Last edited 17 May 2022


A model, is in its simplest terms a representation of something. The US “Department of Defence Modelling and Simulation (M&S) Glossary” expands this simple definition by suggesting that “a model can be [a] physical, mathematical, or otherwise logical representation of a system” (1998).

In design and construction the most familiar is the architectural model which is a smaller piece that represents the physical form of a building or a three-dimensional computer model which represents the physical form of the building in a digital format. The term may also be used in a similar way to the word example, where a street is modelled on that of the Edwardians, or where a village is the model of energy efficiency.

As such the term model is also used to indicate a simple description of a system or process that can be used in calculations or predictions of what might happen. In economic modelling, both theoretical and empirical models are common as well as financial models or in the social sciences, standard social science models (SSSM). This kind of calculation driven or process model to test outcomes is also used in construction for example with risk, energy or carbon models and can also be visualised in the same way as a three-dimensional digital model such as with modern integrated environmental models or building performance simulation models.

Model might also be used to describe a particular type of product, machine or item, that is slightly different from ones of the same type, for example a newer model car. It is also the word to describe a person representing a customer for clothing with catwalk or super models. The most important is that a model represents something else via some means or another, usually with the purpose of testing decisions, outputs and outcomes within this scope there is an increasing range of types of building models is use.

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