New Amalgam Modelmaking Ltd exhibition at Bristol's Architecture Centre

Amalgam pre-exhibition shot (1)There is a major new exhibition on contemporary bridge design at Bristol’s Architecture Centre, where the scale models are built and supplied by local innovators, Amalgam Modelmaking Limited (Amalgam).

The exhibition, entitled Desire Lines: Romance and Rationalism in Bridge Design, runs 1 October – 16 November and features three build-your-own bridge kits designed and produced in Amalgam’s local workshop. The key inspiration for the exhibition is the forthcoming 150th anniversary of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which opened on 8 December 1864, and it also explores five contemporary case studies of bridge design and construction, in order to encourage a new way of looking at bridges.

Amalgam’s director James Smith worked in close collaboration with the Architecture Centre’s Rob Gregory to ensure the models fulfilled the role aesthetically yet enabled visitors to get hands on with the models to experiment with bridge building. The kits demonstrate how the components of arch, truss and cable structures can be assembled to produce six different bridge designs.

Rob highlights, “We are delighted that we can offer a highly interactive experience at this exhibition. Amalgam has designed and built an activity which is both fun and educational, particularly aimed towards family audiences, which we feel will have widespread appeal during the exhibition. The advantage of working with such skilled makers is that the display is professionally finished, so looks fantastic and also achieves a level of functionality not previously exhibited by our Centre.”

The launch coincides with Amalgam’s own anniversary celebrations – of 30 years in business – which begin 23 October with a series of tours around the workshop for architects and designers interested in the built environment. Co-founding director, Leo Saunders began the company in 1984 with three colleagues who shared his passion for 3D design, architectural model making, electronics and visual effects.

He says; “Since inception, our company has continued to grow in expertise, combining precision hand-making with the latest technology in engineering, making and materials, including 3D printing. From the outset we knew we needed to continuously develop our skills and so have always invested in new machinery and encouraged our team to test new methods. As a result we have an impressive client list and a very diverse set of capabilities, expanded this year to include recycling displays.”

Amalgam’s models – which are hand-crafted and engineered by experienced makers and 3D print technology – help developers and architects visualise their design concepts and are often cited by clients as adding the wow factor needed to secure investment. Amalgam built the original model for BAM Construction to include in their winning bid for UTC Swindon, which opened 1 September. []

Director Mike Harvey joined the co-founders in the early years, bringing high quality casting and moulding skills – and his interest in emerging technologies has driven the expansion of Amalgam’s product design and prototyping service. This has resulted in relationships with clients well known for leading their field such as Dyson and Herman Miller, and inventors, such as Tom Lawton, supporting his development of the Bubblescope.

Chris Conlon, the fourth director on Amalgam’s team, is proud of the company’s ability to build just about anything to scale. He says, “We are always looking for ways to improve and expand our offering to clients. Currently we are exploring how digital versions of models can be used more widely in architectural model making because we’ve found that an augmented reality application is a powerful tool to explore design options like materials, colour, and layout in a 3D format with clients.” [Story reported in Yachting Pages and Develop3D.] Contact [email protected]

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