Celebrating supermodels: the oft-unsung heroes of architecture

Piercy & Company’s ‘Supermodels’ exhibition has just launched in London's Kings Cross, celebrating the art of miniature building

Architectural model from Piercy&Co's Supermodels exhibition display up close
(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

There is something mesmerising about supermodels. They move gracefully, softly lit and elegantly poised, dressed up or down, according to fancy. But no – we're not talking about Cindy, Linda, Naomi, Christy and Tatjana here. This is about architectural models – and architecture studio Piercy & Company's spectacular ‘Supermodels’ exhibition, which opened in London's Kings Cross (25 November – 11 December 2022), offering an enchanting take on the art of miniature building and an often unseen, and unsung part of the architecture process. 

architecture model on stand

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

‘Supermodels’ by Piercy & Company

Celebrating the art of architectural model-making, and bringing its creations to life through movement, sound, scent and film, Piercy & Company aims to underline with this show the importance of engaging more senses than just vision (and in particular, still imagery), when exploring an architectural concept. Touch, hearing, smell, and various techniques addressed to seeing, such as mechanical automata, projection and specially designed light (composed by lighting studio 18 Degrees with lighting equipment courtesy of Reggiani), are all employed in an effort to draw the visitor into magical worlds of architectural thinking.

Piercy&Company Supermodels exhibition display

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

And draw them, it does. 'The “coming alive” of the models through film, sound and movement plays into the mysterious allure of objects with a miniature life of their own – the doll’s house, the cuckoo clock, the model railway. Supermodels seeks to reconnect digital and physical worlds to evoke a universal and childlike sense of wonder,' says Stuart Piercy, Piercy & Company’s founding director. 

Supermodels offers a range of projects, sizes and approaches for its viewers to enjoy. There is a modern chapel – the studio's award-winning Drayton Green Church –  an experimental modular steel house in Kew, and a Georgian villa, alongside larger scale work such a memorial concept. 

Bird models casting shadows on white brick all, part of Piercy&Company architects Supermodels exhibition

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Everything is immaculately staged, curated with extreme precision and a minimalist – if a little industrial-inspired, in this case – attitude and attention to detail that prevail in all Piercy & Company's works. The venue that hosts the show, one of the studio's ongoing works, the Jahn Court building, adds to the drama. 

'The choice of a raw space – currently at the often unseen stage between strip-out and refurbishment – forms the perfect counterpoint to the models in “Supermodels”. To heighten this creative tension, our exhibition concept explored the language of construction works. We used an exposed timber framework system for all the freestanding elements and exhibition furniture, in a celebration of the utilitarian economy of the building site,' says associate director Fiona Neil.

lit from the side, architecture model

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Piercy&Company Supermodels exhibition on display in London's King's Cross

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Architectural model on display in dimly lit exhibition space

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Architectural model on stand in dimly lit exhibition space

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Film on screen in dimly lit exhibition space

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

Wooden draws containing elements of architectural models

(Image credit: Andy Stagg)

piercyandco.com

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).