Making of a (Model) Masterpiece: The Tate Modern, and More

Dreaming up the original plans for a Guggenheim Museum, a Sydney Opera House, or any other architectural masterpiece isn’t something just anyone can do. And turning those designs into a finished building is no easy feat. But making a model of one that’s already built ought to be a piece of cake, right?

Actually, designing a highly accurate, buildable scale model of an architectural masterpiece presents some complex problems. Here’s a little insight from the mind of Marcus Bree, artist and founder of the Little Building Company.

Crafting a Model of a Masterpiece

Creating a model isn’t just a matter of copying a set of blueprints and doing the math to shrink the building down to size.

Bree works from a wide variety of reference materials, including original drawings and the architects’ survey sketches, as well as numerous articles about the building and construction process. Bree and his team count bricks, check scales, cross reference dimensions, and break the building down into several tangible, discrete sections in order to create the most accurate representation of the original.

“Determining which details we can replicate at scale is always interesting,” Bree said.

The Tate Modern Model: Delightfully Detailed 

At the beginning, Bree scaled the Tate model at 1:500, but later realized that for production and aesthetic reasons, it was better scaled down to 1:750...and then to 1:1200. When you appreciate these kinds of details, you can see why model development can take well over a year (or two).

The Tate Modern model is now available in the USA. Order yours now!

Below, you can see some images that were taken during various stages of development of the Tate Modern model.

As involved as the process was, Bree has said the Tate was not the most complicated model he’s created. (Also surprising: in spite of its size, most modelers say they find the Tate relatively “easy” to build.)

Taking Pride in Every Step

“We always try a few approaches with the aim of making the model as easy and straightforward for our customers as possible,” Bree said. “Resolving the power station was relatively simple.”

“We started with the obvious vertical walls slotted into the base and worked our way to a solid core … the solid core gives the finished model a nice weight,” he said.

Material selection is critical to the beauty and integrity of the model, and is an important consideration from the very beginning of the design process.

Little Building Company strives to make the best architectural model kits available, kits that ensure that experienced modelers as well as those new to the building process will enjoy the building adventure and that the resulting model will be a source of pride for many years.

Wherever possible, Little Building Co. model materials are sustainably sourced and the model production aims to produce the models with a minimal amount of waste.

To read more about The Little Building Co., Founder Marcus Bree, and his musings on the model development process, visit The Back of an Envelope blog, or see Bree’s brief bio here.

Want to share your modeling experience with us? Get in touch! We love to hear from our customers. Ready to build your own Tate Modern? Order now, and experience the masterpiece in your own home.

Inside the Artist's Studio

A Look at the Tate Modern Model Development Process


Tate Modern Museum model development
Tate Modern scale model development