Timothy Richards Creates Artful Architectural Models | Architectural Digest
When English artisan Timothy Richards sends people close-up photos of his 14-inch-tall plaster model of the Pantheon in Rome, they usually mistake it for the real thing. “They write back to say, ‘What are you doing in Italy?’” the craftsman says. It’s easy to see why they’re fooled: Every surface of the historic edifice has been meticulously reconstructed in Lilliputian form, the dome curving at exactly the right angle, even the minuscule bricks worn away in just the right spots.
Based in Bath, England, Richards has spent the past 25 years perfecting the art of creating detailed architectural models in plaster or bronze. Over the decades he has magically miniaturized, among other structures, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Buckingham Palace, and Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló for such high-profile clients as Sir Terence Conran and Harvard University. Richards’s pieces are so well regarded that when the Royal Institute of British Architects wanted a series of replicas built for a traveling exhibition on the influence of 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, shown at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum in 2010, he was the natural choice for the assignment.
Richards and his team of ten begin each project by constructing a master model from styrene sheets, resin, and wood. “We work from photographs and from plans, if they exist,” he says. They then make silicone-rubber molds from the master and use them to cast the plaster for the finished model, which is generally left unpainted to expose the “raw beauty of the material,” says Richards. (Gold-leaf, glass, and metal details are sometimes applied.) And though the craftsman is known for his historic subjects, he also tackles private commissions for clients looking to celebrate their own houses. A bespoke miniature costs anywhere from $7,000 to $150,000.
“Models help us grasp why some structures work and others don’t,” Richards explains. “You learn a lot from them, particularly about the parts you can’t normally see. They unpeel the art of building.”
Below are some of Timothy Richards' miniature marvels.
Images by Dylan Thomas Photography
Image Below: Timothy Richards Custom Model Example: Andrea Palladio’s Villa Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy
Height: 12 inches
Image Below: Timothy Richards Custom Model under Glass Dome: Replica of the ancient Roman Temple of Vesta, commissioned by Sir John Soane’s Museum
Height: 10.25 inches
Image Below: Timothy Richards Custom Model: Miniature of the Renaissance-era Tempietto tomb in Rome.
Height: 18 inches
Images Below: Detail of the Tempietto tomb model
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