In 2018 the fragment of a 19th century model of the Royal Albert Hall was found in the back of a cupboard. Observation of the surviving parts and a study of archival sources enabled a basic undertesting of its history and function: it played an important part in the design process, as a tool for building consensus between the designer and the Committee of Advice, and it was a ‘place’ of experimentation. Many questions remained open, though.
The process of building a physical ‘copy’ of the model, including an informed guess of what the missing parts might have looked like, was a precious opportunity to intimately understand the historical artefact and gain an insight into our 19th century forbearers’ design process and practice. The two models were on display as part of the Shaping Space – Architectural Models Revealed exhibition, held at the Building Centre (London) in 2021-22.
In this short film Dr. Simona Valeriani (V&A Research Institute) who was the Academic Project Lead, and Scott Miller (B.15 Workshop, University of Manchester) who was in charge of the production of the replica, join Liz Harper (Royal Albert Hall’s archivist), on a journey to discover the 19th century model and the challenges and opportunities offered by its 21st century recreation.