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The Queenslander (Classic). The first of Marcus’s models built at a scale of 1:100 which was the beginning of the Australian Series.

Marcus Bree in his workshop surrounded by his tools and equipment

Study models of the National Opera House, Sydney. Paper models made at various scales as part of the development process

The Opera House Model of the Architect Series with all its parts laid out before assembly.

The kit boxed and almost ready to be shipped, its contents visible through the plastic wrap.

The instruction manual of the Opera house kit with diagrams drawn of every part and directions for assembly.

Process pictures of the Farnsworth House prototype model. Third of the Architect Series.

The completed model of the Farnsworth House for high donors of the Kickstarter campaign.

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Lab 31 Jul 2017

Marcus Bree makes model kits of 20th Century Architects’ masterpieces – Little Buildings

Marcus Bree makes Little Buildings. And if you like them, you can buy them and there’s a very slim chance of your not liking them! They are beautiful miniatures done accurately to scale, with attention paid to each and every detail. Most of the 20th century “Master Architects” are famous and so is their work; their buildings are tourist attractions. But the souvenirs one gets to take away at these places lack any personality – and this is where Marcus comes in. CQ talks to Marcus about his work in more detail.

Marcus Bree has been building since he was a little boy in the English countryside. Except his buildings are now little and he is no more so! His models and model kits are the neatest little buildings you can own and by browsing through his website, you observe a number of models he has developed under two main categories: the Australian series and the Architects series. The former can be bought preassembled, and for the latter you have the choice of assembling them yourself.

The Queenslander (Classic). The first of Marcus’s models built at a scale of 1:100 which was the beginning of the Australian Series.

The journey before Architectural Models

Before Marcus embarked on this fascinating journey, he spent many years designing exhibition stands and exhibits in museums. When he was in college, studying engineering and three-dimensional design, he travelled to Europe and saw some wonderful architecture which opened his eyes to everything that designing buildings entails. He has been an admirer of architecture since and after years of travelling for work, he decided to settle down in Brisbane and start his own business.

Marcus Bree in his workshop surrounded by his tools and equipment

In 2006, when Marcus entered into a design competition focused on tourism, it pushed him to further the prototype for his idea of making kits as souvenirs. Winning this competition gave him the incentive to put it into production. It was a long and arduous process. As Marcus himself says about starting his very first kit, “It was probably 3 or 4 years from conception to having a product to retail. Researching the design, developing, prototyping, designing the literature and packaging, and putting it into production.”

Queensland, the Queenslander and thus the Australian Series

It had not been long since Marcus had moved to Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, that he started to get fascinated with the vernacular architecture of Brisbane. He started with his first model around 2008. Having bought a Queenslander house himself, he could not stop at just staring at it to understand the design so he made a model, followed by many more such models of the different buildings he found in his neighbourhood.

His Australian series, of which the Queenslander was the first, is based on these same buildings. There are many more in this series like the Miners Cottage, the Paddington Terrace, Double Gable Cottage, etc. These models were made to a scale of 1:100. Marcus’s Australian series helped him understand the process from conception to distribution, all the while helping him learn loads about the architecture of suburban Brisbane.

The Do-It-Yourself Architect Series

His first building in the Architect Series was the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York by Frank Lloyd Wright. This series is a step further from the Australian Series in a few ways:

  1. They are DIY model kits as opposed to pre-assembled models.

  2. These models are affiliated with the institutions of which they are tiny replicas. Now that is an uncommon feat!

The Architect Series is far more complex than Marcus’s earlier work. Not only did the drawings have to be meticulously researched from credible sources, but the institutions that own the copyright of the design have to be liaised with. This  involved negotiating with them on license agreements and terms before design development could even begin.

Study models of the National Opera House, Sydney. Paper models made at various scales as part of the development process

The Opera House Model of the Architect Series with all its parts laid out before assembly.

Marcus’s ambitious next venture in this series was the the National Opera House, Sydney. This extremely complex building was re-created in wood and acrylic at a scale of 1:750. A Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise funds for the production of this kit, which was a success and this prompted the next Kickstarter project, that of the Farnsworth House by Mies Van der Rohe.

The kit boxed and almost ready to be shipped, its contents visible through the plastic wrap.

The instruction manual of the Opera house kit with diagrams drawn of every part and directions for assembly.

Current Project- The Farnsworth House Kickstarter campaign

The Farnsworth House prototype is characteristically minimalist. The building designed in the International Style is an ideal template for a neat little model that you can assemble and proudly display it in your home. Since the premise of this entire endeavour was the lack of well-made souvenirs for tourists, the Farnsworth House model is endorsed by the Farnsworth House as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation. If you are an enthusiast of 20th century architecture but can’t visit these wonders, you can just order a “Farnsworth House” Kit and have your very own replica of this one-room house in the wilderness of Illinois.

Process pictures of the Farnsworth House prototype model. Third of the Architect Series.

The pieces are laser-cut beforehand and labelled meticulously so that one can find the exact piece one is looking for at any stage. If in any difficulty, you can also fire off a quick email to Marcus to come to your aid. You can also ask separately for an acrylic case to display the model on completion.

The completed model of the Farnsworth House for high donors of the Kickstarter campaign.

“My aim is to align myself with iconic buildings and institutions. It’s a win-win situation. They get a quality product to sell in their store and raise revenue for their building and I get to make what I enjoy.”

What the future holds for Marcus’s Little Buildings

Currently, the materials used by Marcus, include wood, acrylic and some printed components but when asked about future development, Marcus seems to want to explore more finishes and textures. He wants to use materials that are true to their texture so that he doesn’t use a cover up.{{image-9}}

Models are an important and wonderful way of understanding the architectural design of buildings. Marcus’ models add value to one’s souvenir collection since one learns about the building they are re-creating firsthand and the institutions affiliated with the buildings get a marketable product. As Marcus says, “My aim is to align myself with iconic buildings and institutions. It’s a win-win situation. They get a quality product to sell in their store and raise revenue for their building and I get to make what I enjoy.”{{image-10}}

To visit Marcus’s Kickstarter Campaign visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/45445701/mies-van-de-rohes-farnsworth-house-architectural-m?ref=category_recommended

Browse through Marcus Bree’s little Buildings on https://www.littlebuildingco.com/shop