, using the freeform model making system to bring your designs to life.

Designed and tested by architects, the system uses interconnecting modular components that are based on modern panelled building techniques.  The flexibility this system offers means there are endless possibilities and the scale models can be easily assembled, modified, and deconstructed.  It is very easy to work with, and slots together quickly and easily.

The components are made on a standard 1.2m/4ft modular grid to a scale of 1:48, just fractionally smaller than the 1:50 scale normally used by architects.  This size allows for easy conversion between metric and imperial and is a popular scale with model manufacturers, making ARCKIT compatible with many other model products such as model vehicles, figurines and furniture.

Once finsihed, you can apply realistic detail to your model with a variety of finishes from your kit, or downloaded and printed from the ARCKITEXTURE library on the ARCKIT site.  Detail includes: wooden flooring, terracotta tiles, stone walls and shingle aluminium, and includes materials supplied by real building companies to add authenticity to your model.

When completed, you can also create 3D computer models of your design, using ARCKIT DIGITAL and the SketchUp versions of ARCKIT components in Trimble’s 3D Warehouse.  This means that you can easily calculate component quantities necessary to build a physical model of your design, and virtually share and showcase your 3D computer models.  This would be great for teaching architectural  and design principles - a far cry from my 1980s Technical Drawing lessons!  But this is just the start of ARCKIT's evolution, with new components, individual component packs and online features expected soon.

ARCKIT 60 is a great starter kit, perfect for creating smaller structures, student projects, interior deisgns, planning home extensions, and for learning how the system works.  It would also make a great Christmas gift for any budding architects, construction fans, or 3D whizzes.  It can be used to create a building with a maximum 60m2 (650ft2) floor area, and comprises 220+ pieces, with 22 unique components.  It retails at £89.

ARCKIT GO consists of the same modular components but is a great value starter kit, being just enough to get you going creating smaller architectural structures.  it contains 160+ pieces and 21 different unique components.  The kit retails at £49.99.

Both kits could be used to create designs that include balconies, recesses, roof terraces, double and triple height spaces, flat roofs and pitched roofs, amongst others, whatever your imagination dictates.

You can buy the ARCKIT kits online.

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