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This method aims to inspire creativity and intuitive insight through the construction of a small preliminary model, or ‘maquette’.


In this exercise, participants use a wide variety of materials to create a ‘maquette’ to represent specific, physical ideas for the development of a particular place (such as a building, park, farm, or neighbourhood). A ‘maquette’ is a three-dimensional sketch, a spatial representation of an idea or concept. It is generally used by artists and architects to test an idea in preliminary phases of a project. It can be a highly effective method, as it disrupts normal patterns of thought by inviting participants to “think with their hands”. Maquettes can be done individually, in pairs, or as a group. In order to stimulate unconventional perspectives, participants could be asked to create the maquette from the perspective of another species or to create an idea that future generations could improve upon.


  1. Invite participants to create a 3D-object, using the materials available;
  2. Ask an opening question that guides the process. For example, in Case 2, p. 67, people were asked to think of the farmstead as a transformative space, and make an object to represent their perspective of the place using the wisdom, insight, and inspirations from the previous exercises;
  3. (optional) You can set an imaginary audience or task (sample script): You are on a team of designers and you have to share with your team your deepest hopes and highest possibilities for the place. You may want to highlight that the maquette does not have to be a finite product, but rather a “work in progress” to be developed further;
  4. Ask participants to tell the story of their maquette (in pairs or as a group);
  5. (optional) In pairs, participants identify the best qualities of each of their maquettes and, if possible, they combine them into a new version;
  6. (optional) To make a collective maquette, all maquettes are placed at the centre of the table. Ask participants to reflect together on which parts of each maquette they wish to include in the shared design. At the end of the process a new, collective maquette is made.

Place on U
15 - 45 minutes
Materials Needed

Clay/play dough, wooden sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, string, coloured cardboard; abundance of pre-cut or torn out images from magazines stored neatly in a folder; glue sticks, small scissors, and felt-tip markers stored in a small box or bag; A4, A3, or larger paper.

Maker Processes & Crafts
Design Thinking
Systems Thinking
Tip and Experiences
  • Emphasize intuitive nature of process (don’t overthink!);
  • Have a variety of materials available that are easy to work
    with and can be used for a variety of purposes (i.e. clay, pipe cleaners, sticks).

Relevant References & Resources

Maquette overview

Practical Aesthetic Making: Gulliksen (2017). Making Matters?

Unpacking the Role of Practical Aesthetic Making Activities in the General Education Through the Theoretical Lens of Embodied Learning.

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